Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018
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Bowling Green's Alissa Czisny in 2nd after short skate

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- No tricks or potions here. Just Mirai Nagasu being her usual enchanting self.

The 2008 champion edged out fellow previous winners Alissa Czisny and Rachael Flatt in the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Thursday night with a beguiling routine to "Witches of Eastwick."

But the margin between the three is so small -- just a point -- the title is still up for grabs in Saturday's free skate.

Nagasu scored 63.35 points, while Bowling Green's Czisny, the 2009 champ, had 62.50 points. Flatt, the defending champion, scored 62.32.

Nagasu was fourth at the Vancouver Olympics, and her lyrical style, expressiveness, and charming personality made many think she was on the verge of becoming figure skating's next big star. But the 17-year-old doesn't have quite the confidence in herself others do.

"A lot of people still expected a lot of me, even though I hadn't skated in a while," Nagasu said. "All the best skaters can step up their game, and I'm learning how to do that."

So is Czisny.

Czisny has long had a problem getting her psyche to match her skill and elegance. After winning the national title in 2009, she bombed at the world championships in Los Angeles. Looking to redeem herself at last year's national championships, she was simply dreadful and was out of the running before the short program even finished.

Her program Thursday night, to a piano concerto, showcased the feather soft quality of her skating. She landed her opening triple lutz-double toe loop combination with ease and certainty and then breezed through the rest of her program.

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