This year the senior Grand Prix series is being run as domestic events with domestic skaters, or skaters that train in the host country or close to it, being assigned.
Skate America took place on October 23rd and 24th, with no spectators allowed.
Prior to the event, there had already been notable withdrawals from Canada’s Stephen Gogolev, which would have marked his senior international debut, Czech Republic’s Michal Březina, 2019 European silver medalists Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov from Russia, as well as the two-time Four Continents champions and current US national champions, Madison Chock and Evan Bates.
Gogolev and Březina withdrew due to injury. Chock and Bates also suffered an injury during the summer and cited a lack of training and preparation time as their reason. Tarasova and Morozov had travelled back to Russia to compete in the Russian Cup, a qualifying series for Russian nationals in December, however, Morozov contracted COVID-19 which led to a reduced training time and eventually their withdrawal from both of their originally planned events and Skate America. (Tarasova and Morozov will now compete at the 4th and 5th stages of the series).
Due to the absence of a balanced judging panel, no scores will count towards seasons best scores.
Mariah Bell won the event with a total of 212.73. Finishing first after the short program with a score of 76.48, she skated to Glitter in the Air by Pink and executed a double axel, triple flip-triple toeloop combination, and a triple lutz. After using her originally planned pink costume in practice earlier in the day, Bell said it didn’t “feel great” and decided to change to use her free program costume explaining after, “I didn’t have a backup and I just thought, my long program costume sits well, so I’ll just wear that.”
Skating her free program to a Medley of ABBA, Bell finished in fourth with a free score of 136.25 after a fall on her last jumping pass, a triple lutz, which was also downgraded. Her choreographic sequence earned the highest GOE in her program, 2.00. Post skate, she explained “I am walking away from this performance a little bit disappointed, but at the end of the day I can be proud.”
Finishing in second was Bradie Tennell, who earned a total of 211.07. In her short program, set to Moderation by Florence and the Machine, Tennell under-rotated the second jump in her triple lutz-triple toeloop combination which earned a negative GOE however she also executed a double axel and triple flip which earned positive GOE.
Tennell won the free program, with a total of 137.78, skating to Sarajevo by Max Richter and Dawn of Faith by Eternal Eclipse. Out of seven jumping passes she cleanly executed three, both double axels and a triple loop. The second jump in the opening triple lutz-triple toeloop combination was marked as under-rotated and three jumps were marked with a ‘q’ – which is new to the judging system this year a skater lands on the quarter under rotation of their jump (or throw for pairs skating), they will receive the full base value but their GOE will be lowered. In both the short and free, she also received level 4s in all spins and step sequences.
Post skate Tennell, who recently moved from long term coach Denise Myers to Tom Zakrajsek, commented, “I’m really happy with how today’s skate went. I think it was a very good first showing of this program and there is room to grow. I am very excited to continue to work on it and go home training and to improve.”
In third place, and her senior debut was Audrey Shin with a total of 206.15 after placing third in both the short and free skate. Her short, set to The Giving by Michael W. Smith, earned 69.77 with all elements receiving a positive GOE and only a ‘q’ marked on the opening triple lutz-triple toeloop combination. “I had a great time performing at my first senior Grand Prix,” Shin said after the skate. “I was just really excited to get back out there and start competing again.
In the free program Shin, skating to the Modigliani soundtrack by Guy Farley, earned 136.38, and also achieved the highest technical score of 71.18. In her second jumping pass, the toeloop of the double axel-triple toeloop combination was marked as under-rotated and her third pass, a triple salchow, was marked with a ‘q’. All spins in both short and free earned level 4s and all other elements earned positive GOE, including the opening triple lutz-triple toeloop combination.
Karen Chen placed 4th, Amber Glenn 5th, Shan Lin representing China 6th, Paige Rydberg 7th, Starr Andrews 8th, Sierra Venetta 9th, Pooja Kalyan 10th, Finley Hawk 11th and Gracie Gold 12th.
Winning his fourth consecutive Skate America title was Nathan Chen with a total of 299.15.
His short program set to Asturias, Canción del Mariachi earned a total of 111.17. It was skated clean and included a quad toeloop-triple toeloop combination, a quad flip and a triple axel, all of which achieved high GOE. “Speaking of the program, I’m pretty happy with where I am, given the unusual circumstances what is going on,” Chen told media after the skate. “The program itself is new to me and there is still a lot of work and improvement to be done to this sort of style.”
