The women's free skate at Skate America 2016 proved to be a golden experiencefor two members of Team USA, but completely disastrous for the third. Mariah Bell, who rebounded from a sixth place short program finish on Oct. 22 to win the free skate, claimed a surprise silverbehind gold medalist Ashley Wagner, while reigning US national champion Gracie Gold literally fell to fifth place.

Mariah Bell posts personal bests

The 20-year old Bell performed a clean "East of Eden" long program to post a field-best--and ISU personal best-- score of 130.67. Her cumulative total of 191.59 bettered that of bronze medalist Mai Mihara of Japan by more than two points (189.28).

Although reigning world silver medalist Wagner placed second in the long program, she held on to the gold with a 196.44.

Skate America medal sweep hopes dashed

American women last swept the Skate America podium way back in 1996, when Michelle Kwan, Tonia Kwaitkowski, and Sydne Vogel accomplished the feat in Springfield, Massachusetts. Team USA had a chance to complete a sweep until the final moments of the ladies' competition, with Wagner and Bell sitting one-two and Gold up as the last woman to skate. Unfortunately, Gold struggled through her "Daphnis et Chloe" program, falling twice and winding up with a disappointing 184.22 that left her in just fifth place overall.

Gold'sfifth place finish greatly decreases the likelihood that she will earn a return berth to the Grand Prix Final.

Gold's next Grand Prix assignment is to the Trophee de France in mid-November, while Wagner is slated to compete at the Cup of China. Bell had just one Grand Prix assignment.

Action at Skate America 2016 continues this evening from Hoffman Estates, Illinois as the pairs complete their long programs, and the ice dancing teams take part in the short dance round of their competition.

Earlier today in the men's competition, Shoma Uno posted the highest short program score, though a pair of Americans --Ashley Wagner's best friend Adam Rippon and Jason Brown-- are ranked second and third entering tomorrow's finale.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!