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London calling: Gold gets new dress, combination

Gilles seeks Canadian citizenship; Shnapir hoping to return to birthplace

Gracie Gold is hoping to put together a clean short and a clean free skate in London, something she has yet to do this season.
Gracie Gold is hoping to put together a clean short and a clean free skate in London, something she has yet to do this season. (Getty Images)

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By Amy Rosewater, special to icenetwork.com
(03/13/2013) - Gracie Gold will have a different look when it comes to her short program, both with her on-ice look and with her jumps.

She is unveiling a new dress (still red but a better fit), and she will be performing a triple-Lutz-triple toe instead of a triple flip-triple toe.

Most important, she hopes to have a complete look this week at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario.

Gold, the U.S. silver medalist, has struggled to put together a clean short program and free skate at one event. In her words, she hoped to perform her short program the way she did at the Rostelecom Cup and the free the way she did at the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Omaha, Neb., where she won the free skate.

"I have had inconsistency," said Gold, who has been working with a sports psychologist. "I have been working on it. Sometimes, at a competition, I'm too pumped up and I'm too nervous. Other times, I tend to hold back, and that doesn't work as well, either."

Gold, 17, has been having solid run-throughs while in London, landing triple-triples in practices here. The reason for the change in the combination comes after receiving edge calls on the triple flip. The short program is Thursday.

There is plenty of pressure on Gold this week. She and Ashley Wagner must have a combined placement totaling 13 for the U.S to secure a third ladies spot at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

But she is also trying to take in some of the fun in her worlds debut.

"It is such a privilege to be in company with the best skaters in the world," she said. "It really is a dream come true."

Home Canada

Piper Gilles was born in Rockford, Ill., but she will be performing in her soon-to-be home country of Canada this week. Gilles, who competes in ice dancing with Paul Poirier, hopes to have her Canadian permanent residency papers approved soon. Her grandmother was born in Sarnia and is Canadian; her mother, Bonnie, who was born in the United States, became a Canadian citizen last year. Piper's twin sister, Alexe, is also seeking her Canadian citizenship. A former U.S. junior champion, Alexe competed at the 2013 Canadian Figure Skating Championships, placing 13th. Their brother, Todd, who represented the United States and competed with Emily Samuelson, has retired from competitive skating. Piper said she is "hopeful" she will earn her Canadian citizenship in time to compete in Sochi less than a year from now.

Shnapir's Russian roots

Simon Shnapir was born in Moscow but moved with his family to the United States when he was a toddler. The last time Shnapir, 25, was in Russia was about 10 years ago. He hopes to make a return visit with pairs partner Marissa Castelli next year, when the Olympic Games are held in Sochi. "I still feel a connection there," he said. Next year could be a special one for him, as the 2014 U.S. Championships are being held in Boston, where he lives and trains. Shnapir said he can speak and understand Russian but speaks it most at skating competitions when he sees competitors from that country. "It's there when I need it," he said.

Osmond's triple-triple

Canadian ladies champion Kaetlyn Osmond has a triple-triple planned in her program, but it's not the one she has been practicing here in London. In practices, she has been landing triple flip-triple toe and triple Lutz-triple toe, but she plans to do a triple toe-triple toe in competition. "I might add [the others] to future programs," she said.

Should it stay or should it go?

Wagner had no problems with her triple flip-triple toe in practice late Wednesday, and it looks as if it will be in her short program Thursday.

"Right now, I'm strongly leaning toward yes," Wagner said. "I want it in."

Of course, Wagner deferred the final decision to her coach, John Nicks. But, the way it seemed Wednesday, there's a good chance we will see it Thursday. Nicks nodded after Wagner landed the triple-triple during her run-through, but when asked if it was in the program, he smiled and said, "It was in today."

Picture that

The U.S. world team took a photo for SKATING magazine Tuesday in London, and it was the first time Gold was in the picture.

"I always remember looking at that worlds photo in SKATING and the skaters were all sitting there so perfectly, and they always seemed so much older to me," Gold said. "It still seems unreal to me that I'm in that picture now."