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Flatt, Nagasu bring Olympic excitement to U.S.

SPOKANE, Wash. - Her Olympic dreams over, Sasha Cohen stuck around to watch Mirai Nagasu and Rachael Flatt.

"They're great," Cohen said. "They're cute, they're excited."

That they most definitely are.

Flatt and Nagasu earned trips to the Olympics with their 1-2 finish at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday night, and the folks in Vancouver should consider themselves warned.

The rest of the world might not know who they are - heck, folks in America will brush up on their bios - and they might not wind up on the medal stand.

But they sure will put on a show. And that's just at the news conferences.

"I'm just excited about all the free stuff we're going to get," the delightfully filterless Nagasu said. "I hope a medal will come, too."

Despite all the wailing about the sad state of the U.S. women these last few years, don't count them out. Flatt entered Kim Yu-na and Mao Asada territory with her final score of 200.11 points, and the high school senior is one of the few people who's beaten Kim in the last two years. Sure, it was in the free skate at Skate America, but she's shown it can be done.

Nagasu has that beautiful performance style that made skaters millionaires in the sport's heyday, and she backs it up with the tough tricks. Best of all, she'll say whatever's on her mind. Think Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal are entertaining? They meet their match with this 5-4 high school junior.

"We need to embrace the challenge, and I'm sure we're both up for it," Flatt said. "We're young and spirited and have lots of enthusiasm, so I think that will bode well for the Olympics."

Earlier Saturday, Meryl Davis and Charlie White won their second straight ice dance title, beating Olympic and world silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto for the first time in their careers. Long overshadowed by Belbin and Agosto - at home and internationally - Davis and White left little doubt they are now equal to their friends and former training partners, as well as the other top teams in the world.

As for Cohen, she wound up a distant fourth.

"It wasn't the skate that I wanted or the skate that I trained for, but I could still really appreciate the challenge I embraced and the obstacles I overcame," Cohen said. "There wasn't any regret or wishing I could do it again. I was just really proud to be back after four years."

And proud to see the next generation grab hold of their opportunity.

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