Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold, and a talent-rich field of senior-level ladies embarked upon the quest for the national title at the 2017 US figure skating championships on Jan. 19 at Kansas City's Sprint Center. The short program results set the stage for a fierce showdown during Saturday evening's free skate, as the top three contenders finished the competition's first segment separated by less than two points.

Karen Chen, Mirai Nagasu, Ashley Wagner rank one, two, three after short

Leading the way with an impressive 72.82 --the highest short program mark ever recorded by a woman at US nationals-- is 17-year old Karen Chen, who told reporters post-skate that she was "thrilled" with her performance to "On Golden Pond".

Also faring well despite a disappointing Grand Prix series performance last fall was 2008 US national champ and 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu, who skated to second place with a 71.95. Reigning world silver medalist and pre-event favorite Ashley Wagner, who is seeking her fourth national title in six years, ranks third (70.94).

At the tender age of 14, Tessa Hong made a splash in her senior nationals debut with a fourth-place worthy 65.02, while reigning US champion Gracie Gold --who has faced struggles on the ice since she dropped to a disappointing fourth place finish at last year's worlds-- enters the long program ranked fifth (64.85). Despite her impressive competition resume --which features two US titles and a trip to the 2014 Olympics-- Gold will be in danger of not making the three-woman contingent that will represent the nation at worlds in Helsinki this spring if she doesn't fare better during the free skate.

More ladies' skating results

The following ladies round out the top 10 finishers per the 2017 US Figure Skating Championships results following the short:

  • 6. Mariah Bell, 63.33
  • 7. Caroline Zhang, 62.55
  • 8. Paige Rydberg, 61.60
  • 9. Bradie Tennell, 59.77
  • 10. Livvy Shilling, 59.73

Senior-level competition at the 2017 US Figure Skating Championships continues Friday with the ice dancing and men's short programs.