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Zawadzki pushes through, holds off Gold for win

U.S. junior champ tops in free; Lacoste misses minimum TES by .01

Agnes Zawadzki's first senior international win came by a 1.12-point margin.
Agnes Zawadzki's first senior international win came by a 1.12-point margin. (Jay Adeff)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(09/16/2012) - This time, Agnes Zawadzki didn't let a win slip through her fingers.

The U.S. bronze medalist lost the free skate Sunday at the 2012 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic to teammate Gracie Gold, but with a 5.87-point lead after the short program, her solid -- if flawed -- program to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" sealed her first international senior win.

"It wasn't a perfect program, but I felt like it was a lot better than [my free skates] last year," Zawadzki said. "I didn't let my mistakes rattle me, and I kept pushing through."

The 18-year-old, who trains in Colorado Springs under Christy Krall, opened with a triple toe loop, followed by a triple Lutz-double toe combination and a shaky triple flip. Although she fell on the back end of an under-rotated triple Salchow-double toe, she fought through to earn 107.71 points, and her total of 172.95 was just enough to hold off Gold.

"After this competition, I feel like I have a new confidence in myself, especially in the long," Zawadzki said. "The short has always been a little easier for me."

Zawadzki, who next competes at the Rostelecom Cup, held Nov. 9-11, is working to add a triple Lutz-triple toe combination to her program and also plans to improve her spins.

"I just looked at my protocol, and I have to work on my spin levels; I think I got two Level 3s," she said. "I am just not holding [the positions] long enough. I want to get that fixed."

Gold, the reigning U.S. junior champion, opened her Life is Beautiful program with two superb combinations: a triple Lutz-triple toe (worth 11.50 points) and triple flip-loop-triple Salchow (10 points). Although she fell on her final jump, an under-rotated triple flip, she won the free skate with 111.78 points and finished with 171.15 overall.

"I thought the program went really well. No one skates clean this early in the season," the 17-year-old said. "I thought it was a really good effort. I kept it moving along and kept the flow, although I lost some speed on that last jump.

"I just have to keep working on it, keep pushing myself. There is that extra 30 seconds [in a senior free] that I'm not used to yet, but for my first senior season, I think it's coming along really well."

There was disappointment for Canadian champion Amélie Lacoste, who, like Zawadzki, skated her free to "Rhapsody in Blue."

Despite a solid program featuring four clean triples, the Canadian champion finished .01 shy of a 48-point technical elements score, the minimum qualifying standard the ISU has set for the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships.

She took bronze with 161.53 points.

"I am a little bit mad at myself because I could have done it very easily by just adding a double loop on to my double Lutz," Lacoste, 23, said.

"But you know what, it is the beginning of the season, and I still have Skate Canada, and I plan to do way better there to get the [required] points."