Three falls, one question: What's wrong with US women's figure skating?

GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Bradie Tennell fell. Mirai Nagasu fell. Karen Chen had to put her hand down on the ice to stop herself from falling.

Three American skaters. Three errors they likely won’t be able to recover from here at the Olympics short program Wednesday.

“I’m mad,” said Nagasu, who is ninth place. “I’m upset.”

“I am not going to lie, I am pretty disappointed in myself,” said Chen, who is in 10th.

“We’re all human,” said Tennell, who is in 11th. “We make mistakes.”

9 PHOTOS
American figure skater Mirai Nagasu
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American figure skater Mirai Nagasu
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. in action. REUTERS/John Sibley
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. in action. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. in action. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
GANGNEUNG, Pyeongchang- FEBRUARY 11 - Mirai Nagasu of the United States celebrates after jumping a triple axel in her routine as she performs in the Ladies free skate in the team competition at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics Figure Skating competition at the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in Gangneung in Pyeongchang in South Korea. February 11, 2018. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, Pyeongchang- FEBRUARY 11 - Mirai Nagasu of the United States celebrates after jumping a triple axel in her routine as she performs in the Ladies free skate in the team competition at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics Figure Skating competition at the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in Gangneung in Pyeongchang in South Korea. February 11, 2018. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. reacts. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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The United States hasn’t won a medal in ladies’ figure skating since 2006, when Sasha Cohen took silver. Barring a miraculous comeback, that streak will extend to 2022 in Beijing. It’s a major fall from grace for U.S. Figure Skating, which was once an international powerhouse.

From 1952 in Oslo through 2006 in Turin, the Americans won 19 of a possible 45 medals, including seven golds. That included iconic talents – Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi, Nancy Kerrigan, Tara Lipinski, Michelle Kwan, Debi Thomas and so on. Every four years there were contenders, often multiple ones, the competition so fierce skaters were having each other’s knees clubbed.

There is no simple answer to what happened, just as there is no easy fix. What’s clear is the rest of the world has pushed forward in recent years, notably the Russians, Japanese and even the Canadians. Better athletes? Better training? Better systems and strategies?

It’s all of that.

In the micro, Wednesday can be brushed aside as just an unfortunate coincidence, all three American competitors failing to hit their first jump. The micro keeps happening, though, every four years. It’s not like the U.S. is dominating at any other point. From 1996-2006, the US won 15 medals, including seven golds at the annual world championships. In the 11 years since, the Americans have taken just one, a 2016 silver by Ashley Wagner.

24 PHOTOS
The best figure skating faces from the Winter Olympics
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The best figure skating faces from the Winter Olympics
China's Yan Han competes in the figure skating team event men's single skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
USA's Mirai Nagasu competes in the figure skating team event women's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's Mikhail Kolyada grimaces as he rotates while competing in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Evgenia Medvedeva, an Olympic athlete from Russia, competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. in action. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
USA's Adam Rippon competes in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Nicole Schott of Germany competes. REUTERS/John Sibley
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Bradie Tennell of the U.S. competes. REUTERS/John Sibley
Canada's Meagan Duhamel (R) and Canada's Eric Radford compete in the figure skating team event pair skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Israel's Alexei Bychenko competes in the figure skating team event men's single skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Alina Zagitova, Olympic athlete from Russia, in action. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Kaori Sakamoto of Japan competes in the Ladies Free Skating during the Figure Skating Team Event on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Training ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 8, 2018 - Cha Jun-hwan of South Korea reacts. REUTERS/John Sibley
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Men Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - Shoma Uno of Japan in action. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Men Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - Cha Jun-hwan of South Korea in action. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Russia's Mikhail Kolyada competes in the figure skating team event men's single skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Men Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - Alexei Bychenko of Israel competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Patrick Chan of Canada competes in the Figure Skating Team Event - Men's Single Skating Short Program during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 9, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
China's Yu Xiaoyu and China's Zhang Hao compete in the figure skating team event pair skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Keiji Tanaka of Japan competes in the Figure Skating Team Event ? Men's Single Free Skating on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by XIN LI/Getty Images)
Japan's Keiji Tanaka competes in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Li Xiangning of China competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Pair Free Skating ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert, Olympic athletes from Russia, compete. REUTERS/John Sibley TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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There is talent – Nagasu, for example, is the only competitor here capable of attempting the triple axel. And no one doubts any of their tenacity or dedication. This is the sport, though. This is how it’s judged. And why it’s judged. You either hit the jumps or you don’t. It’s a cruel competition, no margin for error.

“This isn’t what I wanted,” Nagasu said.

“Kind of sad,” Chen said. “I wish we all had nailed it.”

There were some dazed looks in the back halls of the Gangneung Ice Arena. Skaters were frustrated. Coaches were frustrated. U.S. skating officials were frustrated. No one thought this was going to be 1998, when Lipinski and Kwan went gold-silver, but no one wanted to accept that these Olympics were essentially over so quickly.

By the way of the draw, the Americans all skated fairly early on Wednesday. As everyone tried to come up with explanations for the worst short program performance in Team USA history, roars of the crowd swept down the hall from the arena, adding insult to injury as another Russian, Canadian or Japanese skater delivered some bit of magic.

Those three countries own six of the top seven spots.

Some, such as Chen’s coach, Tammy Gambill, think it might be cyclical and points to talent in the junior ranks. Others believe the U.S. was slow to adjust to changes in the International Skating Union’s scoring system, which hurt this generation of skaters when they were developing. At least that has changed, everyone agrees.

“For many, many years our younger champions were winning without any of the skills needed to be elite skaters,” said Tom Zakrajsek, who coaches Nagasu.