The free skate, performed to a medley of songs by Philip Glass, earned 187.98. Chen executed three quad jumps, two in combination and one in sequence all earning positive GOE, and unfortunately popped a planned quad salchow into a double and a triple axel into a single. “Of course I’m a little disappointed about the jumps that I missed. I should have done that,” he commented post skate, adding, “I’m just thrilled to be here at this competition, so thankful to everyone who has been involved, to bring us together and how smoothly it went so that skaters just could focus on skating.”
Finishing in second was Vincent Zhou, with a total of 275.10. The short program, which was set to Vincent (Starry Starry Night) performed by Josh Groban, executed two quads, one in the opening combination, quad lutz-triple toeloop, and a quad salchow, which was marked with a ‘q’. Zhou, who recently announced his return to former coaches Christy Krall and Tom Zakrajsek said, “I think I did a great job, especially with the components, the projection, the performance. I am proud of what I did tonight. I had some shaky practices, mentally maybe not the best day, but I got it together.”
In the free, skating to Algorithm by Muse and earning a total of 175.47, Zhou only cleanly executed one of three quads which was his second jumping pass, a quad lutz-triple toeloop combination. The opening quad lutz, which ended in a fall, and the quad salchow were both under-rotated. Both step sequences in the short and free earned level 4s however only two spins, one in the short and one in the free, earned level 4s.
In third place, and earning the only medal by an international athlete, was Canada’s Keegan Messing with a total of 266.42.
His short program, set to Perfect by Ed Sheeran, opened with a quad toeloop-triple toeloop combination as well as a clean triple axel and triple lutz, earning 92.40. “I was overall very excited about how my performance went, this being the first time I’ve skated in front of a ‘crowd’ this year,” Keegan said referring to the cardboard cutouts in the stands. “I was very happy to put a clean program out there.”
In the free, performed to November Rain by Guns N’ Roses, cleanly executed both quads, including one in combination. However, in the next jumping pass, which was a triple axel-euler-triple salchow sequence, the euler was marked as a downgrade and the salchow was under-rotated and the last jumping pass, a triple flip received an edge warning and a downgrade.
After the skate, Messing told the media “I had two little bobbles in the program, but this is one of the few times that I’ve actually been able to go out and leave everything I had out on the ice.” Adding, “Going into the long program, right before I stepped into my starting position, I thought this is for you guys, in Canada, to everybody who has to stay home. I am so proud that I was able to come here and have a safe competition and just have the opportunity to compete.”
Tomoki Hiwatashi placed 4th, Ilia Malinin 5th, Alexei Bychenko representing Israel 6th, Alexei Krasnozhon 7th, Maxim Naumov 8th, Camden Pulkinen 9th, Jimmy Ma 10th, Joseph Kang 11th and Daniel Samohin representing Israel placed 12th.
After teaming up earlier this year, Alexa Scimeca Knierim / Brandon Frazier won their first competition together with a total of 214.77. They skated first, and clean, to earn 74.19 in their short program set to In the End and Too Far Gone. “I always like to dream big, but I did not expect to be where we are today so soon,” Scimeca Knierim commented after the skate.
The free skated to Andrea & Matteo Bocelli’s Fall on Me, was almost clean with only a negative GOE received on the side-by-side triple salchow. Both opening triple twists, in the short and free, earned level 3s but high GOE. Two out of three lifts in the free also earned level 4s, the third earned a level 3 and the death spiral a level 2. “We’re very happy with the progress we’ve made this week. We had to make a lot of adjustments since our virtual competition a couple of weeks ago,” Frazier said.
Jessica Calalang / Brian Johnson finished in second place with a total of 207.40 and won their first grand prix medal. The short, performed to Light of the Seven from the Game of Thrones soundtrack, received a score of 71.08 and all elements were clean except the opening planned triple salchow which Calalang fell on after rotating, and Johnson popped into a double.
The free, skated to The Tenors ft. Lindsey Stirling’s cover of Who Wants to Live Forever also wasn’t a clean performance with negative GOE received on both side-by-side jumping passes and the throw triple lutz in the second half of the program. All three lifts, the opening twist and final spin, earned level 4s but the death spiral only earned a level 3.
