Savage native Kirsten Olson was able to climb just one spot in the standings in the junior ladies free skate, finishing seventh at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Tuesday night.
Olson, who was in eighth place after falling in the short program, started her performance boldly with the commanding music of "Libertango" pumping through the speakers of the Xcel Energy Center, but she faltered on the second of her two planned triple lutzes, turning it into a single. Coach Rohene Ward, also competing in the men's senior division, had just put the second triple lutz in her program after the Midwestwern Sectionals.
"She only had one mistake, and that was the single lutz," Ward said. "She did everything else after, and that was the important thing."
Alexe Gilles of the Broadmoor Skating Club in Colorado Springs had a strong and spirited performance to win the gold, coming from second place after the short program to overtake Angela Maxwell of the Dallas Figure Skating Club.
Olson completed four triple jumps and got extra credit for a three-jump combination late in her program. She scored an 83.65 to give her a total score of 130.21 for the competition.
"It was a decent program, and I felt pretty good," Olson said. "It's nationals, and you just have to tough it out. You don't want to wake up tomorrow and go, 'I wish I would have just fought a little bit harder.' "
She skated off the ice to raucous applause from the hometown crowd and was met at the rink's edge with a long hug from Ward.
"We talk about heart," Ward said. "And that's what she had today."
Gilles' title was the third for her club in five competitions.
"It's a good feeling to be a champion," Gilles said. "I told myself if I can do my program clean, like I knew I could do it, then I could do it and I will do it, and I did it."
Maxwell hung on through a slightly rocky program to finish second. She turned her second double axel into a single but did not have any major deductions.
"My levels were pretty good and I had a couple little stumbles, but I recovered so that was good," Maxwell said.
Brittney Rizo of the Skating Club of Boston took the bronze, and Kristine Musademba of Washington Figure Skating Club finished fourth.
The top three finishers all said they would move up to the senior division next season.