January 21, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Teenager Polina Edmunds holds a large lead at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships after former winners Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold made major mistakes in their short programs.

The 17-year-old Edmunds, a 2014 Olympian, skated cleanly Thursday to score 70.19 points as she seeks her first national title. Gold is second with 62.50 points after she did just one rotation on a planned triple lutz and nearly crashed into the wall on an attempted triple-triple combination, settling for a double toe loop on the second jump.

Tyler Pierce, also 17, is third with 62.45 points. Wagner, a three-time U.S. champion, is fourth with 62.41 after falling on her triple-triple combination.

Edmunds was second to Gold in 2014 to earn an Olympic berth at age 15. She was fourth last year. Skating to Beethoven's ''Moonlight Sonata'' on Thursday, she smoothly landed her triple lutz-triple toe loop combination to open the program.

Despite receiving zero points for her single lutz, Gold still finished slightly ahead of Wagner because her spins were judged at a higher level.

Wagner wasn't upset at her performance and believes she can earn enough points in her long program to overtake Edmunds. Gold, though, struggled to find the words to describe what happened, declaring herself ''flummoxed'' by the mistakes.

Pierce finished seventh last year at her first U.S. Championship at the senior level. She landed three triple jumps but had less difficulty than Edmunds in her program.

Earlier, Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea took the lead in the pairs competition with a short program that's barely a month old.

Thursday was the first time they'd performed to ''Take Me to Church,'' and they had the only clean program among the contenders on a day full of falls and flubs.

Kayne and O'Shea, who finished third last year to miss out on a trip to the world championships, skated last and scored 69.61 points. The defending champs, Alexa Scimeca and Christopher Knierim, were second with 67.35 points after Knierim tumbled on their side-by-side triple salchows.

Marissa Castelli, who won two national titles with former partner Simon Shnapir, is in third with Mervin Tran at 64.12 points after she doubled their side-by-side triple salchows.

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