Lipinski cited her own experience, finishing third at U.S. Championship at age 13 to quality for the World Championships, which she won the following year.
“Everyone tries to predict what’s going to happen, but every skater’s career is so different,” notes Lipinski, 30. “Things can happen with luck and chance and timing. Having that third spot might give someone we don’t even know her career.”
David Raith, executive director of U.S. Figure Skating, concedes that sending three athletes to the upcoming Sochi Games in each discipline would be ideal. But Raith insists that three Olympic spots isn’t the “end all,” suggesting that too much is being made of it as a measure of U.S. Figure Skating’s success.
“Only one can be on the top of the podium; you can’t have three on the top of the podium,” Raith notes.
But Audrey Weisiger, who coached two-time world bronze medalist Michael Weiss, finds the loss of that third spot discouraging.
“It offers more opportunity for skaters in this country,” said Weisiger, based at the Fairfax Ice Arena. “We have thousands and thousands of skaters, and they get weeded out.”
Regaining a third Olympic spot would also elevate the visibility of U.S. figure skating, Weisiger believes, and inspire more youngsters to try the sport, strengthening the pipeline for future Olympians in the process.
“It’s helpful when our skaters are regarded as bring the best in the world,” Weisiger said. “In any sport, if you can show some global dominance and power, then there is a pride.”
Skating note: Russia’s Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov won gold in pairs; Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy took silver, and Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford took bronze. Americans Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim finished ninth, and Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir were 13th.