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Wagner leads US one-two at Skate America

LOS ANGELES -- Ashley Wagner wrapped up a triumphant Skate America debut Sunday as she led a U.S. one-two finish in the ladies' competition Sunday at the first Grand Prix of the season at Kent, Washington.

Wagner, who led after Saturday's short program, also topped the final free skate to win with a total of 188.37 points.

American Christina Gao delivered a delightful free skate to move into second with a total of 174.25 points, while Russia's Adelina Sotnikova, who was lying second after the short program, fell in her free skate and settled for third with 168.96 points.

“After the short program, I definitely felt it was plausible to win the whole event,” said Wagner, whose fourth-place finish at the world championships in March was the best finish by an American woman since 2007.

Wagner opened her program with a triple-double combination and her final jump was a triple flip.

“I really fought through one of those jumps, but I'm really pleased with what I put out,” Wagner said. “One of the things I learned from (coach) John Nicks is you can't just give away jumps.

“You have to fight for every single thing. It's having the confidence that even if something is a little bit off, you can have the speed to get out of it and land it.”

Wagner skated after Gao, clad in fiery red, had wowed the crowd with her routine to “Libertango.”

“It's kind of what I've been doing in practice every day. That's what I've been telling myself — just make it like practice — and I did,” Gao said.

The always elegant Meryl Davis and Charlie White made it an all-American celebration as they won their third straight Skate America ice dance title.

Skating to music from “Notre Dame de Paris,” Davis and White had a total of 176.28 points.

“We had a couple little technical glitches here and there,” Davis said. “Overall, it was a good start to the season.”

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia were second and Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were third.

The event was the first of six stops on the Grand Prix tour in a season that has skaters already looking ahead to the 2014 Olympics. The Grand Prix final will be held in December in Sochi, Russia, host city in 2014 Winter Games.

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Gold medal winner Ashley Wagner, right, and silver medal winner Christina Gao stand on the podium following the ladies free event in the Skate America figure skating competition in Kent, Washington, Sunday, Oct. 21. (AP)

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