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USA’s Chen back on track; takes gold at Skate Canada

Nathen Chen

USA’s Nathen Chen performs his Free Skate at 2021 Skate Canada.

USA’s Nathan Chen is back on track after a dismal outing last week at Skate America. On Saturday night, the three-time world champion secured his first Skate Canada gold in Vancouver, BC, at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Teammate Jason Brown landed the silver while Russia’s Evgeni Semenenko rose from fifth to claim the bronze.

Chen, who gave a spectacular short (106.72), produced four quads in his routine to music by Mozart along with five solid triple jumps.  The 22-year-old held on to the landing of a quad toe in combination with a double toe, but otherwise racked up many base value points for his jumps as well as positive grades of executions (GOE) for all other elements, including two level-four spins and level-three footwork. He scored 200.46 for a first-place finish in the free skate and overall (307.18).

“It’s an honor to be up here with these two guys,” said Chen, nodding to Brown and Semenenko. “Jason always pushes the sport. I’ve had better outings than I have here, but I’m always pushing forward. I’m excited to get back home and train. ‘Lacrimosa’ is a very complex piece, there’s a lot more work to be done, but it’s a good start!”

Chen acknowledged that he was dealing with a “hip thing” and hopes to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

Brown maintained second overall (259.55) after placing third (165.55) in the free skate. The U.S. National bronze medalist stepped out his opening quad Salchow and fell on a triple Axel, but quickly recovered to produce six clean triple jumps along with excellent level-four spins and footwork in his routine to Schindler’s List.

“I’m a little disappointed with my free skate, but the Grand Prix is an opportunity to find out what works and what doesn’t,” said the 2021 Finlandia Trophy Champion. “I’m thrilled to be up here with these two! It’s a real honor and it’s incredible to watch Nathan push the sport in his way.”

Semenenko was fifth (87.71) coming into the free skate. The Russian National Junior Champion landed a quad toe-double toe, a quad toe, and three clean triple jumps. The only major error was a hand down on the landing of a quad Salchow and step out on a triple Axel. He finished second (168.30) in the free skate and rose to third overall (256.01) to claim his first Grand Prix medal.

“I think I skated well for my first Grand Prix,” said the 18-year-old from St. Petersburg. ” I’m happy with my skate and it’s also a great honor to skate with Nathan and Jason! I also want to thank all the coaches in my group.”

Semenenko went on to say that last season was good for him. Due to a lot injuries, he hasn’t competed much until he reached the age of 16. In fact, he didn’t start doing quads until last season. He is currently scheduled to compete at his second Grand Prix this season at Rostelecom Cup later next month.

Makar Ignatov placed fifth (154.38) in the free skate and maintained fourth overall (244.17). The 2021 Russian National silver medalist underrotated and fell on his opening quad loop and stepped out of a triple Axel, but landed a clean quad Salchow, quad toe, and quad toe-double toe. He is slated to compete again at NHK Trophy later in November.

Keegan Messing struggled with jumps in his free skate (145.06). He landed a quad toe-double toe, but stepped out of a quad toe, fell on a triple loo and triple Lutz, popped an Axel and stepped out of the back-end of a triple flip-triple toe.

“I just tried to let it roll of my back like water on a duck,” he said. “I felt a bit shaky on my right leg. It started on the first Axel I landed and it felt wobbly. I’m not sure if it was nerves or something else. It was fun being in front of a home crowd again. It just made me want to do even better. I’m just bummed I wasn’t able to put out the performance I wanted to.”

Keegan will compete again at 2021 Internationaux de France in a few weeks.

Morisi Kvitelashvili of Georgia rose from 12th to sixth overall (232.87) after finishing fourth (161.27) in the free skate. His routine to a Frank Sinatra medley featured two quads, as well as level-four spins, but he stepped out his opening quad Salchow and two-footed the landing of a triple flip. He will compete next at Rostelecom Cup in Russia.

Sota Yamamoto of Japan doubled his opening quad toe and then fell on a second attempt, as well as slightly underrotated both triple Axels. He finished seventh overall (225.74). This was a solo Grand Prix event for the season for the 21-year-old from Nagoya.

Russia’s Alexander Samarin landed a solid quad Lutz-triple toe, but stepped out of several jumps and fell on a triple Axel. He finished eighth overall (224.20).

Conrad Orzel of Canada finished sixth in the free skate and ninth overall (149.56/222.75).

“Definitely the overall from the short was a bummer,” he said, “but I was able to bounce back and deliver two great toes in the free skate. Even though there were some mistakes, I was still happy with the performance in general.”

Keiji Tanaka of Japan placed 10th (222.20) followed by USA’s Tomoki Hiwatashi (221.77) and Roman Sadovsky (217.73).

“I think in general I just wasn’t ready enough for this competition,” said Hiwatashi. “I need to work on consistency and only have a week before NHK, so will continue to work on this. We’ll see how that goes.”

“The free program got comfortable after the first three jumps, but overall, I wish I could have done more,” said Sadovsky. “There were some changes, but I will work on things before the next event (Rostelecom).”

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