(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

U.S. figure-skating champion Gracie Gold, 18, battled to hang onto her jumps in an ambitious short program Wednesday but stayed upright and stands second, with eight women yet to compete.

Wearing a bright red off-the-shoulder-dress and skating to a Grieg piano concerto, Gold under-rotated the second jump of her opening triple Lutz-triple toe combination but regrouped gamely. She followed with a layback spin and flying camel spin, smiling throughout, but battled again to deliver the triple loop and double axel.

Her score of 68.63 was shy of her personal best.

Gold has made great strides in her consistency and polish since hiring Frank Carroll, coach of 2010 Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek and Michelle Kwan before that. And she appeared to be peaking at the precise moment of her Olympic Games debut, having wrested the U.S. Championship from Ashley Wagner.

With eight skaters yet to compete, defending Olympic champion Kim Yu-Na leads with 74.92 points.

San Jose’s Polina Edmunds, 15, is third (61.04). Wagner will compete 27th.

The American women are being cheered on at the Iceberg Skating Palace by six of their U.S. figure-skating teammates: Jeremy Abbott, Jason Brown, Maia and Alex Shibutani, Marissa Castelli and Madison Chock.

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Photos from Day 12 | Daily TV schedule | U.S. medal winners