Nathan Chen leads after short program at U.S. Nationals; Cain-Gribble and LeDuc, Chock and Bates win national titles in Nashville

Nathan Chen at the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Bridgestone Arena on January 08, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The highly anticipated men’s discipline kicked off at the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday and produced multiple incredible performances and scores. Also, champions in the pairs’ and the ice dance disciplines were crowned tonight in Nashville.

Three-time World and five-time national champion Nathan Chen presented his short program to La Bohème – the music he used during the 2019-2020 season – and landed a quad flip at the start. He later completed a triple axel and a quad Lutz-triple toe loop combination. The 22-year-old received a score of 115.39 points – over three points above the current world record, owned by Yuzuru Hanyu – and leads the strong men’s field.

With gold medals at the Nebelhorn Trophy and Skate America this season, as well as a silver at the NHK Trophy, Vincent Zhou has been enjoying a career-best season and continued the success with a great short program in Music City. Skating to Vincent by Don McLean, the 21-year-old landed a quad Lutz-triple toe loop combination and later completed a quad Salchow – which received a q for a quarter-under-rotation – and a triple axel. The 2019 World bronze medalist earned a score of 112.78 points and is currently second by less than three points.

17-year-old Ilia Malinin was dominant on the International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix series this season and successfully put it all together at the national championship. Skating to Billie Jean by David Cook, Malinin landed a quad Lutz to start his short program performance. He also completed a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination and a triple axel. The son of 1999 Four Continents champion and 1998-1999 ISU Grand Prix Final winner Tatiana Malinina and two-time Olympian Roman Skorniakov, Malinin received a score of 103.46 points and is currently third.

2015 U.S. national champion Jason Brown had a well-documented 33-hour trip from his training location in Toronto to the competition in Nashville. Nevertheless, skating to Sinnerman by Nina Simone, the 27-year-old figure skater delivered an outstanding performance. He landed a triple flip, a triple axel, and a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination. Despite the lack of quads, Brown received the highest program component score of the event and earned a total score of 100.84 points – less than three points off of third place.

Results after short program:

  1. Nathan Chen – 115.39
  2. Vincent Zhou – 112.78
  3. Ilia Malinin – 103.46
  4. Jason Brown – 100.84
  5. Jimmy Ma – 91.62
  6. Camden Pulkinen – 90.16
  7. Yaroslav Paniot – 88.68
  8. Liam Kapeikis – 73.77
  9. Dihn Tran – 71.18
  10. Mitchell Friess – 66.07
  11. Ryan Dunk – 65.66
  12. Artur Dmitriev, Jr. – 62.40
  13. Paul Yeung – 60.01
  14. Sebastien Payannet – 48.52

Judges’ Scores

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc at the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Bridgestone Arena on January 06, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

U.S. champions in 2019, Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc celebrated their second national titles and most likely punched their ticket to the 2022 Winter Olympics. Skating to W.E. by Abel Korzeniowski in the free skate, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc completed a level three triple twist lift, side-by-side triple loops, and a triple flip throw. Later, they landed side-by-side double Salchow-double toe loop-double loop combinations and executed a triple Salchow throw. Bronze medalists at Skate Canada this season, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc received a score of 145.84 points for their performance and earned a total competition score of 225.23 points.

Silver medalists at the previous two U.S. Nationals, Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson were hopeful to finally take a leap onto the top step of the podium; however, had to settle for a third consecutive silver. Skating to Who Wants to Live Forever by Queen, they started their free skate performance with side-by-side double Salchows, a level four triple twist lift and side-by-side triple toe loops in attempted combinations. Later on, Calalang and Johnson completed triple Salchow and Lutz throws. Trailing the leaders by just under two points after the short program, they received a score of 132.39 points for their presentation and earned a total result of 209.87 points.

Final Results

  1. Ashley Cain-Gribble & Timothy LeDuc – 225.23
  2. Jessica Calalang & Brian Johnson – 209.87
  3. Audrey Lu & Misha Mitrofanov – 191.54
  4. Emily Chan & Spencer Howe – 177.25
  5. Kate McBeath & Nathan Bartholomay – 167.10
  6. Valentina Plazas & Maximiliano Fernandez – 148.37
  7. Kate Finster & Matej Silecky – 144.14
  8. Sydney Cooke & Keyton Bearinger – 136.31

Judges’ Scores

Madison Chock and Evan Bates at the 2021 NHK Trophy at Yoyogi National Gymnasium on November 13, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/International Skating Union via Getty Images)

The ice dance discipline saw the top two American couples battle it out for gold – Madison Chock and Evan Bates coming out on top to claim their third national title. Holding a larger than two-point lead after the rhythm dance, Chock and Bates presented their free dance program to music by Daft Punk. They received a score of 135.43 points and earned a competition winning score of 227.37 points.

Another three-time championship winning duo Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue posted the top free dance score of 136.20 points but had to settle for second place with a total competition score of 225.59 points. Skating to Drowning by Anne Sila, Hubbell and Donohue participated in their final national championship as this is their last season.

Three-time U.S. national bronze medalists Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker won their fourth consecutive bronze this weekend. The United States has three spots in the ice dance discipline at the 2022 Winter Olympics and Hawayek and Baker are clear frontrunners to claim that spot. Fourth after the rhythm dance, they received a free dance score of 126.29 points and took third place with a total score of 205.68 points.

Third-year ice dance team Caroline Green and Michael Parsons finished the U.S. Championships in fourth place for the second straight year. Skating to music by Ezio Bosso in the free dance event, Green and Parsons have had a somewhat of a breakout season and look to be a potential contending couple in the future. They received a free dance result of 122.42 points and earned a total score of 203.27 points.

Final Results

  1. Madison Chock & Evan Bates – 227.37
  2. Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donahue – 225.59
  3. Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker – 205.68
  4. Caroline Green & Michael Parsons – 203.27
  5. Emily Bratti & Ian Somerville – 187.98
  6. Katarina Wolfkostin & Jeffrey Chen – 187.27
  7. Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko – 185.82
  8. Eva Pate & Logan Bye – 180.72
  9. Lorraine McNamara & Anton Spiridonov – 179.35
  10. Molly Cesanek & Yehor Yehorov – 172.11
  11. Cayla Cottrell & Uladzislau Palkouski – 118.80
  12. Livvy Shilling & Ryan O’Donnell – 115.43
  13. Cara Murphy & Joshau Levitt – 106.01
    WD – Raffaella Koncius & Alexey Shchepetov – 11th after RD (52.63)

Judges’ Scores

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