Wednesday, 18/7/2018 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today

Czisny Clings to First U.S. Title

Alissa Czisny skated to victory capturing the ladies title with a personal best score of 178.06 points. It was a win over World Junior Champion Rachael Flatt who repeated with a silver medal performance that some felt should have been gold. Caroline Zhang last season’s pewter medalist moved up one spot to claim bronze. However, the night really belonged to last season’s bronze medalist Ashley Wagner who gave a World Class performance that catapulted her from twelfth to fourth place.

Czisny took the ice last and had a splendid start to her “Dr. Zhivago” free skate which included a triple Lutz/double toe combination, a triple flip, and a triple loop.

The 21-year old also reeled off a solid double Axel/ double toe combination before things unraveled and she under-rotated and fell on a planned triple Lutz. She also doubled both jumps of a planned triple toe/ triple toe combination, and had a shaky landing on her double Axel.

“The first part of it started well, but I had a couple of mistakes and (I) had to keep trying my best,” Alissa explained. “Throughout the years there have been many disappointments, but I have been able to take them and learn from them and (learn) a lot about life (as well). It has made me a better skater and a better person.”

Despite her struggles, Alissa painted the picture of elegance and sophistication and her spins and footwork were stunning.

“I was a bit disappointed in my program because I’ve been skating much better than that,” Czisny stated about her gold medal performance. “I guess I wanted the moment to be perfect, but it was the best I could do at that time.”

Alissa produced only the third ranked free skate, but when combined with the lead she had built in the short program she overtook the competition to capture her first National Title.

Alissa sat stunned as her score of 112.31 points and her ranking as number one flashed on the scoreboard.

“When I saw the score come up on the screen I felt relief,” she admitted. “I persevered through it all, and I think (that) helped me.”

Last season’s silver medalist Rachael Flatt looked poised and proper as she took to the ice for her free skate set to the music from “Petite Suite” by Debussy.

Her opening jump a double Axel looked steady but then she under-rotated the back-end of the planned triple flip/triple toe combination that followed. She recovered quickly landing five additional triples — two of which were in combination.

Despite a shaky landing on the triple Lutz/double toe/double loop combination the rest of the jumps were strong.

She out-scored Czisny on the technical mark by over seven points. However, despite being technically demanding the program lacked the pizzazz of Czisny’s which cost her the title.

“I thought I skated very well and (I) am excited to receive the silver medal,” Flatt said smiling. “I am speechless and so excited to go to Worlds. (I am) thrilled it is in L.A.”

2007 World Junior Champion Caroline Zhang managed to hang on to the third spot despite struggling with the edge takeoffs on three of her jumps, Her opening jump a planned triple flip/triple toe was also downgraded. She did manage a clean triple loop and a triple Salchow. Her non-jumping elements were very strong. Especially, her layback spin which earned +3 GOE’s from four of the nine judges.

“I think I did pretty good overall,” Zhang said about her program. “It was just a silly mistake and was off my right hip and it cost me a lot. I haven’t missed one in the last two weeks. I got all the levels I was hoping for so I think it was a pretty good program.”

Last season’s bronze medalist Ashley Wagner appeared recovered from her disastrous short program Thursday which left the 17-year-old in twelfth place. Ashley delivered a brilliant skate that was the strongest program of the evening.

Skating to “Spartacus” the teen performed a crowd-pleasing performance which included five clean triple jumps. She stepped out of her triple Lutz and later under-rotated the second jump of a planned triple toe/double toe/double loop combination.

Wagner’s non-jumping elements were all level four except for the straight line steps which were level three.

Wagner picked up 115.05 points for her free skate and finished the competition in fourth place with 165.33 points.

2008 ladies Champion Mirai Negasu wiped tears from her eyes as she stepped onto the ice at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

The 15-year-old from Arcadia, California was under intense pressure. She entered the free skate in sixth place after a series of subpar performances at competitions this past fall. Her confidence appeared shaken. What seemed so easy and natural at fourteen had become difficult and foreign as puberty stepped in at fifteen.

“I was able to defeat the evil side of me and that was an accomplishment,” Mirai said with relief. “Every day is a battle with the bad side and I have to make myself train.”

Yet Negasu rallied back with a strong skate worth 105.20 points. Her program included six triple jumps although she received downgrades and an edge watch on both her triple flips. Her components were only second to Czisny which helped lift her one spot to fifth place overall with an event score of 159.99 points.

“I was really nervous before I went out. My biggest fear was putting all that practice to waste,” the teen said of her tears. “I was happy I did my best and proved to myself I can be a contender.”

Katrina Hacker sat sixth overall with an event total of 156.28 points after her elegant free program to “Scheherazade” by Nickolai Rimsky Korsakov. The 18-year-old from Cambridge, Massachusetts produced a strong skate but lacked the complexity of the top skaters.

The World team will consist of Alissa Czisney and Rachael Flatt while Caroline Zhang will join them in Vancouver at the four Continents Championships.

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