KENT, Wash. — Ashley Wagner knows there's a lot of pressure on her to help return American women to the top of the international scene.
But that wasn't the pressure Wagner was feeling before she delivered a solid performance to win the short program Saturday at Skate America.
It was about getting my feet wet, the defending U.S. champion said. I was a little rusty out there, but it's been seven months since my last real competition.
Wagner scored 60.61 points, putting her more than a 1.5 points ahead of Russia's Adelina Sotnikova going into Sunday's free skate.
And her score could have been even better, if not for a botched triple loop.
The triple loop was not exactly the quality I was looking for and I'm so bummed because I think it's one of my strongest jumps, said Wagner, who is seeking her first Grand Prix title. That was my first short program out under the spotlight and the crowd so I'm pleased with how it went.
I was able to stay on my feet and put out something that was quality. I'm happy with the day.
Sotnikova wasn't quite as pleased. The 16-year-old, who won the 2011 world junior title along with three of the last four Russian senior titles, popped her final jump. She finished with a score of 58.93.
I'm not so happy with what I did today because I did not do what I wanted to do, Sotnikova said through a translator. I popped the last jump and it's a jump that I usually never miss.