espnW: Gracie Gold
On this day in 1992, Kristi Yamaguchi won the women's figure skating gold medal in Albertville, France. She became the first American woman to do so since Dorothy Hamill in 1976. Yamaguchi went on to win her second straight world championship shortly after the Games and then turned professional. She was a staple on the Stars on Ice tour for many years and participated in the pro circuit. Today, she is still a well-known figure thanks to winning "Dancing with the Stars" and her work as a figure skating analyst. Since her victory at Albertville, two other American women have stood atop the Olympic podium -- Tara Lipinski in 1998 and Sarah Hughes in 2002. With none of the American women competing in Sochi claiming the top spot -- 18-year-old Gracie Gold finished fourth, 22-year-old Ashley Wagner seventh and 15-year-old Polina Edmunds ninth -- the American gold-medal drought continues until at least the 2018 Olympic Games.
With three Olympic bids on the line, all eyes will be the women's free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston on Saturday night. Gracie Gold will take the lead into the final skate after her dazzling performance in Thursday's short program. Polina Edmunds is in second, followed by Mirai Nagasu in third and defending U.S. champion Ashley Wagner in fourth. But recent history indicates that it might be better to not finish in first. The last American to win the U.S. title and go on to win the Olympic gold medal the same year was Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. The last American to strike Olympic gold, Sarah Hughes in 2002, finished third at the U.S. Championships that year. At the previous Olympics, Tara Lipinski took home gold after finishing second at the U.S. Championships. Michelle Kwan, the U.S. champion in both 1998 and 2002, finished with the silver and bronze medals respectively.
The Junior Ladies competition at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships gets underway tonight in Boston. While the Championship Ladies event will undoubtedly garner the most attention, the future stars of the sport make tonight’s short program a must-watch. Olympic hopeful and potential medal contender Gracie Gold was the U.S. Junior National Champion just two years ago in 2012. Other notable past winners include 2010 Olympian and fellow Sochi hopeful Mirai Nagasu in 2007 and 2002 Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes in 1998. The top three junior ladies from 2013 -- Polina Edmunds, Mariah Bell and Barbie Long -- all will be competing in the main event this year.
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