7:35 AM EDT, April 21, 2012
On the final day of the figure skating season, the grind apparently caught up with everyone as the women finished the World Team Trophy in Tokyo.
U.S. champion Ashley Wagner won the free skate and moved from fifth to third overall despite negative grades on three of 12 elements. Reigning world bronze medalist Akiko Suzuki of Japan wound up first overall despite four negative grades. World champion Carolina Kostner had a fall among her three negative grades, popped a double axel and did just three clean triple jumps as she staggered to third in the free skate (thanks to those friendly component scores) and second overall.
And Gracie Gold of the U.S. fought through a respectable effort in her first senior free skate, with flaws on three triple jumps and a popped double axel, to finish fifth in both the free skate and overall, just .04 behind Adelina Sotnikova of Russia but 10 points behind Wagner and 20 back of Suzuki.
"Most of the pressure was from myself to come out and prove myself," Gold said. " I did that (finishing fourth) in the short program. I was a little disappointed in this free skate but I still think I put out a good performance."
The United States finished second by two points to Japan in the six-team event, which will debut on the Olympic program in 2014.
Poor performances Friday by U.S. men Jeremy Abbott and Adam Rippon cost their team the title.
Gold had an ungainly landing on her opening jump, a triple lutz, stepped out of a triple loop and got a wrong edge deduction on a triple flip, leaving her with just two clean triple jumps. Her total score, 169.65, was seven points lower than her best in a junior event this season, even though juniors do one fewer scored element.
"The mistake on the first jump didn't shake me," she insisted. "It made me focus more."
Gold, 16, who trains in the Chicago suburbs, will move up to the senior level full time next season. She came from nowhere to win the U.S. junior title and finish second at junior worlds this season after having faled to qualify for nationals in 2010.
Gold, the only woman among the 12 WTT singles entrants with no previous senior experience, beat reigning world silver medalist Alena Leonova of Russia and Kanako Murakami of Japan, who was fifth at last month's worlds.
She is certain to get one senior Grand Prix assignment next fall.
"It was a good experience to have one senior competition under my belt," Gold said. "Now I know I can compete with these skaters."
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