Two of the best American athletes Nathan Chen and Bradie Tennell led Tara Lipinski’s team to a $50,000 prize at U.S. Figure Skating’s newly created Las Vegas Invitational figure skating competition.
Last month, U.S. Figure Skating announced a brand new event in order to provide their domestic skaters an extra opportunity to compete and earn money, as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has shrunk the regular available opportunities. The Las Vegas Invitational, presented by HomeLight, featured two teams of six skaters – three ladies and three men each – who performed their free skate programs. Teams were split into Tara Lipinski’s team and Johnny Weir’s team, and were captained by the reigning National champions Nathan Chen and Alysa Liu.
The ladies started the event and 19-year-old Starr Andrews was the first to skate. She opened her performance with a triple flip. Solid jumps and a consistent overall performance earned her a total score of 120.70 points for Team Tara. 2017 U.S. National champion Karen Chen began her free skate with a double axel-double toe loop combination. The 21-year-old former Olympian received a score of 122.43 points for Johnny’s team.
Competing at the senior level for her first season, Audrey Shin began her performance with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and then landed a double axel-triple toe loop combination. The 16-year-old who won the bronze medal at last month’s Skate America received a score of 132.65 points for Tara’s team.
Two-time U.S. National champion Alysa Liu opened her free skate with a popped single axel instead of a planned triple. She landed her next triple Lutz and then completed a double axel-double toe loop combination. A double loop, rather than a triple loop, left points on the table. The 15-year-old received a total score of 110.80 points for Team Johnny.
22-year-old Bradie Tennell began her program with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and then a double axel. The 2018 U.S. National champion then landed a triple loop and a triple Salchow. Tennell also landed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and received a total competition score of 140.14 points for Team Tara.
Winner of the opening stage of this season’s ISU Grand Prix series, Mariah Bell hung on to her opening double axel-triple toe loop combination. Skating to music from ABBA, the 24-year-old then landed a triple loop and held on to a triple Salchow attempt. She earned a score of 139.42 points for Team Johnny.
This event used the International Judging System to score the performances, with a slight modification – both the ladies and the men were evaluated using the same components factor of 1.6. Typically, men are scored with a factor of 2.0; therefore, the men’s scores ended up being lower than at regular competitions.
First to skate among the men, Camden Pulkinen held on to his opening triple Lutz and then landed a triple axel. The 20-year-old, representing Team Johnny, fell on a triple axel that had to be part of a combination. He earned a total score of 129.46 points. Russian-born Alex Krasnozhon landed his opening quad loop and then a triple axel-double toe loop combination. After another successful triple axel attempt, a triple Salchow, a triple flip-triple loop combination, and no falls – the 20-year-old received a total competition score of 138.58 points for Tara’s team.
Representing Team Johnny, 20-year-old from the Chicago area Tomoki Hiwatashi landed his opening quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination but then doubled his second quad attempt right after. A shaky and difficult outing overall earned the skater a total competition score of 131.40 points for Team Johnny. 15-year-old Ilia Malinin, who placed fifth at last month’s Skate America, landed his opening quad toe loop. The skater landed his following triple Salchow that was planned to be a quad, and then hung on to a triple axel and successfully completed a triple Lutz. Coached by his mother Tatiana Malinina, who won the 1999 Four Continents Championship and the 1998-1999 ISU Grand Prix Final, Malinin received a total score of 114.68 points Team Tara.
Silver medalist at last month’s Skate America, Vincent Zhou fell on his first quad attempt and then popped his next try. The 20-year-old landed a triple flip and then a triple axel-triple toe loop combination afterwards. Bronze medalist at the 2019 World Championship, Zhou landed a quad Lutz in the second half of his free skate performance. He received a total score of 141.47 points for Team Johnny.
Two-time World and four-time U.S. National champion Nathan Chen began his routine with a quad loop. He completed a triple flip-double toe loop combination and then held on to a triple Lutz and landed a good quad Salchow. In the second half of the program, Chen landed an effortless quad toe loop-Euler-triple flip combination and then a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination, and a triple axel towards the end of the performance. He received a total competition score of 182.20 points for Team Tara.
Team Tara, led by Chen and Tennell, score a total amount of 828.95 points. Team Johnny earned 774.98 points.
Team Tara – 828.95 total points
1 – Nathan Chen – 182.20
3 – Alex Krasnozhon – 138.58
6 – Ilia Malinin – 114.68
1 – Bradie Tennell – 140.14
3 – Audrey Shin – 132.65
5 – Starr Andrews – 120.70
Team Johnny – 774.98 total points
2 – Vincent Zhou – 141.47
4 – Tomoki Hiwatashi – 131.40
5 – Camden Pulkinen – 129.46
2 – Mariah Bell – 139.42
4 – Karen Chen – 122.43
6 – Alysa Liu – 110.80