Golden Skate

Mariah Bell takes first Grand Prix gold at 2020 Skate America

Mariah Bell held on to her overnight lead to win her first Grand Prix gold in the Ladies’ event at 2020 Guaranteed Rate Skate America on Saturday in Las Vegas, Nev. Bradie Tennell finished second, while senior-newcomer Audrey Shin captured the bronze in her Grand Prix debut.

Bell finished fourth (136.25) in the free skate after under-rotating and falling on a triple Lutz near the end of her engaging routine to music from ABBA. That was the only mistake the made as she landed a total of six clean triple lumps, but there was no triple-triple combination. The 2020 U.S. silver medalist was awarded many GOEs for her footwork, as well as her change combination and layback spin, which were all graded level 4. Her overall score was 212.73, enough to maintain her first-place position to with her the title.

“It was a little bit shaky and I felt a little bit stiff,” said Bell, “but I was excited about being able to get my long program out and being in a competition setting. I try not to look too much at outcomes, but more about how I feel. I’m walking away from this performance a little disappointed, but I really had a great time.”

In regards to the style of her “ABBA” long program, the 24-year-old admitted that it’s a little out of her comfort zone, but she still feels pretty natural doing it.

“We worked really hard on it and I have a lot of room to grow, but it’s early,” said Bell. “I’m really excited to get back and continue working on it. I feel like its going to be a program that’s really special to me, but it’s going to take more time to get used to. So I’m excited to experiment with that and to really pull out some solid skates with it.”

Tennell finished first in the free skate (137.78) with her graceful and airy routine to “Sarajevo” and “Dawn of Faith.” The 2020 Four Continents bronze medalist under-rotated the back end of her opening triple Lutz-triple toe, but landed a solid double Axel and triple loop. She put hand down and stepped out of triple Salchow and her second triple Lutz-triple toe was called “q” for “landing on the quarter” on both jumps. The triple flip (in combination with a double toe-double loop) was also given a “q,” but she earned a level 4 with many Grades of Execution (GOE) for her spins and footwork. Her total score was 211.07.

“I actually felt really good about the program,” said the 2020 U.S. bronze medalist. “I’ve just have a lot of things thrown at me over the last month in and half that impacted my training, so to be able to come out here and compete like that in eight months, I feel great. There’s a lot of room to grow, but I feel really happy with what I did today.”

The 24-year-old explained that she had a could of minor injuries earlier this season that prevented her from jumping for a couple of weeks.

“Right up until about last Wednesday I was doing my programs without any combos for a while,” revealed Tennell. “Actually in practice yesterday, was the first time I did a triple toe. I also had some boot issues; I got these skates a couple of weeks ago.”

Skating to music from the Modigliani soundtrack, Shin landed a triple Lutz-triple toe, but then under-rotated the back end of a double Axel-triple toe. This was the only glaring error for the 16-year-old who landed a total of five clean triple jumps. All spins and footwork were graded level 4 with positive GOEs, and she earned 136.38 in the free skate and a total score of 206.15.

“I’m so thankful I got to compete here at Skate America,” said Shin. “I felt a little nervous before I got on the ice, but I’m glad that I landed everything and that I put out a good performance.”

“In the back of mind, I kept thinking ‘I really want to be on that podium,'” said the 2019 U.S. junior silver medalist of her first Grand Prix medal, “but I tried not think about it too much so it didn’t affect my long program. Today I just took each element one at time.”

“I knew I could put out two clean programs coming to Skate America,” Shin summed up. “While I was training in Colorado, I worked with Tammy (Gambill) each session on my run-throughs, taking it from top to bottom.”

Karen Chen, who stood in fourth after the short, earned 136.77 points for second place after the free skate. Her routine to “The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto” by Takako Nishizaki featured a double Axel-triple toe, solo triple Lutz, and triple Lutz-double toe-double loop. With a score of 204.90, she maintained fourth overall.

Chen describes her program as the Chinese version of “Romeo and Juliet.”

“It’s so special. It’s very iconic and I’ve always loved this piece of music,” said the 21-year-old. “I feel like I’m finally mature enough to portray the character.”

Amber Glenn maintained fifth place overall (190.09), while China’s Shan Lin moved up one spot to sixth (182.11).

When asked what would be her wish for the 2020-21 season if it continues, the 2019 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic bronze medalist said “doing the triple Axel” without hesitation.

“That, as well as just cleaning up both short and free skate,” said Glenn. “Both in the ISP series and here, it was just getting through it. I wish it could have been more of performing and just enjoying myself. It was more of a ‘physical, get it done, move on to the next task so we can get back to training.'”

Glenn enjoys working with Peter and Darlene Cain in Texas, and especially values her friendship with their daughter, Ashley.

“She is one of my best friends and has been for over a decade now,” said Glenn. “She knows me better than anyone that’s not my own family. She knows me so well, we’re there for each other, were honestly sisters at this point. Being able to go to competitions like this together, is just wonderful. And of course there’s Tim (LeDuc) who is like an older brother to me. I call them my ‘skating parents.'”