6:58 PM EST, January 26, 2012
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- There is an easy way for U.S. Figure Skating to improve Gracie Gold's chances of becoming a factor at the 2014 Winter Olympics:
Give her one of the three women's spots at the Four Continents Championships, a senior event Feb. 7-12 in Colorado Springs.
"In theory, we could do that," USFS president Patricia St. Peter said Thursday. "Her name will be among those considered because of what she has accomplished this season."
The Four Continents and World Championship teams will be named this weekend.
Gold, 16, was a runaway winner in the junior women's event that ended Wednesday. Her jumps already are better and more consistent than any of the senior U.S. women.
U.S. women have gone five seasons without a medal at senior worlds. The top three skaters at last year's nationals, Alissa Czisny, Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu, have been at a combined eight world meets without getting to the podium. Their best finish is fifth by both Flatt in 2009 and Czisny last season.
The Four Continents event includes leading skaters from Canada, China, Japan and the United States.
Going to the event would give Gold, of Springfield, Ill., the chance to see whether she can handle a free skate that is 14 percent longer (four minutes compared to three minutes, 30 seconds). It would also put her in front of international judges for just the second time in her career.
Because Gold did not qualify for last year's nationals, she did not earn an international assignment this season but got one when a place opened at the Junior Grand Prix in Estonia. She won that competition.
As junior national champion, Gold has earned a place on the U.S. team at the Junior World Championships Feb. 27-Mar. 4 in Minsk, Belarus.
Three competitions in a month would be a lot for Gold, but two of them would be in the United States.
It's a gamble U.S. Figure Skating officials should take.
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