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And the new U.S. women's figure skating champion is...

January 24, 2009 |  9:02 pm

Czisny_300CLEVELAND -- Alissa Czisny wanted the moment to be perfect when she took the ice with the U.S. women's figure skating title on the line Saturday night.

Instead, it turned out to be perfectly adequate.

Czisny, of Bowling Green, Ohio, fell on a planned triple lutz and landed only three clean triple jumps in her long program. But the lead she had built in the short program proved to be enough for her to win with 178.06 points, with Rachael Flatt of Del Mar second at 173.78.

Defending champion Mirai Nagasu of Arcadia had a better performance in her free skate than in her short program but could pull up only one spot, to fifth. Caroline Zhang of Irvine was third, at 171.08 points.

The top two women qualified for the world championships, to be held at Staples Center in March. U.S. Figure Skating officials were to verify that later Saturday night.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Alissa Czisny braces for her landing during a jump in her free skate on Saturday during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Cleveland. Credit: Tony Dejak / Associated Press