By SONJA CHEN
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Ilia Malinin won his first national men’s title on Sunday, delivering a 177.38 free skate for a total score of 287.74 on the final day of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Malinin landed three quadruple jumps and retained his 10-point lead over second-place finisher Jason Brown. Andrew Torgashev topped a strong weekend with a bronze medal, recording the highest segment score of the event with 177.78.
But Malinin gold-medal free skate was not without flaws. He did doubles on two planned quads midway through his program, then recovered with a triple lutz-triple axel-triple toe loop sequence for his final jumping pass. He also fell on his signature quad axel; he is the only skater in history to cleanly land the 4 1/2-revolution jump in competition.
“It’s hard to be a pioneer,” said Olympic champion Brian Boitano, who was the first U.S. skater to land a triple axel. “When there’s nobody else doing it, it’s a really hard situation. You have to push yourself.”
Brown’s 177.06 in the free skate gave him the silver medal. The 28-year-old veteran, who performed a routine to Josh Groban’s “The Impossible Dream,” had not competed since finishing sixth at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Going up against a slate of competitors with superior technical content, Brown needed to be all but perfect — and he got close. Opting not to attempt a quad, Brown was clean up until his final jump — a triple flip — but recovered with his trademark poise and earned a raucous ovation.
Torgashev opened his program with a quad toe loop and saved his three combinations and sequences for last, taking advantage of the second-half scoring bonus.
Joining Torgashev as a first-timer on a national podium was Maxim Naumov, who finished in fourth place. Though he fell on an early triple axel, he skated clean the rest of the way for a 171.43 score.
Malinin joins 15-year-old Isabeau Levito as a first-time national champion, representing potentially the dawn of a new era in U.S. singles skating.
The youth movement hasn’t entirely taken over the sport, though, as ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates and pairs duo Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier became the first skaters in their 30s to win their respective disciplines at nationals in more than 50 years.
AP Sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.