Event: Ladies' singles
The big buzz about Gold started at last year's Nationals, when she breezed to the junior ladies title with an arsenal of jumps — including a virtuoso triple flip-triple toe combo in the short program — that few senior ladies even attempt. Since then, skate fans have been asking: “Could Gold win gold at the 2014 Olympics?” But first, of course, she will have to prove that she is ready for the senior ladies division — where the skating is faster, the spins more intricate, the presentation more polished. The signals were mixed last fall when she took on an array of top international seniors during the Grand Prix Series. Nerves got the best of her at Skate Canada, where she finished only seventh. But two weeks later she rebounded at the Rostelecom Cup in Russia with a strong, confident skate that won her the silver medal. Could she really be America's next golden girl? All eyes will be on her in Omaha.
The history of U.S. women's skating is filled with the names of legendary “ice queens” whose reigns spanned enough years to make them household names, including Olympic gold medalists Dorothy Hamill (three years), Carol Heiss (four years) and Peggy Fleming (five years, with her 1967 win coming in Omaha), But since Michelle Kwan nabbed her ninth title in 2005 — tying her for the record with the late Maribel Vinson (her final win was in 1937) — no one has been able to score back-to-back victories. In that span, there have been six different champions and no Olympic gold: Sasha Cohen, Kimmie Meissner, Mirai Nagasu, Alissa Czisny, Rachael Flatt, Czisny again and Ashley Wagner.