Skating fans who attended both the pairs and ladies short programs Thursday might have done a double take.
Kiri Baga, a 17-year-old skater from Bloomington, Minn., competed in both events. She's the only senior-level skater in two divisions at this competition, and one of two skaters who pulled off two events at nationals this year. (The other was Sarah Feng, a novice skater who competed earlier this week in the ladies and ice dance divisions.)
It's a relatively rare feat, and a tough one to do well.
Baga and her partner were eighth after the pairs short program. Skating alone, she was in 13th place.
Wagner is solid
Ashley Wagner's solid short program happened despite everything going wrong -— at least in terms of her many superstitions.
There's apparently quite a bit on her list before every skate. First, she hopes to see something sparkly on the ground. She didn't see anything on her way to the ice at the CenturyLink Center.
Then, she always spots her mom in the audience. Wagner couldn't find her.
And maybe worst of all, she heard a song she counts among her least favorite, from the band O.A.R.
“I was getting more and more nervous as time went on,” she said.
The Quad Watch has begun for the senior men.
That's because in the fall competition season, the U.S. guys were clearly being outgunned by the rest of the world's top skaters, who weren't just doing the four-revolution jumps here and there. They were doing them routinely — and often in combination with a triple jump. (That's seven total revolutions.)
Foreign competitors have been raising the bar even higher by risking the quads in the short program, when the scoring rules regarding “required elements” make any failures much more costly than in the long program.
So for the U.S. senior men, there are major questions going into Friday's short programs: Which skaters have stepped up their games in the past couple of months? And who's still playing it safe?
Some clues can be found on the data sheets that list each competitor's planned jumps. They reveal that among last year's leaders, only defending champion Jeremy Abbott is planning a quad-triple combo in the first phase. Ross Miner, who won bronze last year, has a quad salchow as a solo jump, but has chosen to do his more reliable triple lutz-triple toe for the combo.
And last year's silver medalist, Adam Rippon, didn't list a quad on his short-program sheet and didn't do one in his short-program practice on Thursday.
If Rippon skates cleanly Friday night and puts up a good score, he'll have a long wait to see if his strategy pays off. Quad-jumping rivals Abbott and Miner skate back-to-back near the end, the 18th and 19th of the 20 men competing.
Where's the sound?
An interview that was to be broadcast during the intermission was all video and no audio. The arena announcer made the CenturyLink Center crowd laugh when he said the interviewer and subject were doing their best Beyonce impersonations.
A much bigger hit was the showing of Peggy Fleming's championship skate from the 1967 national championships at Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum. The black-and-white footage was shot from the stage at the south end of the arena, and the music played right along with Fleming's spins and leaps.
Better with age?
The two oldest skaters in the championships had their performances Thursday night.
Tiffany Vise teamed with 35-year-old Don Baldwin, and Linsday Davis was paired with 32-year-old Mark Ladwig. Vise and Baldwin were 10th after the short program while Davis and Ladwig are fifth.
— Erin Golden, Jan DeKnock, Steve Beideck
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