Triumphant Shin writes another comeback story

Dallas skater wins gold after overcoming back injury

Ashley Shin captured the intermediate ladies gold medal by 0.35 points.
Ashley Shin captured the intermediate ladies gold medal by 0.35 points. (TSS Photography)


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By Renee Felton, special to
(12/14/2011) - Thirteen-year-old Ashley Shin knows a thing or two about comebacks. She came back to skating in February after suffering a severe back injury on a double Axel fall. And at this competition, she came back once again -- this time from ninth place after the short program to win intermediate ladies gold at her first U.S. Junior Championships.

The Dallas FSC representative earned 68.05 points for her Carmen free skate. For her technical elements, she earned 38.00 points, easily the best in the field. She executed a triple toe-double toe combination to start and added two more triple jumps and a pair of Level 4 spins.

"I was more relaxed today after being so nervous yesterday for the short program," Shin said. "I'm happy I did a complete program."

Coach Olga Ganicheva noted her student was "dying to get back on the ice" while she rehabbed from injury.

"Ashley loves to skate and is happy to be here competing with these ladies," she said. "She is a great skater."

As for the gold-medal win?

"I feel like I'm flying," Shin said.

Silver and bronze belonged to rink mates Elizabeth Nguyen, who won the short program, and Tyler Pierce. Both ladies train with coach Tammy Gambill at the All Year FSC.

Nguyen earned 99.06 total points, including 62.79 for her free skate.

"I am so happy I got a medal after I did terribly last year," Nguyen said. "I'm especially proud I landed the triple Salchow-double toe."

Gambill laughed when her student referenced the 17th-place finish in juvenile ladies a season ago.

"At this point, it's a matter of Elizabeth keeping her focus," Gambill explained. "This week she put out three solid programs. I'm really proud of her."

Pierce, whose scores added up to 95.89 points, exudes happiness on and off the ice. She certainly has had something to smile about all week long -- after setting the best score in qualifying on Monday, she placed second in the short program and held her medal standing Wednesday.

"I have had a ton of fun at my first nationals," she said. "I'm happy that both Elizabeth and I medaled. And I loved traveling to East Lansing."

Gambill lauds Pierce for always doing her job while wearing a smile.

"She loves to skate and it shows," she said. "She makes me smile every day, even in practice."

Dalia Rivkin, the 2011 U.S. juvenile champion, entered the free skate in third place and came out of it with the pewter medal. She earned 95.24 total points.