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Young blood trumps Cohen

SPOKANE, Wash. — Sasha Cohen's comeback is over, but the adventure is just beginning for Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu.

Flatt, 17, won her first title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday night, overpowering the rest of the field with a program that stacks up technically with anyone in the world.

She scored 200.11 points, finishing more than 10 points ahead of the entertaining, energetic Nagasu, 16.

The Olympic team was named later Saturday, selected by the U.S. Figure Skating Association, but it wasn't likely the selection committee would stray from the 1-2 finishers.

Cohen, meanwhile, is left to wonder "what if."

The 2006 Olympic silver medalist, 25, was skating in her first competition since the 2006 worlds, and her eight-month comeback was beset by challenges, from injuries to equipment problems. But what cost her in the end was her inconsistency.

As beautiful to watch as Cohen is, the knock has always been her inability to deliver when it matters most. She has never done clean short and long programs in the same major competition, and that dubious streak continued at these championships.

Cohen, a close second to Nagasu after Thursday's short program, had a sloppy, error-filled free skate and wound up a distant fourth. Ashley Wagner was third.

"I was disappointed with my free skate," Cohen said. "It wasn't what I was looking for, but I still enjoyed being out there and performing for the audience. I was really happy I could come back to fight and be here after four years."

Ice dancers set up rare U.S. power show

As recently as a decade ago, cracking the top 10 in international competition was a monumental achievement for a U.S. dance team. Now the Americans are sending two medal contenders to the Olympics.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White won their second straight national title, beating Olympic and world silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto for the first time.

Long overshadowed by Belbin and Agosto, Davis and White left little doubt they are equal to the other top teams in the world.

"I think it's really a testament to our training to come out and beat an amazing team, especially going into the Olympics," White said. "But it feels like the hard work isn't done."

Davis and White finished with a U.S.-record 222.29 points, a little less than four points in front of Belbin and Agosto. Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates were third. All three pairs were named to the Olympic team.

Davis and White have been quietly climbing the international ranks.

Their win at last month's Grand Prix final was the first by a U.S. team. (Belbin and Agosto didn't compete because she had an infected tooth.)

olympic facts

U.S. figure skating team

Women: Named late Saturday; go to sports.tampabay.com for selections. Men: Jeremy Abbott, Evan Lysacek, Johnny Weir. Pairs: Caydee Denney-

Jeremy Barrett, Amanda Evora-Mark Ladwig (all train at Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, Manatee County).Ice dance: Meryl Davis-Charlie White, Tanith Belbin-Ben Agosto, Emily

Samuelson-Evan Bates

Winter Games: Feb. 12-28, Vancouver

Young blood trumps Cohen 01/23/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 5:17pm]
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