It’s not like they don’t know what to expect. The three women named Sunday to represent the U.S. at the world figure skating championships — Gracie Gold, Polina Edmunds and Ashley Wagner — are the same three the U.S. sent to the event in 2014 and 2015.
That won’t make it any easier to end a nine-year shutout, but it can’t hurt. American women have not medaled at the world championships since 2006, the longest drought since the early 1900s. With the worlds in Boston 10 weeks from now, the three hope their history with the event — and the psychological boost from being on home ice — can help them give performances that will get the U.S. back on the podium.
“Experience can play a really big factor,” said Gold, who won her first U.S. title in Boston and her second Saturday at Xcel Energy Center. “And having skated at the TD Garden, I think the familiarity will play to our advantage.
“We’ve had some great skates in Boston, and the stars look like they are aligning. I think we have nothing to lose, and we’re all going to lay it out there.”
The U.S. also will send three men, three ice dance teams and two pairs to the world championships, which run from March 28 to April 3 at Boston’s TD Garden. Adam Rippon, who won his first U.S. title Sunday at Xcel, will join silver medalist Max Aaron and bronze medalist Nathan Chen in the men’s competition.
The top three dance teams from the U.S. championships — Maia and Alex Shibutani (gold), Madison Chock and Evan Bates (silver) and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (bronze) — will return to worlds for the second consecutive year. Newly crowned pairs champs Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea will join silver medalists Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim in Boston. Chock and Bates were the only U.S. skaters to medal at worlds last year, taking the silver.
Gold, Edmunds and Wagner finished 1-2-3 at the championships Saturday. Gold will skate at the world championships for the fourth time, with her best result a fourth place in 2015. Wagner will make her sixth appearance at the event and has finished between fourth and seventh in each of the past four years. At 17, Edmunds has gone to worlds twice and landed in eighth place both times.
No American woman medaled in the first 11 editions of the world championships, a drought ended by Beatrix Loughran’s bronze in 1924. The current dry spell is the longest since — including the period immediately after the 1961 plane crash that killed the entire U.S. team as it traveled to the worlds in Czechoslovakia. The last American women to medal at the event were Kimmie Meissner (gold) and Sasha Cohen (bronze) in 2006.
With Russian, Korean and Japanese stars now dominating the world scene, the U.S. women must perfect their triple-triple combination jumps and move past their recent inability to skate two clean programs. Wagner said she and her teammates will have to land two triple-triples in the free skate. If they can do that, she believes their artistry can push them past some younger Russian skaters whose performances are less expressive.
Being on home soil is not a cure-all; the Americans were shut out in the last worlds held in this country, in Los Angeles in 2009.
“I think it’s never a question of whether the U.S. ladies are capable of being on that podium,” Wagner said. “It’s more, ‘When are they going to step up to the challenge?’
“This year, it’s going to be about going out there and nailing those triple-triple combinations and putting up the technical marks and performing the hell out of those programs. That’s what’s going to get us on the world podium. I think we’re capable of putting that out.”