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Zawadzki channels Carrie Bradshaw, zips to lead

Gold second despite missing triple-triple; Lacoste hits new high

Agnes Zawadzki owns a lead of almost six points over teammate Gracie Gold.
Agnes Zawadzki owns a lead of almost six points over teammate Gracie Gold. (Jay Adeff)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(09/14/2012) - Once again, Agnes Zawadzki has won a short program in stunning fashion.

Now, she must maintain her momentum going into the free skate.

"I'm so excited, it kind of hasn't hit me yet," Zawadzki said. "I've been working really hard on confidence and my mental mindset coming to competitions, and I'm starting to get the hang of it now."

Skating to the Sex and the City 2 soundtrack, the 18-year-old skater looked anything but tentative Friday. She powered through a huge opening triple Lutz and triple toe-triple toe combination, both of which earned big plus marks from the judges. She didn't put a foot wrong during speedy spins and steps that rated Levels 3 and 4.

Zawadzki earned an impressive 65.24 points, her highest-ever short program score in international competition and the highest international score posted by an American lady since Mirai Nagasu's 70.40 points at the 2010 World Figure Skating Championships.

"Before I hit my starting position, I thought of a couple of things, just to loosen myself up and get ready for the program," Zawadzki said. "I told myself to be confident and trust my training, and just push and smile a lot."

Zawadzki often shines in the short, including at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, where she led by 3.10 points entering the free only to finish third.

This time around, she's working toward something better.

"I want to keep up my short mentality for the free and treat it the same way, even though it's a lot longer," she said. "I'm mostly just focusing on mental toughness and [gaining] confidence because I know I can do everything."

Gracie Gold, competing at her first individual senior international event, had an uncharacteristic error in her short, turning her usually reliable triple flip-triple toe combination into a double-double.

The rest of the program, choreographed by Scott Brown to "Hernando's Hideaway," showed off her speed and attack. She landed a strong triple Lutz, and all three of her spins, as well as her step sequence, gained Level 4, giving her 59.37 points.

"The program is coming along. I know I had the mistake on the flip-toe, but it's a hard combination, and I can't hit it every time," she said. "I had a lot of excitement going into it, and I just really rushed the take-off."

The U.S. junior champion; her coach, Alex Ouriashev; and Brown are focusing on Gold's performance of the program, designed to bring out the 16-year-old's playful side.

"We're really trying to give it that sassy sort of attitude and not have that focus moment where everything falls and you can obviously tell I'm prepping to do a jump," Gold said. "We want to keep that character from beginning to end. It's flirtatious, and there's attitude. It's not sexy or anything -- it's playful."

Canadian champion Amélie Lacoste skated her best short in several seasons, a sophisticated and stylish routine to Peter Gabriel's "The Feeling Begins" that included a strong triple flip-double toe and triple loop, as well as superbly intricate steps and solid spins.

She earned 59.14 points, her highest-ever score for an international short program.

"I'm very happy about it," Lacoste said. "My goal coming to this international senior B was to make the technical points for worlds. In the short, it was 28, and I got 31 points. So one done, one to go for the long."

The program, choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo, has fast become one of her all-time favorites.

"He did a very good job. I love working with him," she said. "It's just very powerful music, and I really have to be down in my knees to present the program."

Fans were taken aback when Lacoste's name was announced here in Salt Lake City: Last season's brunette locks are now pale blonde.

"Everyone tells me they don't recognize me," she said. "I like to change my hair color every year or every two years. Back in 2006 or 2007, I was blonde, and then I went to red hair, and then brown. Now I'm back to blonde, and I'm going to stay blonde because it's a lot of change. I like it."