The big names in women's figure skating at the Sochi Olympics are Yuna Kim and Mao Asada. The best name might belong to the American champion, Gracie Gold.
It certainly will be the most memorable if she can match her moniker by standing atop the podium in a few weeks.
Gold won her first national championship in January in Boston with two superb programs. Working with Frank Carroll, who coached Evan Lysacek to the men's title four years ago, Gold has improved exponentially this season.
She will need to continue that rapid growth at the games, because defending champion Kim and silver medalist Asada are imposing opponents.
"There are so many different variables, and the women's field is so good this year," the 18-year-old Gold said. "Yuna Kim and Asada and then all the new kids on the block.
"I think the U.S. definitely has a strong team for the team event, definitely a chance to medal, if not win. I definitely think in singles I have a chance to medal; so do a lot of people. Who is going to leave everything out on the ice? The Olympics is about, 'This is what I have, go ahead and beat it.'"
Gold gave everything she had at the national championships in edging 15-year-old Polina Edmunds and 2010 Olympic fourth-place finisher Mirai Nagasu. But Nagasu was left off the team for the top American skater, Ashley Wagner, who struggled in Boston but was given a spot because of her strong international record.
While Wagner reboots, Gold has taken over the spotlight. Unlike the days of Tonya and Nancy and its aftermath, when figure skating was front and center even in non-Olympic years, the sport rarely leaps into the limelight now. But with the Sochi Games about to kick off, people are paying attention to the lutz-and-loop crowd.
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