“We’re a little disappointed about our long (program). We had a couple of mistakes on elements that we know we can do. We go back home and keep on working,” Johnson said after the skate. “Getting this medal for us is a great stepping stone from the points challenge and from the previous season, but we just look forward to continue working and hopefully get a few more,” Calalang added.
Also winning their first grand prix medal was Audrey Lu / Misha Mitrofanov, who narrowly placed in third by 0.42, with a total of 189.65. Following the clean skate to The Show Must Go On from Moulin Rouge!, where three out of five elements also earned level 4s, Mitrofanov said the performance gave them confidence heading into the free skate. Lu also said, “It is surprising for us to be in third place, but we’re super happy. Going into tomorrow, we’re going to stay focused and do what we did today.”
The free skate, performed to a Charlie Chaplin medley, earned positive GOE on all elements except both throw jumps the second of which Lu, unfortunately, fell on the landing of. Their opening twist, and two out of three lifts earned level 4s. The other lift earned a level 3 as well as the final spin, and the death spiral earned a level 2.
After the skate, Mitrofanov told the media, “We are very happy and fortunate with this bronze medal, and we are very proud of ourselves. This definitely gives us a confidence boost.”
Ashley Cain-Gribble / Timothy LeDuc placed 4th, Tarah Kayne / Danny O’Shea 5th, Olivia Serafini / Mervin Tran 6th, Emily Chan / Spencer Howe 7th and Anna Vernikov / Evgeni Krasnopolski representing Israel 8th.
Madison Hubbell / Zachary Donohue won their 3rd Skate America title, with a total of 211.39. Opening the performance with the finnstep pattern, to the Burlesque soundtrack, Hubbell and Donohue received 4 out of 4 key points and level 4s on all other elements except the midline step sequence and Hubbell’s pattern step sequence which only received a level 3. “We certainly took a long time during the summer to make the final decision about what we wanted to do (for the Rhythm Dance)” Hubbell explained about the choice of the new music. “We wanted to take all of the things that we learned from that character and apply it to something that is a little bit more modern, sexy, powerful.”
Their free skated to Hallelujah, opened with a high scoring character step sequence. All elements earned a level 4 except the midline step sequence, the second lift of the combination lift and Hubbell’s one-foot step sequence all received level 3s.
After the skate, she said, “This is a program that Zach and I are very passionate about and we already feel like we have almost a very easy time skating it because every part feels purposeful and there is something about each part that we enjoy.”
Kaitlin Hawayek / Jean-Luc Baker finished in second with a total of 202.47. Their Saturday Night Fever rhythm dance also opened with the finnstep, which also received all 4 key points. All other elements earned level 4 except the midline step which achieved a level 3, as did Baker’s twizzles.
“Honestly, this program is such a joy and so much fun to not only perform but also to train. It doesn’t feel like work when you’re going in, have the run throughs, get the mileage. It was really easy for us to choose to keep it because we love it so much,” Hawayek commented.
Their new free dance, to Heart of Glass by Philip Glass & Blondie and First Movement also by Philip Glass, and achieved level 4s on all elements except for Hawayek’s twizzle which earned a level 3. “One of the things we’ve really worked hard on this year is being able to stay 100% committed to our story and to our focus from the very beginning of the program,” Hawayek said. “I think we felt that was a really big success tonight because we stayed invested every moment and that made it fly by.”
Finishing in third place, and winning their second grand prix medal, was Christina Carreira / Anthony Ponomarenko with a combined score of 185.78. In their Kiss Me Kate rhythm dance, they only achieved 3 out of 4 key points however received level 4s on their midline step, both partners twizzles and rotational lift. “Skating this Rhythm Dance the second year, we really want to show confidence in our skating,” Ponomarenko commented. “We made a big improvement last year in Vegas so we wanted to keep pushing this program to the limit and hopefully do our best at Nationals.”
Their free dance, also new this season to the Doctor Zhivago soundtrack achieved level 4s on all lifts and level 3s on the circular step sequence and one-foot step sequence. “We are a little bit disappointed with how today went. We left a lot of points on the table,” Carreira admitted after the skate. “There are a lot of things we want to improve and change when we get back home to make this program as special as it can be.”
Caroline Green / Michael Parsons placed 4th, Molly Cesanek / Yehor Yehorov 5th, Lorraine McNamara / Anton Spiridonov 6th, Eva Pate / Logan Bye 7th and Emily Monaghan / Ilias Fourati representing Hungary placed 8th.