Gracie Gold shines brightest amidst glittering skates at worlds

BOSTON - Much has been made of the U.S. ladies' nine-season medal drought at the World Figure Skating Championships. But it also had been five seasons since a U.S. skater even won one of the small medals given to the top three after the short program.

So Gracie Gold ending the second of those fruitless stretches was an achievement of no small significance. That she did it by finishing first Thursday afternoon at TD Garden when the skating quality was higher and deeper than it has ever been at a world championships was of even greater consequence.

"I can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel that, maybe, the drought is ending," Gold said.

She and teammate Ashley Wagner, who sits fourth after a career-best score, now have four minutes of Saturday's free skate to show that the light is not coming from the oncoming train that has derailed U.S. hopes since Kimmie Meissner and Sasha Cohen finished first and third, respectively, in 2006.

The way both skated Thursday -- and the scores each received in a competition that was as good as it gets -- makes it seem likely this will be the year that almost anything can happen, even if the standings are so close from first to sixth.