GREENSBORO, N.C. - Gracie Gold practiced making eye contact with the audience. She did so many spins it drove me nuts.What the reigning U.S. figure skating champion couldnt do for nearly all of December was jump. Shes now had 3 1/2 weeks to work on her triples to try to defend her title when nationals open Thursday.I still feel almost as if Id been training the whole time, Gold said Wednesday.Gold and Ashley Wagner were the only Americans to qualify individually for the Grand Prix Final. Gold had to pull out because of a stress fracture in her left foot, while Wagner went on to win bronze.Wagner will be seeking her third U.S. title, winning two straight before Gold broke through last year. So both know they can thrive on the national stage. This weeks competition is also a chance to show they can put together the kind of program to win a medal at the world championships. No American woman has accomplished that feat since Kimmie Meissner won gold and Sasha Cohen took bronze in 2006.Before last years U.S. Championships, Wagner, now 23, figured the 2014 Games would be her last chance for an Olympic medal. In Sochi, she decided shed progressed so much in six months with coach Rafael Arutyunyan that she wanted to see what they could achieve together in four more years.A win this week to open the cycle before the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, Wagner said, would mean starting in the right direction to the Olympic podium.Wagner was seventh in Sochi. Her solid performances were redemption for last years nationals, where she fell twice in her free skate to finish a distant fourth, earning one of the three Olympic spots based on her previous successes.Polina Edmunds was ninth in Sochi at age 15, competing in her first international competition at the senior level.Gold, now 19, was fourth, though well out of the bronze position. She thinks she initially dislocated a bone in her foot during off-ice training this fall — an injury thats common among runners but not figure skaters — which led to the stress fracture. So Gold isnt allowed to run right now, but she can cleanly land a triple lutz-triple toe loop combination. Gold has needed to limit the number of triple toes she attempts in practice, but otherwise shes been pleasantly surprised at how quickly her jumps came back.Now shell try to land them in competition starting with Thursdays short program at the Greensboro Coliseum, best known for hosting college basketball during the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. The pairs short program is earlier Thursday, with the competition wide open after two-time defending champs Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir split in the spring.In ice dancing, which opens Friday, Olympic gold medallists Meryl Davis and Charlie White are taking a break, leaving Madison Chock and Evan Bates as the favourites.The mens short program follows later Friday. Jeremy Abbott won his fourth U.S. title a year ago at what was supposed to be his last nationals before retirement. Then he rethought those plans, still seeking to match his success at U.S. Championships at a major international event. The 29-year-old Abbotts father, who suffered from Parkinsons disease, died earlier this month.Jason Brown joined Abbott as the two American men on the 2014 Olympic team. Brown, who turned 20 last month, still isnt ready to add a quad, which is all but a prerequisite to win major international medals. For the first time, Brown doesnt come into nationals as an underdog.His frenetic Riverdance long program that went viral after last years U.S. Championships has been replaced by a more sombre piece, a chance to challenge himself in a new way.Max Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champ, is back, while big-jumping 15-year-old Nathan Chen will be competing at his first senior nationals.They could all be chasing Brown, who can find a positive spin for practically anything, including the pressure of his sudden status as the favourite.Dont come in and think I have to be any different than I was the year before, he said of the advice hes received. Just being myself through thick and thin, through the good and the bad, being that genuine same person that I am no matter what success I have. Austin Seibert Jersey . -- The Jacksonville Jaguars are bringing back quarterback Chad Henne -- and making him the starter. Cleveland Browns Jerseys . 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Custom Cleveland Browns Jerseys .com) - Oregon wasnt going to let Arizona ruin its national title dreams for a second straight season.KAMLOOPS, B.C. -- It was a game neither skip wanted to play, but a series of missed shots by Quebec gift-wrapped the bronze-medal match for Manitoba Sunday at the Canadian mens curling championship. Manitobas Jeff Stoughton won 9-5 in nine ends after scoring two in the first and stealing two in the second on a missed Quebec runback at the Tim Hortons Brier. He stole another in the third on a gentle Quebec hit that overcurled and two more in the fourth on Jean-Michel Menards tap-back attempt that barely brushed Manitobas stones. It put Manitoba up 7-0 going into five. Menard drew for one finally in five and raised his arm in a good-natured salute to the applause of the half-filled arena. He let alternate Pierre Charette skip eight and he stole two to keep the game going when Stoughton missed a hit for one. Manitoba also put alternate Garth Smith in at lead. Neither skip was up for the game and both suggested it shouldnt even be part of the Brier. "I was personally totally mentally exhausted," said Menard. "Playing two back-to-back games, having only five hours sleep because of the time change . . .We werent really focused, expecially me, and it cost us early in a few ends." Stoughton minimized the win andd said they werent really focused either.dddddddddddd "We got lucky in the first end. If he makes his shot they probably steal two and they win the game," he said. "Its a disappointing game to play because youre not going to win the Brier. Its a game that Quebec and Manitoba didnt want to play. Its not a game that anyone wants to play." Menard agreed. "Ill try to be nice, but this game shouldnt exist, its useless," he said. Stoughton said the winner of the 3-4 playoff game should decide the bronze medal. That would have seen Quebec take it, since they beat Manitoba to qualify for the semifinal. Menards five-game winning streak overcame his weak 3-4 start at the Brier to get him into fourth spot and the playoffs. He then defeated Stoughton 7-6 Saturday as missed shots allowed Quebec to steal two for a three-point lead in their playoff game. But he lost 9-8 in the semifinal later Saturday to Alberta and Kevin Koe, who plays John Morris and British Columbia Sunday evening for the championship. Stoughton finished in a three-way tie for the lead at the Brier at 9-2 but the way the tiebreaking formula was applied and pushed him out of the 1-2 playoff game, which B.C. took over Alberta. ' ' '