It was a thrilling night at the 2010 U.S. Championships in Spokane, Wash. After two straight silver-medal performances, Rachael Flatt won her first U.S. title tonight. Earlier in the day, Meryl Davis and Charlie White won their second U.S. title.
Flatt put down a technically difficult free skate to score 130.76 for the program and 200.11 points for the competition. In the free skate, she landed seven triples, most in combination. The 17-year-old was one of just two women to land a triple-triple.
"My free skate felt great once I landed the triple flip-triple toe [combination]. I was very excited. It was a great program. I finally competed the way I had been training, and I was very pleased with that," Flatt said.
Overnight leader Mirai Nagasu claimed the silver with an overall mark of 188.78. She was third in the free skate with 118.72 points (and was marked down on three cheated, or under-rotated, jumps). "I know the last triple toe felt shaky but the rest felt secure,” she said. "I had a slight mistake on my layback and I was mad about that because that is my best element."
Overall, though, Nagasu gave an energetic and passionate performance. She also executed many difficult elements. The 16-year-old (who came out of nowhere to win the 2008 U.S. title) expressed pride in her ability to skate well under pressure. "I skated last and I had a lot of time to think," she said. "Thinking isn't always good for me because it makes me get nervous. I'm glad I overcame that. I am also glad I didn’t skate my best. For the Olympics I have a lot to work on.”
Nagasu added that while she and Flatt didn’t have veterans like Michelle Kwan or Kristi Yamaguchi to lead them on, they had something else to fall back on. “We are young,” Nagasu said. “We have big dreams and that is what will motivate us.”
The bronze medal went to a disappointed Ashley Wagner, who was second in the free skate (she scored 122.15 for her long program and 184.70 overall). With fingers crossed, Wagner watched the scores flash across the leader board (with Nagasu skating last, it came right down to the wire). As the third-place finisher she knew her Olympic dreams were likely dashed.
"I was happy with my performances," Wagner said. "It has been a great season for me."
In fourth place was Sasha Cohen, some 25 points behind Flatt. The 2006 Olympic silver medalist (second after the short program) finished the competition with 174.28 points.
The U.S. has two spots for the ladies discipline at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Later that night Flatt and Nagasu were officially named to the team.
While Flatt cracked the 200-point barrier and has defeated reigning World champion Yu-Na Kim in one segment of a competition this season, the free skate at Skate America, the 17-year-old American said she knows she has room to improve. "[Those things] give me a lot of confidence and I will use it as motivation. ... [but] I function well when I fly under the radar," Flatt said. "I am very excited heading to Vancouver. This whole year has been exciting and it will be great to cap it off with a great performance."
Davis and White scored 222.29 for the competition to win the title. Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto had to settle for silver (218.51) while Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates took the bronze (190.69).
Davis and White led from wire to wire; it was the first time they defeated Belbin and Agosto.
White has been confident all season. "It is really a testament to our training to come out and beat an amazing team, especially going into the Olympics. It feels good," he said. "But our hard work isn’t done. ... What we want to do at the Olympics is win.”
Davis and White gave a passionate and technically difficult performance to “Phantom of the Opera.” Their speed was amazing and they were in perfect sync throughout the routine. The program was packed with difficult elements, including several superior lifts.
The crowd was behind the young duo who received a standing ovation. The audience also was enthusiatsic during Belbin and Agosto's passionate “Ave Maria” program. “We haven’t had one of those in a long time and it felt really good," Belbin said about the standing ovation she and Agosto received.
The U.S. has three ice dance spots for Vancouver and U.S. Figure Skating officials named the three ice dance medalsist to the Olympic team. Belbin and Agosto, who are five-time U.S. champions, are also the reigning Olympic silver medalists.