Gracie Gold has taken her first official step towards Sochi, and she did so convincingly.
The 18-year-old smoked the competition at Thursday's U.S. figure skating nationals, easily winning the short program with a career-best score of 72.12.
''I was able to skate the way I trained. I'm so glad I was able to breathe and bend my knees. I just trusted my training.''
The top three finishers will qualify for the Olympics next month. The long program, which Gold dominated a year ago, will take place Saturday.
Also of note: 2013 U.S. junior champion Polina Edmunds, 15, currently sits in second place.