Being in first place after Tuesday's compulsory dances at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships felt infinitely better to Naomi Lang than the alternative: being off her feet.
Doctors initially attributed the pain in her left foot to tendinitis and recommended a cast, leading Lang and partner Peter Tchernyshev to withdraw from the Grand Prix series. Tests found a cyst on her Achilles' tendon that will eventually need surgery, and she was cleared to compete for a fifth consecutive ice dance title.
Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto are second, followed by Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov. The compulsory dances are worth 30% of the final score. Today's original dance is worth 20%. The free dance finale is Friday.
Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes, recovered from a leg injury, said she focused intently on training since she was second and third in two competitions last month. The women's event begins Thursday and ends Saturday.
"It felt really good to get back to a schedule and know where I'd be instead of traveling so much and doing things not connected to my skating," she said. "I feel a lot more prepared now than I was then."
-- Helene Elliott