To the delight of the home crowd, 2023 ISU World bronze medalist Ilia Malinin (USA)is on track to defend his Skate America title after taking the lead in the Men’s Short Program with a confident performance in Allen, Texas (USA) on Friday. Kevin Aymoz of France stands in second place while Japan’s Shun Sato came third.
Malininturned into a Flamenco dancer and put out a crisp performance to “Malaguena”, opening with an effortless quad toeloop and following up with a quad Lutz-triple toe and triple Axel. The U.S. Champion picked up a level four for his spins and footwork to post a seasons best of 104.06 points.
“The skate I had today was one of the best all my career so far. I was so into the music and the performance that I was not aware of what was going around me. I was able to notice that towards the end of the program everyone in the audience was going nuts, and it was just such a good feeling to see how I performed so well,” the 18-year-old shared.
“I think one of the big things was this season I tried to find music that was really something out of my zone and something that I wasn’treally comfortable with and just something that I wouldn’t expect to be skating to.
“I was really trying to go all out this season with the artistry and creativity. I really found some interesting piece of music that doesn’t usually fit the style that I skate to and I tried to adapt and learn with Shae-Lynn Bourne (choreographer).”
“I am really happy with my performance today. I was confused and upset with myself in the training this morning. I had time to think today and attacked the competition,” Aymoz explained.
“This program is really meaningful, there’s a story behind it and I love to skate and share emotions.”
Sato landed a quad toe-triple toe and triple Axel, but stepped out of his quad flip. Nevertheless, the 2022 ISU Grand Prix Finalistfor the first time cracked the 90-point barrier, scoring 91.61 points.
“Obviously I was happy with my jumps but more than that I was really happy that I was able to get the level fours on all of my spins and the steps,” Sato noted. “So I will do the same tomorrow and focus on the spins and steps.”
Nozomu Yoshioka (JPN), who is competing in his first senior-level Grand Prix, came fourth with a clean performance on 87.44 points. NikaEgadze (GEO) sits in fifth (85.76 points) while DenissVasiljevs (LAT) came sixth on 75.84 points.
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ISU Grand Prix Schedule
The schedules of each ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events are available below:
The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series started in 1995 (previously known a s the ISU Champions Series) and consists of six invitational international senior events and the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. The top six of the past World Championships are seeded. Competitors collect points in their events towards the qualification for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. Only the top six Skaters / Couples in each discipline qualify for the Final.