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DemocratandChronicle .com Saturday,October24,2015 Page11D OLYMPIC SPORTS American ﬁgure skater Gracie Gold is facing a familiar problem. She ﬁnished just o the podium in the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the last two world championships. It’s her goal this season to break through and win a medal at worlds, but she again will face ﬁerce competition from the loaded Russian and Japanese teams. She starts her quest this weekend at Skate America in Milwaukee, her ﬁrst stop in skating’s Grand Prix. Gold will take on Julia Lipnitskaya, who was a key part of Russia’s team gold in Sochi, and 2015 junior world champion Evgenia Medvedeva, also from Russia. “Anytime you go to a high level competition, of course there are going to be great skaters there. I just assume that everyone is going to be amazing and skate perfectly, and I train to skate my best,” Gold said. Gold’s season already has gotten o to a rough start, as she fell o n her opening combination and t ook last place in the Japan Open t his month. “ I kind of choked. I got nervous and didn’t rely on all of my training and hard work,” Gold said. “I f roze. I wanted to skate so well and show everyone how hard I had been working and everything that I ended up tripping over my own feet.” The key for Gold is a new free skate set to Firebird , familiar skating music she says she connects with much more than her long program set to Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again from Phantom of the Opera last season. “Last year I felt like my program didn’t ﬁt me and it wasn’t good for me. I didn’t really relate to it. I couldn’t connect to it. I feel like this program is really full of energy and full of life. I can perform it, and I want to perform it,” she said. Gold also will compete with fellow American Karen Chen, who took bronze at the U.S. nationals last season in her ﬁrst season as senior. At 16, Chen is l ooking to build her experience. O n the men’s side, reigning U.S. champion Jason Brown is hoping to add more than a successful quad jump to his performances. Brown’s skates have been fun and crowd-pleasing but showed o his youth. Now, with the Olympics and world championships under his belt, Brown wants to display more maturity on the ice. “For me, the maturity is related to con ﬁ dence. Related to that I o wn what I’m doing. I’m here, a nd I’m going to rock whatever I’m doing, and staying conﬁdent in that,” Brown said. B rown landed a quad in the N epela Trophy in September. He will need the jump to beat Skate America competitors DenisTen, K azakhstan’s Olympic bronze m edalist, and Japanese up-and- comer ShomaUno. In pairs, American champions Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim will compete against Russian Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov. American ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates will look to build on their most successful season yet, which included a silver medal in the world champi- o nships. PROGRAM INSPIRES GOLD U.S. skater eager to put earlier s truggles in past Maggie Hendricks @maggiehendricks USA TODAY Sports EVAN PIKE, USA TODAY SPORTS At Skate America in Milwaukee this weekend, Gracie Goldwill compete against loaded Russian and Japanese teams. “I feel like this program is really full of energy and full of life. I can perform it, and I want to perform it.” U.S. skater Gracie Gold ,on her new free skate set to Firebird PASADENA , CALIF . We will never see this UCLA team the way it was supposed to be, which is to say in this year of crazy parity across college football that it d oesn’t take a lot of mental gymnastics to have envisioned fresh- m an Josh Rosen leading the B ruins — the healthy version — to anational title or something close to it. But the Rosen One has been c hosen for a di erent task, and it became all the more obvious in UCLA’s 40-24 victory Thursday against No. 19 California. As Bruins starters continue to go down and the resolve of those who remain gets tested, more and more has been heaped onto their 18- year old freshman. It turns out that for all of UCLA’s problems and concerns, Rosen still gives the Bruins an opportunity to believe this season could be special after all. “We lose our starting runner and our starting right tackle, and to come out and play like we did on o ense I was really impressed,” coach Jim Mora said. “ Like all great performers, they’re able to let go of what just happened and move to the next event. He’s been able to do that throughout, and we saw it in spring ball, in summer camp. He’s just a rare kid.” On a night when Rosen threw for 399 yards, completed a school-record 34 passes and out- played a presumptive ﬁrst-round draft pick in Cal’s Jared Go , there was, of course, more bad news for UCLA. Running back Paul Perkins, who led the Pac-12 in rushing yards last year, went down in the second quarter with a knee injury. Receiver Devin Fuller and linebacker IsaakoSavaiinaeaalso were injured. When asked about all three, Mora o ered a short and repetitive diagnosis: “They’re not good. They’re not good.” This comes on the heels of losing three defensive starters, inc luding great linebacker Myles Jack, who already has turned pro; t heir best defensive lineman in E ddie Vanderdoes; and corner- back FabianMoreau. Oh, and linebacker Deon Hollins didn’t play Thursday because of a knee i njury. “I don’t think people really understand how hard it is to win a game, especially when you’re facing some of the adversity we’ve faced,” Mora said. Which makes it all the more impressive, in some ways, that UCLA is 5-2 and should very well be 8-2 by the time it goes to Utah in a month. When the season began, the formula for a UCLA run at the title was pairing its defensive experience and a running game built around Perkins with the talent of Rosen, who would undoubtedly play like a freshman at times. But that plan is out the wind ow, and this is now the Rosen show — for better or worse. “He played his butt o tonight and made the right reads and the right throws,” cornerback Jaleel Wadoodsaid. “Day by day he keeps maturing, and if he does make the wrong read or the wrong throw he just shakes it o a nd comes back and does his job, w hich I respect so much.” To Rosen’s credit, he does not seem prone to self-congratulation or hyperbole. He said Saturday’s win pleased him every bit as much as the BYU game in mid- September when he threw for 106 yards had three interceptions. But it was also a step forward after two pretty horriﬁc losses for UCLA following a 4-0 start that m ade everybody forget how much the injuries were going to be their undoing. “They were pressing me to step up and not be a freshman,” Rosen said. “Stanford and (Arizona State), they put a lot of pressure on me, and I didn’t come up as big as I would have liked to. I think we showed today we can h andle anything that comes to us.” And he’ll have to keep doing it because Rosen will determine whether UCLA can ﬁnish 9-3 or maybe even 10-2 and end up in the Pac-12 title game. At this point, there is no other option. “He’s phenomenal,” receiver Thomas Duarte said. “He’s just a guy who gets better every week. H e’s in the ﬁlm room, he’s in meetings, he ﬁxes his mistakes. He’s made it a point where every week he’s getting better and doing something di erent and taking control of the o ense like we want him to.” Rosen has all the throws, but he’s also going to be prone to mistakes. C alifornia didn’t make him pay for any of them Thursday, but from here on out we are going to see the raw footage of an anointed superstar still trying to ﬁnd his way in the glare of a team that needs him to be great. UCLA is a shell of itself thanks to the injuries. But that also means more and more responsibility for this season will go to R osen. It might not be such a bad thing. “He plays the next play,” Duarte said. “Whatever happened in the last play, it doesn’t matter to him, because he wants to win. He wants to play the next play and dominate, and that’s what we love about him.” COLLEGE FOOTBALL UCLA still has shot with Rosen under center QB keeps hobbled Bruins contending in tough Pac-12 Dan Wolken @DanWolken USA TODAY Sports SEAN M. HAFFEY, GETTY IMAGES Against No. 19 California, UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen was 34-for-47 and 399 yards and three touchdowns in the Bruins’ 40-24 win Thursday.