BOSTON – Gracie Gold won her first U.S. figure-skating title Saturday night and all but guaranteed herself a spot at the Olympics next month in Sochi, Russia.
Still to be decided is who joins her at the Olympics after two-time defending U.S. champion Ashley Wagner — a former Washington resident — finished a distant fourth after a mistake-marred free skate.
Gold wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t need to be after building a big lead in the short program Thursday.
When the Springfield, Ill., skater finished, she buried her face in her hands.
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“The nerves are something I’ve battled with and have let get in my head, but tonight I was strangely calm,” the 18-year-old Gold said.
Gold had 211.69 points to beat second-place Polina Edmunds of San Jose, Calif., by 18.06. Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian from Arcadia, Calif., was third.
U.S. Figure Skating officials will announce Sunday which three women go to the Winter Games, taking into account past performances.
Wagner, 22, finished fifth at worlds, helping the Americans earn a third Olympic berth, and got the bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final.
But Wagner’s program fell apart early at nationals.
“I felt like lead,” she said.
Wagner crashed to the ice on the second jump of a triple-triple combination. After that mishap, her normal liveliness vanished. Wagner fell again on a triple loop and failed to cleanly land two other triple jumps.
When it was over, Wagner stared blankly into the stands as fans voiced their support for her past successes.
“It’s embarrassing, as a two-time national champion, to put out a performance like that,” Wagner said.
“Luckily, I had a decent season that definitely helps my case (for being an Olympian).”
Earlier, Olympic silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White earned their sixth consecutive national ice-dance title.
They finished with 200.19 points for a cushion of almost 19 points over the second-place team of Madison Chock and Evan Bates.
Their sixth U.S. championship surpassed the record for ice dance set by Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto.
• Patrick Chan captured his seventh consecutive Canadian figure-skating title. The three-time world champion and favorite heading into the Olympics scored 277.42 points in Ottawa.
Kaetlyn Osmond successfully defended her women’s title.