Ilia Malinin landed the second quadruple Axel in Skate America history and jumped from fourth place to become the youngest male champion in the history of the event.
Malinin, the 17-year-old world junior champion from Virginia, opened his free skate on Saturday by landing the toughest quad jump – the four-and-a-half Axel revolution. He landed five quads in total (one under-rotated) and also landed a triple Salchow.
Last month, he became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated four-turn Axel in competition at a lower-level event.
“This morning, I wasn’t sure if I was going to try or not,” Malinin said on NBC Sports. “It crossed my mind. Everyone is watching. I have to go for it. I went after it and just landed it and was in shock. I mean, the whole building screamed for at least a few seconds after that. I didn’t even know the music was still playing.”
Malinin improved from fourth after Friday’s short program to win his senior Grand Prix debut by 7.18 points over his fellow 17-year-old. Kao Miura of Japan.
Earlier, world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier became the first US pair to win a full-fledged Grand Prix event in 16 years. Knierim and Frazier placed first in both the short program and free skate, totaling 201.39 points to beat the Canadians Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps with 3.5 points.
Knierim and Frazier, competing in the absence of Russia’s top pairs banned because of the war in Ukraine, became the first US pair to win Skate America since 2006 (not counting 2020, when the field was almost entirely American due to travel restrictions caused by the pandemic). ).
Stellato-Dudek, 39, won her first senior Grand Prix medal, 22 years after making her Grand Prix debut as a singles skater. Stellato, who retired from singles skating at age 17 due to hip injuries, returned at age 32 in pairs in 2016.
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American Ice Dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates along with Japan’s Kaori Sakamotothe women’s world champion, took the lead after Saturday’s short programs.
Chock and Bates, who finished fourth at the Beijing Olympics, scored 82.63 points for their rhumba despite a few mistakes in their routine. They struggled through their spin lift and Bates bobbled on the twizzle.
It was still enough to lead fellow Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Bakerthe silver medalist at Skate America two years ago, who scored 79.12 points. Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain le Gac they were third with 72.12 points.
In the women’s event, Sakamoto breezed through a Janet Jackson medley to score 71.72 points, even though the Olympic bronze medalist followed her triple flip with a double loop rather than another triple.
Sakamoto has a slim lead going into Sunday’s free skate over the 15-year-old American Isabel Levito, who scored 71.30 points on her senior Grand Prix debut. The highlight was a big opening triple flip, although she underrotated a triple loop on her triple-triple combination later in the program and that was enough to drop her to second place.
Levito’s teammate, Amber Glennhe was third with 68.42 points.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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