There’s the lack of a national training center of excellence, where the best would have to learn to compete, both physically and, perhaps most importantly, mentally against each other. Many other countries have such programs, taking young talent and refining it. But that’s a cultural issue that isn’t easily solved. Almost no one in the United States is shipping off their 10-year-old.

Perhaps the most painful answer is that figure skating doesn’t attract enough talent anymore. For generations, it was the winter sport for a certain type of athlete.

“The X-Games and the introduction of those acrobatic sports in the Olympics have given kids who have that acrobatic tendency to look someplace else to fulfill it, just with a different apparatus,” Zakrajsek said.

37 PHOTOS
Best figure skating outfits at the Olympics
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Best figure skating outfits at the Olympics
Japan's Kana Muramoto and Japan's Chris Reed compete in the ice dance free dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Alina Zagitova of Russia competes in the Ladies Free Skating during the Figure Skating Team Event on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
USA's Adam Rippon performs his routine in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Japan's Chris Reed and Japan's Kana Muramoto compete in the figure skating team event ice dance short dance during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Canada's Gabrielle Daleman competes in the figure skating team event women's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
USA's Mirai Nagasu competes in the figure skating team event women's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova and Russia's Dmitri Soloviev compete in the figure skating team event ice dance free dance during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 11: Satoko Miyahara of Japan competes in the Figure Skating Team Event ? Ladies? Short Program on day two of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 11, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by XIN LI/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 11: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada compete in the Figure Skating Team Event - Ice Dance - Short Dance on day two of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 11, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 11: Evgenia Medvedeva of Olympic Athlete from Russia competes in the Figure Skating Team Event ? Ladies? Short Program on day two of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 11, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by XIN LI/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 11: Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada competes during the Figure Skating- Team Event-Ladies Short Program on day two of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 11, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by XIN LI/Getty Images)
Japan's Miu Suzaki and Japan's Ryuichi Kihara compete in the figure skating team event pair skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva competes in the figure skating team event women's single skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada compete in the Ice Dance Free Dance during the Figure Skating Team Event on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Italy's Carolina Kostner competes in the figure skating team event women's single skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korea's Choi Dabin competes in the figure skating team event women's single skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 11: Mae Berenice Meite of France competes in the Figure Skating Team Event � Ladies� Short Program on day two of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 11, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 11: Xiangning Li of China competes in the Figure Skating Team Event � Ladies� Short Program on day two of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 11, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Israel's Aimee Buchanan competes in the figure skating team event women's single skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - USA's Alex Shibutani and USA's Maia Shibutani compete in the figure skating team event ice dance short dance during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Italy's Anna Cappellini and Italy's Luca Lanotte compete in the figure skating team event ice dance short dance during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 20: Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States compete in the Figure Skating Ice Dance Free Dance on day eleven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 20: Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Olympic Athlete from Russia compete in the Figure Skating Ice Dance Free Dance on day eleven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 20: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada compete during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Free Dance program on day eleven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Short Dance program on day ten of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Canada's Tessa Virtue and Canada's Scott Moir compete in the ice dance free dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 20: Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States compete in the Figure Skating Ice Dance Free Dance on day eleven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
USA's Madison Chock and USA's Evan Bates compete in the ice dance free dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's Tiffani Zagorski and Russia's Jonathan Guerreiro compete in the ice dance free dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
France's Marie-Jade Lauriault competes in the ice dance free dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 20, 2018: Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver seen after performing the free dance during a figure skating event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
Britain's Penny Coomes and Britain's Nicholas Buckland compete in the ice dance free dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 20: Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain compete in the Figure Skating Ice Dance Free Dance on day eleven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Canada's Piper Gilles and Canada's Paul Poirier compete in the ice dance free dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Italy's Charlene Guignard and Italy's Marco Fabbri compete in the ice dance free dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JANUARY 20: Alisa Agafonova and Alper Ucar of Turkey perform in the Ice Dance category of Free Dance segment skating during the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2018 at the Megasport Arena in Moscow, Russia on January 20, 2018. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 20: Kavita Lorenz and Joti Polizoakis of Germany compete in the Figure Skating Ice Dance Free Dance on day eleven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Chloe Kim, figure skating gold medalist? Who knows, it might have been.

There is also USA Gymnastics, where the women’s program has lapped the world as a power. The talent is so deep, the Americans could send a dozen competitors to the Olympics and win medals. If some of those kids chose skating instead, maybe there are better competitors here, or, at the very least, the ones who did make it to PyeongChang would have been pushed harder.

Zakrajsek has two children. When they were younger, they did gymnastics as well as skating. What stuck with him was the difference in the cost of each sport, especially at the youth entry level. You can throw some mats down almost anywhere. Not so with ice, which costs a ton to maintain.

“Gymnastics was peanuts compared to figure skating,” Zakrajsek said. “You start figure skating and it is not as economical as gymnastics. It could be some economic factors entering there.”

It’s all of it. And fixing it isn’t just snapping a finger.

What’s clear is one of the great teams in international sports – USA women’s skating – is no longer a contender, no longer feared, no longer cutting-edge. They have some great skaters with great potential. Each woman is a tremendous story and role model. No one is questioning any of that.

The results are the results, though. They tally up scores and hand out medals for a reason.

The U.S. used to find itself on top. That was then. And then is getting to be a long time ago.

More Olympic coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• South Korean skaters leave teammate in tears
• Worst Olympian? No, Liz Swaney might be the best
• Vonn: I’ll need ‘medical miracle’ for 2022 Games
• Photo shows Gus Kenworthy’s ugly hip injury
• The legend of Chloe Kim continues to grow

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