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Flatt wins, Hughes 9th in figure skating nationals

SPOKANE, Wash. - Sasha Cohen's comeback appears to be over while the adventure is just beginning for Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu.

Flatt won her first title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships last night, overpowering the rest of the field with a program that will stack up technically with anyone in the world. She scored 200.11 points, finishing more than 10 points ahead of the entertaining and energetic Nagasu. The Olympic team was to be named later, but it's not likely the selection committee will stray from the 1-2 finishers.

Meanwhile, Emily Hughes' bid for a return to the Olympics fell short in the ladies free skate. The Great Neck native who finished seventh four years ago at Turin, Italy, fell twice during her routine and totaled 140.60 points. She finished ninth. Hughes opened her routine with a double Axel, and followed with a triple-flip, double-toe combination. But she fell on a triple Salchow attempt and then on a triple flip. But the crowd seemed appreciative of the effort and she finished strong.

Oceanside's Samantha Cesario also competed in the free skate, and finished with 119.20 points for 14th place.

Cohen, meanwhile, will be left to wonder "what if?" The Olympic silver medalist was skating in her first competition since the 2006 worlds, and her eight-month comeback was beset by challenges, from injuries to equipment problems. But what cost her in the end was her own inconsistency.

As beautiful to watch as Cohen is, the knock has always been her ability - or lack thereof - to deliver when it matters most. She has never done clean short and long programs in the same major competition, and that dubious streak continued. She wound up a distant fourth.

Earlier last night, 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.

Their score of 222.29 was almost four points ahead of Belbin and Agosto.

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