US women’s medal drought continues at figure skating worlds

Gracie Gold recovered in the free skate, but it wasn't enough to reach the podium.

Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images

 

For the ninth straight year, there wasn’t an American woman on the podium at the figure skating world championships.

Though they fell just short of taking home a medal, Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner were pleased with the way they recovered after their spotty performances in the short program to end the season on a positive note.

Gold was second in the free skate Saturday to improve from eighth place to fourth overall – less than three points behind bronze medalist Elena Radionova of Russia – while Wagner jumped from 11th to fifth place overall.

”It’s what I kind of hoped to do is skate strong and be tough,” she said. ”Ten out of 10 times you’ll land a jump and to miss it when it matters is frustrating.”

The 19-year-old Gold has missed her share of jumps this season. After losing to Wagner to relinquish her U.S. national title in January, she had one of her worst performances of the season at the Four Continents Championships in South Korea, failing to medal at an event she was predicted to easily win.

Her season had started off promisingly enough with her first Grand Prix win at the NHK Trophy in Japan. But a small stress fracture in her foot forced her to pull out of the Grand Prix Finals in December and she has struggled to find her rhythm ever since.

”This year was a little more rough and tumble for me,” she said. ”I’m used to being at least consistently going up, maybe a little down. Wiping the ice at the Four Continents event and breaking a foot aren’t really in my usual plans. Those are some pretty severe ups and downs.”

Wagner described her season similarly – too many ups and downs. The veteran skater earned a career-rejuvenating win at the U.S. Nationals, but she was unhappy with other performances at the Grand Prix Finals and in the short program at worlds.

”Today was a huge accomplishment for me. It might sound silly because I’m 23 years old, but I’m still learning in this sport. I was a late bloomer. To go out there under such immense pressure, to redeem myself in a way, that’s something I’m very proud of,” she said.

The last American women to medal at the world championships were Kimmie Meissner and Sasha Cohen, who captured the gold and bronze medals, respectively, at Calgary in 2006.

The Americans might have a better chance of breaking the streak on home ice next year when the world championships move to Boston. And the skater who could emerge as the likeliest medal contender is 16-year-old Polina Edmunds, who picked up the biggest win of her career last month by capturing the Four Continents trophy.

She finished eighth in Shanghai after receiving what she felt was a low score in the free skate.

”I feel more experienced and more confident in myself than last year,” she said. ”I really want to move up in the standings and to the podium.”