Meissner in sixth

Kimmie Meissner performs in the short program at Skate America. "It's not a big deal to me," Meissner said of falling attempting a triple flip. "I know I can fix it."
Kimmie Meissner performs in the short program at Skate America. "It's not a big deal to me," Meissner said of falling attempting a triple flip. "I know I can fix it." (Getty Images)
Moments after her first performance of the new Grand Prix season, Kimmie Meissner was already looking forward to her next.

The former world and national champion from Bel Air took a spill on the second element of her short program at Skate America when she rushed the entrance to a triple flip, a jump that gave her problems last season.

"I really thought I had it, and [the coaches] said, 'No, you were going to go down anyway,'" Meissner said. "It's not a big deal to me. I know I can fix it. I'm really excited about everything else."

Meissner received a score of 54.90, putting her in sixth place, 14.60points behind leader Yu-Na Kim of South Korea, a two-time world bronze medalist. Former world champion Miki Ando of Japan is second (57.80) and countrywoman Yukari Nakano is third (57.46). Ando fell on a step sequence late in her program, and Kim put her hand down to steady herself after a shaky double axel.

Meissner's teammate, Mirai Nagasu, 15, the U.S. champion, is in fourth place (56.42). Rachael Flatt, 16, the junior world champ, is in fifth place with a score of 54.92, despite committing only a minor mistake on the second jump of a triple-jump combination.

"Every thing counts, every edge," explained Scott Hamilton, 1984 Olympic champion and NBC analyst. "The judges have super slo-mo. It's a very punishing system."

The free skate is live on channels 11 and 4 today at 4p.m.

"I'm going to come out with a vengeance for that triple flip," Meissner vowed. "I feel like tonight I got a really good solid start with my short, so I want to do the same with my long, also."

The event has been good for Meissner, who turned 19 this month. She was runner-up in 2006 in Hartford, Conn., and took the gold medal last year in Reading, Pa.

But the rest of the season was a lost cause. She finished last at the Grand Prix Final in December and lost her U.S. title in January when she fell three times and finished seventh. She also finished seventh at worlds in March.

Regrouping for this season, Meissner changed coaches and training sites, leaving Pam Gregory and the University of Delaware for Richard Callaghan, a veteran of more than three decades, and six-time national champion Todd Eldredge at Incredible Ice in Coral Springs, Fla.

Earlier in the day, U.S. pairs champions Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker won the silver medal by staying upright and focused when those ranked above them stumbled and fell.

Performing to "West Side Story," the two completed a vibrant free skate that brought a roar from the crowd and a score of 115.67 points for a combined total with their short program score of 172.69.

In the fourth element of their routine, the Americans couldn't land their triple toe loops cleanly. McLaughlin stepped out of her landing and the judges downgraded the jump to a double. Still, McLaughlin and Brubaker said they were pleased.

"The crowd was behind us, and we fought through the program," McLaughlin said, smiling broadly.

They were helped by Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov, the Russian couple that dropped from first place to third after a mistake-riddled routine that included three falls. They had a final score of 167.67.

"We've been working on our programs, but they're still kind of raw. You could see that," Mukhortova explained through a translator.

But McLaughlin and Brubaker could not topple Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany, the world champions, who rose from second place after the short program to win gold with a total score of 180.77.

In ice dancing, the top three positions didn't change yesterday after the original dance competition, the second of three components.

Five-time U.S champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto remain in second place, 1.65 points behind reigning world champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France, who lead with a total score of 96.75. Sinead and John Kerr of Great Britain are in third with a score of 92.11.

The ice dance competition will conclude today with the free dance.

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