“Don't leave it all on the practice ice.”
That's an often-heard adage among elite skaters, some of whom are quite superstitious about doing complete run-throughs of their programs at Nationals practices. (They think if it goes too perfectly, they won't be able to match it in competition.) Instead, their coaches will have them practice in segments or leave out certain moves.
Clearly, rising star Gracie Gold believes in a different adage: “Practice makes perfect.”
In every practice session on Omaha ice, she has been doing full-out routines — perfectly.
The latest came Wednesday night, when she zipped through the “Hernando's Hideaway” program she will use on Thursday, in the first phase of the senior ladies' competition.
A veteran skating reporter — well aware of the superstition — watched her and then shook his head.
“She should have saved that one for tomorrow,” he said.
Junior ladies event
Wednesday's action also included the finals of the junior ladies' event, where the top two after the short program — Polina Edmunds and Mariah Bell — grabbed the gold and silver medals. Barbie Long moved up a spot to take the bronze past Karen Chen, who finished fourth.
Luck of the draw
The short programs' skating order at nationals is random, with skaters drawing for their positions. And rarely does it produce such a dramatic setup as what will happen for Thursday's senior ladies' event. The audience will have to wait until the final two skaters to see defending champion Ashley Wagner and 2012 bronze medalist Agnes Zawadski. The draw was less kind to former champion Mirai Nagasu, who skates second (a much later position is generally preferred).
Almost the same thing happened in the senior men's draw, with two of the top three — defending champion Jeremy Abbott and 2012 bronze medalist Ross Miner — skating 18th and 19th out of the 20 men who will compete Friday night.
The draw was pretty good for Kiri Baga, the only senior who is competing in two events. When she skates late Thursday afternoon in the pairs (with partner Taylor Toth), she gets to skate early (third). That should give her enough resting time before she skates again a few hours later with the ladies (drawing the 13th position).
In the ice dance: Defending champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White are so dominant that their draw hardly matters. For the record, they'll skate 10th in the 15-team field.
Bits and pieces
On Thursday, the Convention Center rink (no ticket needed) will feature practices for all the senior ice dancers (noon to 2:15 p.m.) and senior men (3:15 to 6:10 p.m.). The last chance to see the senior ladies on the free practice ice will be from 1:50 to 4:45 p.m. Friday. ... Wednesday's opening of the Fanfest area (adjacent to the Convention Center rink) drew an all-ages crowd to the free activities, which include an interactive iPad game, a small rink with skating demonstrations, information on local skating clubs and a place to draw signs for favorite competitors. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily through Sunday. Things get serious on Thursday, with the first day of senior-level competition at the main CenturyLink Arena rink (ticket required for each event). The pairs' short programs start st 4 p.m.; the ladies' short programs are at 7:35 p.m.... For autograph-hunters, all the medalists in the junior ladies and junior pairs events will be at a signing table (near Section 125 in the arena concourse) from 6:30 to 7 p.m.
— Jan DeKnock
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