by Ralph Routon
Rachael Flatt simply couldn't summon another of her usual strong performances Saturday night, and the Colorado Springs teenager had to settle for second place at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, N.C.
Flatt, the 2010 Olympian who battled injuries in December and revamped her entire short program in the past month, had a few shaky landings in her free program, and wound up being unable to defend her U.S. ladies title.
"That was frustrating," Flatt admitted moments after her performance.
Alissa Czisny, the 2009 national champion who had bombed at this event last year, came back with new confidence, nailed six triple jumps and clearly deserved the victory. She finished with 191.24 points to Flatt's 183.83.
Those two will represent the U.S. at the World Championships in March at Tokyo. Meanwhile, staying home will be Mirai Nagasu, the favorite this week who had won the short program. Nagasu was sloppy on two landings and some other elements, prompting her coach Frank Carroll to tell her when she came off the ice, "You gave it away." Nagasu finished third at 177.26.
As disappointed as Nagasu was, 16-year-old Agnes Zawadzki was thrilled to come away fourth, as the 2010 U.S. junior champion from Colorado Springs wowed the audience with her mixture of jumps and content. She fell once, toward the end of her program, but held the fourth spot that she had secured in the short program.
Earlier Saturday, the Broadmoor Skating Club picked up a national title as Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin won the senior pairs. That event will be televised Sunday along with live coverage of the men's free program, as veteran Ryan Bradley of Colorado Springs leads the field that includes two-time defending champion Jeremy Abbott, who formerly trained in the Springs until last year.
The coverage starts at 2 p.m. MST Sunday on NBC.