Home Figure Skating News Malinin takes Skate America gold with quad Axel

Malinin takes Skate America gold with quad Axel

by Paula Slater
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2022 Skate America - Men

Ilia Malinin of the United States competes in the Men’s Free Skate during at 2022 Skate America on October 22, 2022 in Norwood, Massachusetts.

2022 Skate America – Men’s Recap

USA’s Ilia Malinin took gold in the 2022 Skate America Men’s event with a spectacular quad Axel in Norwood, Mass., on Saturday night. Japan’s Kao Miura earned the silver—his first Grand prix medal, while South Korea’s Junhwan Cha settled for the bronze.

Malinin, who took a fall on a quad toe in the short program (86.08), put down a new personal best (194.29) with his free skate to music from Euphoria. The 2022 World Junior Champion also took a fall on a under-rotated quad Lutz combination in the free skate, but otherwise produced four solid quad jumps, including a beautiful quad Axel which garnered many positive grades of execution (GOE). The spins were all graded a level four, and with a total score of 280.37, the 17-year-old easily bounded from fourth to first overall.

“I felt great, it was a really good skate!” said the skater in the mixed zone. “I’m still in shock! I don’t know how I pulled that off, but I just know that I trusted my practice and it worked well.”

Malinin, who stood in fourth coming into the free skate, felt that it was important for him to forget what happened in the short and to just focus on the long program.

“I think that I was really well-prepared going into the long,” said Malinin. “I think that it definitely gave me the confidence to try the quad Axel and I was able to pull it off, so I am very satisfied. I think I just have to keep that confidence with every competition I do.”

The factoring decision to do the quad Axel was made during the six-minute warm-up and where the skater made his final decision to do the element.

“I sort of stuck with it through the entrance,” Malinin explained. “I wasn’t just wandering around wondering if I should it. I just stick with my mind and I was able to pull it off.”

The skater will compete in his next Grand Prix in Finland and plans to focus on more his choreography and his program components score.

“My programs this year are completely different from what I had last year,” Malinin acknowledged. “We tried more challenging choreographers to add a lot more for the component score, a lot more artistry, choreography and creativity, and I think that as of it right now it’s a really good work in progress. I think that over time this season it will become a lot better and toward the end of the season, it will be pretty good.”

The skater admitted he made a lot of mistakes at this event, and that going into his next Grand Prix in Espoo, he can take a look at them and work them out using the several weeks he has to improve.

“With Nathan (Chen) being a role model, he’s really pushed the sport and I think I got that from him,” said Malinin of his motivation. “It makes me push myself to be like him or even be better. I think that everything he’s gone through, he definitely helped me understand what he went through and that helps me.”

Miura, who stood in first after a dynamic and solid short program, landed three quads in his free skate to music from from Beauty and the Beast, but fell on his opening quad loop and stepped out a triple Axel. The 2022 Four Continents bronze medalist still scored a new personal best of 178.23, placing second in the free skate and overall (273.19).

“I was in such top form coming in, so I was able to do very well here,” said the 17-year-old from Yokohama. “Regarding the free program, I know there were some mistakes and that will give me things to work on until my next competition. My next competition is  Skate Canada and it is the first time for me to do two overseas Grand Prixes. I learned a lot here and hope to use it at Skate Canada.”

The Japanese National junior champion pointed out that his free skate is much different from last season’s “Preludio” routine.

“I’m trying to depict the whole story of the Beauty and the Beast and of course with the magic, I was turned into the ‘beast,'” Miura explained. “I go through all the troubles and the struggles, and then I come back to being human thanks to Belle and I show up and end up with the dance with Belle. The whole flow of the story is something I have to really convey, and to do that, I also need to work on the very soft expressions of the music, which I didn’t do last season.”

“Also for my jumps, I’m trying to have it in sync with the music more,” he added. “The Axel is a very difficult jump for me, and especially in the second half, the Axel is when I’m turning back into human so I hope I can depict that through the jump and the timing and everything.”

This is the first time the skater has had two overseas Grand Prix events as he competed at NHK Trophy the two seasons prior.

“I learned a lot from this competition on how to adjust myself of the jet-lag conditioning in a very short time to build up to the competition,” said Miura. “So all these take-aways I will bring to Canada next week and hopefully make good use of it.”

Cha placed second (94.44) in the short and third (169.61) in the free skate for a third-place finish overall (264.05). In his free skate to music to No Time To Die, the 2022 Four Continents Champion landed a very good quad Salchow, but put a foot down on the quad toe and later fell on a under-rotated triple Axel.

“I’m quite happy about my performance today,” said the 21-year-old national champion. “It was not perfect and it was not what I wanted, but I tried hard and I’m quite satisfied. I can work on my mistakes for the next Grand Prix [NHK Trophy], so I’m happy about it.”

Cha shared that he also wanted to challenge himself this year, and wants to have more power in his free skate.

“I still have more to work on, but it’s the beginning of the season,” he said. “I learned a lot of things yesterday and today and I want to work a lot more on my jumps and spins and to have more energy in my program.”

Cha is one of the few skaters who ends his program with a choreographic sequence. He explained that he spoke with his choreographer Shae-Lynn Bourne about this and that they both felt that since he did the Ina Bauer so well, it would be good to incorporate it in this manner.

Italy’s Daniel Grassl finished fourth overall (257.68) ahead of Roman Sadovsky of Canada (225.41).

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