former champ comes in fifth

Ack. Figure skater Mirai Nagasu, who made a splash last year when she became national champion at age 14, fell far short of the top spot this weekend at the United States Figure Skating Championships in Cleveland, finishing fifth overall. The win went to Alissa Czisny: Czisny Not Perfect, but Strong Enough to Win Title.

Things were not looking good for Mirai after a disappointing short program, during which she rammed into the rink wall. Skating on a bum ankle, she managed to hold things together to the end to at last finish strong. Still, going from champ to fifth has got to suck. This Los Angeles Times piece is particularly harsh: Mirai Nagasu has no one to blame but herself.

In third place was 15-year-old Caroline Zhang of Irvine, California, who won the world junior title in 2007. Skating to "Ave Maria," she reportedly received the loudest ovation from audience after her performance on Saturday night. She will be first alternate for the U.S. at the World Figure Skating Championships in March. She and Nagasu were also chosen to compete in the world junior championships next month: More double axels and triple loops.

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