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Gao gets into Final after Lipnitskaia withdraws

Harvard freshman placed second at Skate America, fourth at Trophée Eric Bompard

American Christina Gao will try to medal at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi.
American Christina Gao will try to medal at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi. (Getty Images)

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By icenetwork.com
(11/30/2012) - Team USA's Christina Gao needed a spot to open up to reach the 2012 Grand Prix Final, and it came when Russian phenom Julia Lipnitskaia withdrew after suffering a concussion during practice.

The Harvard freshman from Cincinnati, Ohio earned the spot based on her outstanding performance at Skate America -- where she won the silver medal -- and a fourth-place finish at Trophée Eric Bompard. Those results were good enough for her to become the first alternate, and now she will have the chance to compete in the Final.

"I worked really hard this season," Gao said. "I'm excited and honored to go to the Grand Prix Final. I competed well in both of my Grand Prix events and was sad to have missed the Final by one spot.

"While I'm excited, I want to wish Julia a fast recovery and hope she gets well soon," she continued.

Gao, who trains with Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson at the Skating Club of Boston, placed fifth at last year's U.S. championships and seventh at the 2012 World Junior Championships. Prior to this season, Gao's only senior Grand Prix appearance was at the 2011 Rostelecom Cup, where she finished 10th.

Gao will compete alongside U.S. champion Ashley Wagner in the ladies field. Also representing Team USA in Sochi are reigning world silver medalist ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who seek their fourth consecutive Grand Prix Final title.

The competitions are set for Dec. 6-9, 2012, at the Iceberg Skating Palace, the official competition venue of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.