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Oceanside's Samantha Cesario 11th after short program

Samantha Cesario of Oceanside skates during the women's

Samantha Cesario of Oceanside skates during the women's short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. (Jan. 9, 2014) Credit: AP

BOSTON -- The first night of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships senior ladies event did not go quite as planned for Oceanside's Samantha Cesario.

A few mistakes during her short program left the 20-year- old with a score of 54.88, which has her in 11th place at this weekend's Olympic selection event at Boston's TD Garden.

Skaters' aches and pains were an obstacle with which Cesario struggled. "My feet were cramping a bit today," she said. "I got a little tight."

Her sassy short program to an instrumental version of the classic "Fever" started strongly, but she got into trouble on her opening element, a triple loop-triple loop combination. She doubled the second loop and was downgraded in her score by a 10th of a point.

Cesario hung on for her next jump, a triple flip, though her free foot was a little low on the landing.

"My jumps felt a little tight on the end of them," Cesario said. "I had been doing them well in practice."

The panel of judges deducted Cesario's layback spin. She did land her double Axel securely and leaped into a steady step sequence that took her around the ice while shimmying to the jazzy music.

Cesario's closing combination spin ended with a blindingly fast scratch spin.

Cesario's program was one of the most mature of a night filled with young teenagers skating to balletic music. Her personality shined throughout, even when the going was rough. "Overall, I thought my performance quality was pretty good," she said.

Cesario is focused on showing her potential Saturday night. She will skate 10th in the long program, hoping that U.S. Figure Skating's international selection committee looks upon her body of work when making world competition team choices.

"My long program has been good all season," Cesario said. "I will focus on that moving forward."

Gracie Gold won the short program with a score of 72.12. Polina Edmunds (66.75) was second, Mirai Nagasu (65.44) was third and two-time defending champion Ashley Wagner (64.71) was fourth. The top three finishers qualify for next month's Sochi Olympics.

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