The results initially were disappointing for Team USA in the ladies' figure skating competition, but there was reason for hope.
Gracie Gold was sensational. Polina Edmunds was magnificent. And though Ashley Wagner might have never been happy with her scores, the 22-year-old has another run in her in 2018.
No, there wasn't a Tara Lipinski or Sarah Hughes story of triumph in Sochi, but there is still quite a bit of optimism back home after all three women finished in the top 10. While the 2014 Winter Olympics didn't end with a female on the podium, it's the beginning of a bright future for the U.S.
The competition has already come to a close, but here is a look at each of the Americans, and what could be in store for them in the future.
Not only is Gold America's darling on the ice, but she is also a force to be reckoned with.
After a fourth-place finish on the Olympics stage, Gold's career is just getting started. The beautiful blonde burst onto the scene during the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and hasn't slowed down since.
Following her first performance, Gold took to Twitter to talk about her emotions:
I can't believe I just competed at the Olympics!!!!! It was a dream come true ❤️🇺🇸⭐️ #Sochi2014— Gracie Gold (@GraceEGold) February 19, 2014
That's coming from an 18 year old who just finished her first ever individual routine on the Olympic stage. Now that Gold has that huge moment out of the way—three of them, in fact—the road ahead is much less bumpy.
In a competition where one of the young favorites, Julia Lipnitskaia fell from grace—literally and figuratively—Gold stayed strong, despite not making the podium.
With her routines in her rear-view mirror, Wagner spoke about how her attitude toward adversity has changed throughout her first Olympics, according to the Associated Press h/t CBSNews.com, "To be able to come up here and feel stiff and white as a ghost but stare fear in the face is what I'm all about now."
Thanks to a new-found confidence and knowledge that she is currently at the top of the ladder for American figure skaters, Gold will be one to watch in South Korea in 2018.
Wagner came into the Olympics with controversy and leaves with controversy—but for completely different reasons.
After falling in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and getting a place with the team despite a fourth-place finish, Wagner came out and gave several great performances that she felt were under scored.
Wagner spoke about the adversity that she faced and her future, per Gary Mihoces of USA Today:
I have come from a bawling, scared, 22-year-old girl to a tough, proud, happy woman coming home to the U.S. with a bronze medal (in the team event) and three clean performances.
As soon as I landed in Sochi, I knew I was signed on for the next four years. I think working with (coach Rafael Arutyunyan), he's been able to do so much with me in six months. [...] I can't even begin to imagine what a year with him would be like technically and what four years could be like. [...] It's a changing of the guards now. And I'm ready to be there.
Along with her great performances that landed her inside the top 10 after the competition, Wagner clearly came away learning a lot about what she needs to do to improve.
With a guarantee that she'll be fighting to make a comeback in 2018, U.S. fans will be watching to see how she continues to respond after scratching and clawing just to get into the 2014 Olympics.
Not much was expected of the 15-year-old skater, but she certainly shined all on her own with a ninth-place finish.
While both Wagner and Gold will still be the favorites moving forward to carry U.S. figure skating, Edmunds proved that she's already growing before our eyes into a blossoming star.
Despite a fall in her free skate, Edmunds said she wasn't fazed, according to Chuck Carroll of the Mercury News:
Edmunds: “Once I fell, I was really disappointed. “But my thought was, ‘I have to skate like a champion.’ And I did." http://t.co/6J8bYHrT1g— Chuck Carroll (@ChuckCarroll1) February 21, 2014
Kelly Whiteside of USA Today also provides a look into the life of Edmunds, who is still just a high schooler who hasn't earned her license at just 15:
Polina Edmunds finished math homework, got 7th in short. Next up:" I'm trying to read some of The Great Gatsby for English" Then free skate— Kelly Whiteside (@KellyWhiteside) February 19, 2014
The next time Edmunds will step onto this stage could be as a college student but with much more confidence and charisma.
Though she clearly wasn't the star of the show or even the best 15-year-old in the competition, Edmunds proved why she earned a place on the team. In four years, she will get another chance to shine and could be coming home with her first medal.
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