US Figure Skating announces the three women who will participate at Winter Olympics

Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Olympics

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Avoiding controversy, U.S. Figure Skating on Saturday announced that it had nominated Bradie Tennell, Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen for the three women's singles berths on the U.S team for the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The three women finished in that order at the U.S. figure skating championships, but the selection committee empaneled by the sport's national governing body had been given the latitude to weigh the results of other events over the past year in making its decision.

The alternates, in order, are fourth-place finisher Ashley Wagner, Mariah Bell, and Angela Wang.

The announcement was timed for inclusion on the Saturday version of NBC's "Today" show. Tennell won the title with 219.51 points, followed by Nagasu (213.84), and Chen (198.59). Wagner amassed 196.19 points.

Tennell, 19, of Carpentersville, Ill., won her first national title by prevailing in the short program Wednesday and again in the long program Friday. Nagasu, who is from Arcadia but trains in Colorado Springs, was a tearful second. Nagasu, 24, was a member of the 2010 U.S. Olympic team at the Vancouver Winter Games but was passed over in 2014.

She finished third at the 2014 U.S. championships but was left home in favor of Wagner, who finished fourth at the U.S. competition that year. Karen Chen, 18, was third here, one year after she won the U.S. title

Wagner, 26, won a silver medal at the 2016 World Championships but has not skated consistently well since then. The three-time national champion finished seventh at the 2017 world competition, three spots behind Chen. She withdrew from her second Grand Prix series assignment this season because of a foot infection and afterward scrapped her long program and returned to an old one, to music from "La La Land."

After her short program was ranked only fifth here she said she would revamp or reject it if she were to make the Olympic team, a notion that might have disturbed the selection committee.

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Wagner said Friday night that she believed she had been under-marked in the two parts of the competition, but she hurt her own cause by "popping" a jump -- reducing its difficulty in midjump -- and doing a single salchow instead of a triple salchow. She also was penalized for under-rotating a triple lutz jump, missteps that cost her valuable points.

The U.S. women will face stiff competition in Pyeongchang, especially from Russian and Japanese women, who have consistently displayed superior technical skills. U.S. women were shut out of the medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and again in 2014 at Sochi, Russia.

The U.S. championships will continue Saturday with the men's and pairs finals. The competition will end Sunday with the ice dance finale.

U.S. Figure Skating also said Chen, Nagasu, and Tennell will be sent to the World Championships. Sixteen-year-old Starr Andrews of Los Angeles, who won over the crowd with her long program to her vocal rendition of "One Moment in Time," was named to the team for the Four Continents Championships, along with Mariah Bell and Wagner. In addition, Andrews was chosen to compete in the 2018 junior world championships.

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