Time to push the panic button? Time to buy Kimmie Meissner a gold retirement watch and thank her for her service to figure skating?
Not so fast. Rome, as skating analyst Julius Caesar used to say, wasn't built in a day.
Meissner, who suffered through another poor performance last weekend at Skate America, is a puzzle at this point in her career. Good practices and good warm-ups, but bad when the judges are watching.
That's not the recipe for a championship.
From a resume standpoint, the girl from Bel Air has checked most of the boxes -- Olympic appearance, world title and national championship -- all by the age of 18. Meissner is one of only two U.S. women to land a triple axel, the other being Tonya Harding, she of knee-whacking fame.
But from December 2007 until now, it has been as if Meissner had been kidnapped by aliens and replaced by an exact duplicate, albeit one who prefers another sport. After winning gold and silver during last year's Grand Prix season, she finished last at the Grand Prix Final and seventh at nationals and worlds. The performance at worlds was considered a triumph given the meltdown at nationals.
Changing coaches and training sites, Meissner set out to reclaim her place as one of America's best. But in less than seven minutes of skating, she racked up three falls and finished eighth.
The skater looked bewildered when she met with reporters. Her primary coach, the 36-year veteran Richard Callaghan, was grim-faced.