Mirai Nagasu's face lit up when she saw her ranking after the women's free skate.
Fourth place. No medal. Usually a catalyst for tears at the Olympics. But to the 16-year-old American, it might be the foundation for some better finishes in the future.
The U.S. women failed to win a medal for just the second time since 1952 at Thursday night's competition. U.S. champion Rachael Flatt finished seventh.
"I'm just happy I was able to be right behind those top competitors because it's my first really big international competition," Nagasu said.
"Most 16-year-olds medal at their first Olympics," she joked. "I'm sorry that I wasn't able to keep up that U.S. trend. But, hopefully, I'll be able to make up for it when I get to come back I hope for the next Olympics."
Flatt was fifth and Nagasu was sixth coming into the finale. The top three skaters needed to make major mistakes for either one to make off with a medal. Nagasu finished more than 12 points out of a bronze.
The 17-year-old Flatt lost points on both her triple flips when she didn't complete the rotation. She said "they felt just fine to me" and acknowledged she was a bit surprised by her score.
Asked if that made her Olympic experience somewhat less fun, Flatt said, "A little bit."
"I wish that I could've gotten a better score, but you make do and just continue to improve," she said, then added with a laugh, "Got to make sure I fix those flips."
Any benefits from competing in Vancouver might be seen as early as next month, when the world championships are held in Turin, Italy. No U.S. woman has been on the world championship podium since 2006. American women have won seven Olympic gold medals overall, including three of the last five coming into Vancouver. The only other time since 1952 that they didn't medal was 1964, which was three years after the entire U.S. team was killed in a plane crash.
Nagasu noted that this year's gold and silver medalists are both 19 -- only a bit younger than she will be at the 2014 Sochi Games. Kim Yu-na and Mao Asada each came into the Olympics with significant international seasoning.
"At 16 you don't have the experience and the maturity that they skate with," Nagasu said. "Hopefully, by that time I'll be able to get that."