December 4, 2021
  • December 4, 2021

Vincent Zhou runs away with a surprising Skate America championship

By on October 24, 2021 0

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier compete in the Pairs Free program during the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating – Skate America on October 23, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Knierim and Frazier second in freestyle

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier lifted the Las Vegas crowd with an electric performance at “Fix You” which netted 136.60 points, a new international record.

The United States champions placed second in the free skate, but that wasn’t enough to fill the gap after placing fifth in the short program and winning a medal. They finished fourth overall with a score of 202.97. Double European champions Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia took gold with 222.50 points.

“This program was just the start of what we are capable of, this program was scratching the service compared to what we do at home without nerves or adrenaline,” said Knierim, 30. “At home we actually skate harder, faster, cleaner.”

On Friday, Frazier came across a triple toe loop jump in the duo’s short program. But on Saturday the navigation was clear, with both skaters pulling off triple toe and triple salchow combinations, with Knierim remaining on his feet on two triple thrown jumps.

Most importantly, they delivered Renee Roca’s exciting and flowing choreography with style and finish, especially the elevators.

“I overthought it yesterday, and when you’re at these events you just have to face it,” said Frazier, 29. “Yesterday I was thinking. Today I did.

“We were pretty discouraged after the short,” Knierim said. “It was hard to see the levels were so low, we have to go home and clean that up. Today we wanted to declare that we belong to the last warm-up group (the first four).

The skaters, who teamed up in the spring of 2020 after long careers with other partners, are coached by three-time US pairs champions Jenni Meno and Todd Sand in Irvine, Calif. Meno believes their rigorous work ethic sets them apart.

“Alexa and Brandon are very capable of making the top five or six in the world,” she said. “From the start, they had a very common goal. They train as if they were at a competition every day. It’s impressive.”

Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson, who train alongside Knierim and Frazier in Irvine, showed superb ranges and powerful throws in their free kick at “Who Wants to Live Forever”, but both skaters made major mistakes. on the individual triple jumps. They scored 128.55 points, also a new international record, and placed fifth with 197.42 points.

“It wasn’t really the program we wanted to skate, but knowing that we can achieve that high score with the two big mistakes (on vault) says a lot about the work we have done over the past year,” Calalang said.

Chelsea Liu and Danny O’Shea, who also train with Meno and Sand in Irvine, were seventh with 175.40 points.

Rika Miura and Ryuichi Kihara’s second place made history, the first Japanese pair to win a Grand Prix medal with a score of 208.20. Russian world championship bronze medalists Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii took bronze with 205.53.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue compete in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating – Skate America Ice Dance Short Program on October 23, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Hubbell and Donohue near fourth consecutive crown

In the rhythmic dance hip-hop rumble, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue edged out US team rivals Madison Chock and Evan Bates, 83.58-82.55, to take a slim lead in the free dance final of Sunday.

Since 2018, the couples have been training together under the direction of coaches Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon and Romain Haguenauer at the Académie des glaces de Montréal (I.AM). Their hip-hop selections are a study of contrasts: raw energy and power versus more subtle pop-techno.

Reigning US champions Hubbell and Donohue – winners of three back-to-back Skate America titles – arrived in Las Vegas with a medley from Janet Jackson, while Chock and Bates picked Billie Eilish’s caps. Ironically, Eilish was Dubreuil’s initial recommendation for Hubbell and Donohue.

“We tried it on the ice and we just thought, ‘No’,” said Hubbell. “At least for us, I felt like it highlighted the things we do naturally, but not really the things people don’t see in us. It was not vibrant.

When one of I.AM’s choreographers, Sam Chouinard, played Jackson’s music during practice, Hubbell and Donohue decided that was just the ticket.

“So we went to (Dubreuil) and she said, ‘Really? Did you see that? ‘”Said Hubbell.” And she said,’ I really thought you’d go the Billie route instead. But, I guess, if you feel inclined. ‘ So we started off ice and we worked with Vincent Noiseux, who was one of Janet Jackson’s backup dancers.

In addition to performing a street dance rhythm, couples must perform a sequence of Midnight Blues, a pattern dance that requires strong edges and deep knee action – specialties of Hubbell and Donohue. After winning the US International Figure Skating Classic last month, the skaters have refined this part of their schedule.

“We made a new transition early on to blues music to draw the crowd, while adding difficulty in the blues to our takes,” said Hubbell. “Since it’s a role model that everyone has to do, we wanted to do something to stand out. “

Hubbell and Donohue got the highest score in the event for their Midnight Blues motif, although there is still room to improve. Several elements of the two couples obtained levels lower than the expectations of the technical panel of the event.

“We definitely left a lot of points on the table,” said Hubbell. “We hope that with additional technical points we get closer (our score) to 90, but today was enough.”

Haguenauer called Skate America’s technical panel “very, very strict”.

“I’m not saying it’s not fair, but when I see junior teams getting levels 3 and here the best teams in the world are just getting levels 1 and 2, I think there is a problem with me in the uniformity of panel techniques across competitions, ”he said.

Chock and Bates also missed some levels. Their closing mid-stages only gained level 1. (The highest possible score is a level 4.)

“We definitely skated better, we had a lot more attacks than at (Finlandia Trophy) two weeks ago,” said Bates. “We got off the ice without expecting the levels to be that low. But that’s okay, we felt we really attacked the program and it was a step forward compared to Finland.

Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen sit third with 75.33 points. In their second season at the senior level, Molly Cesanek and Yehor Yehorov – America’s third pair – had a spirited outing as Bruno Mars and Beyoncé, scoring 61.07 points for ninth place.

Amber Glenn competes in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating – Skate America Women’s Short Program on October 23, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Russians in position to sweep the women’s event

Unsurprisingly, the Russian skaters dominated the women’s short program, with Alexandra Trusova (77.69), Daria Usacheva (76.71) and Kseniia Sinetsyna (71.51) placing in the top three.

Reigning two-time US champion Bradie Tennell had planned to compete, but was forced to retire due to a foot injury. American silver medalist Amber Glenn had the best performance among the team’s skaters, placing seventh with 67.57 points, about 10 points ahead and four points from the medal.

Glenn had a solid program, starting with a solid combination of triple flip, triple toe loop and gaining level 4 on his spins and steps. She wobbled slightly when landing a triple loop.

“We wanted to come here and have a performance that I could be happy with and unfortunately today I’m not very happy with how I did,” said Glenn. “I feel like in the free skate I’ll be able to go out and do what I can do. “

Glenn, who turns 22 on October 28, has tried to land a triple axis in competition, most recently at the Finlandia Trophy in Espoo, Finland earlier this month. The 3½-lap jump was performed by only three American women in international competition: Tonya Harding, Mirai Nagasu and Alysa Liu.

While Glenn managed the jump in practice here, she chose not to try it in Saturday’s competition. A few near-collisions with another competitor during the six-minute warm-up dissuaded him from his mental game.

“I had a few close calls with a skater, and just having that and being tense during the six-minute warm-up, we made the decision not to throw the triple axis in there and risk getting injured,” she declared.

Audrey Shin, who won bronze at Skate America last season, is ninth with 62.82 points. Starr Andrews replaced Tennell in this event and sits 10th with 61.94 points.


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