BOSTON - It looked as if Gracie Gold was on the verge of ending the U.S. ladies' world championships medal drought with a whimper.
And then Ashley Wagner did it with a bang at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships, using the intense emotion of her competitive nature to create fireworks in a free skate that rocked a roaring sellout crowd at TD Garden and brought her a silver medal.
It was the first world medal for a U.S. ladies competitor since 2006, when Kimmie Meissner won gold and Sasha Cohen took bronze. The U.S. men have been without a medal since 2009.
Wagner is a 24-year-old who keeps joking about how she is an old lady in the sport. After all, the young woman who beat her with a subtly stirring and record-breaking free skate, Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia, is only 16, and the bronze medalist, Anna Pogorilaya of Russia, just 18.
What Wagner brings at her seemingly advanced age is a performance maturity and an unflagging desire to overcome the many ups and downs of a career that included a worlds debut way back in 2008. The three-time U.S. champion had called herself the "almost" girl, but now that sobriquet can be dispensed with forever.