2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships: Women
In her ninth senior championship, Amber Glenn finally captured the U.S. title in the women’s event. Josephine Lee snagged silver, while defending champion Isabeau Levito had to settle for the bronze medal. The women’s competition was a dramatic event in which the rankings between the short program and free skate were scrambled.
Glenn, 24, began her campaign for gold by skating a dazzling short program to “Heads will Roll” and was rewarded with a standing ovation and 74.98 points. Her dynamic effort included a triple flip-triple toe and all level four spins. The 2023 US bronze medalist stepped onto the warmup ice with noticeable speed, outpacing her competitors, and brought that determined energy to the performance.
“I just had a really good time, especially in the step sequence,” she said afterwards. “I really felt the crowd behind me, and I just had an overall enjoyable experience.”
“When I go out there and I see the signs and the flags and how excited people are, I just feel them with me in the performance,” Amber said of the crowd support on Thursday night. “And sometimes that does add a bit extra pressure, but I feel like it also lifts me up at the same time.”
The next night, in her long program to “Exogenesis,” Glenn displayed her distinct emotional musicality. She opened confidently with a spectacular triple Axel to enormous cheers from the Columbus audience. She followed it up with a glorious triple flip-triple toe, triple loop-double toe and triple Salchow. Then, in a near repeat of her free skate at Skate America that similarly started so strongly, Glenn fizzled, doubling the Lutz and popping the flip.
The judges scored Glenn 135.48 points for the free skate, second in that portion of the event, which resulted in a total competition score of 210.46.
“I mean, absolutely incredible to have this experience,” she said following the free skate. “It’s still not real to me to be honest. I’m kind of getting the same feelings as I did at Skate America that this is such a huge success for me, but also knowing that I’m capable of so much more. People in practice see it all the time. I’ve done it in competitions. So, yeah, just a mix of being extremely grateful for this result, but also knowing that I can do so much better. This wasn’t exactly how I wanted to get my first national title but I’m incredibly thankful for it.”
“I think just trying to figure out how to settle myself,” Glenn said about the insight she hoped to gain from Nationals. “Halfway through and to trust myself and not doubt my capabilities. In having this result here probably helps a lot.”
Looking forward, Glenn said, “It wasn’t Isabeau’s and my night. But I know that going forward and for Worlds, I assume we can go, we can go out and redeem ourselves.”
Glenn is particularly proud of the history-making associated with her win.
“Being the first openly-queer women’s champion is incredible,” she said. “I mean, when I came out originally, I was terrified, and I was scared it would affect my scores or something. But, I didn’t care. It was worth it to see over the last couple of years. The amount of young people that feel more comfortable in their environments at the rink that feel like, ‘Oh, I’m represented by her, like, she’s one of the top. I don’t have to try and hide that side of me.’ And it’s not something that separates you, and just because you have this aspect, doesn’t mean you can’t be a top athlete. Like, we’re here. You’re represented. And it just means a lot.”
Fifth place at last year’s national championships, 15-year-old Lee delivered an inspired short program to earn 65.28 points. She landed her jumps cleaning including her triple loop, triple flip-triple toe and double axel. Dressed in burgundy, she performed to “I Love Paris – J’aime Paris” by Zaz and Cole Porter with commitment and personality.
Lee carried the momentum of her clean short program into the free skate where she landed seven triple jumps, including a triple flip-double Axel-double Axel sequence. Her routine set to “Poeta en el Viento” by Vicente Amigo earned a score of 138.85, the winning free skate of the night. With her short program score, Lee departed Nationwide Arena with a total of 204.13 points and a silver medal.
“I’m just happy that I’ve been able to show what I’ve been doing in practice,” said Lee. “Especially after last year, having such an awful short program and an amazing long program. I was just happy that I could put two programs together and show everybody what I was capable of. But I still don’t know how to feel.”
Lee spoke about her mental fortitude in preparing for the 2024 U.S. National Championships.
“I try to just stay present and stay grounded even though it’s really difficult,” she said. “But, I think after I got through the short program, it was such a relief. And, going into the long program, I tried to have that same mindset again, earlier today.”
Levito appeared to shake off any lingering ghosts from the Grand Prix Final in the short program. Debuting a new short program to Nella Fantasia that showcased her fluidity and grace, the 16-year-old earned 75.38 points. She cranked out a triple Lutz-triple toe and followed it up with a smooth double Axel and triple flip. She was sailing to another level four spin in her closing layback spin when she lost her balance in the final rotations and let go of the Beilman position early. It was only graded a level three.
“I was really nervous going to this event,” she shared. “Especially also because I have a new short program and I hadn’t competed it yet. We just created it. But I’m really happy with how I skated today. I really love this music and I’m really excited for tomorrow.”
Levito said she was not satisfied with the development and evolution of her snake-themed program set to music from “Yearning” by Raul Ferrando. Hence, the change.
Levito began her enchanting free skate to The White Crow with an uncharacteristic tumble on the triple Lutz-triple toe. While she steeled herself for the next four jumping passes, she fell again on the triple flip and triple loop. The three falls resulted in a four-point deduction which, despite her signature elegance, gave her a free skate score of 125.30. The total score of 200.68 demoted her to the third step on the podium.
“This evening kind of felt like a fever dream,” Levito reflected, forlorn. “I was so shaky and nervous for this event. And it was so tough going in trying to defend the title. And I think when I first made that mistake, it kind of like woke me up and I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ And I pulled myself together for another couple minutes. And I honestly don’t even have any recollection of how I went down on my flip and my loop.”
Levito found a silver sequin lining from the night: the audience reaction of support after seeing the 2023 champion falter.
“I just remember when I finished my program and was taking my bows. I was just thinking to myself like I was just like, like just trying to soak in seeing the crowd,” she said. “Some of them stood up for me and just cheered for me. It was really heartwarming, and I felt very loved. And I really enjoyed that, and I feel like that’s one of the best parts of the sport.”
Skating to “I’ll Take Care of You” in the short program, Sarah Everhardt reeled off a triple toe-triple toe, double axel and triple Lutz. Her combination and layback spins received level four grading. The senior debutant earned 63.21 points, placing sixth, and making the lucrative final flight for the free skate.
In the free skate, the 17-year-old delivered more of the same, executing seven clean triple jumps including a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop combination in the second half. Her program to “Winter” from The Four Seasons was skated with commitment as the Columbus crowd cheered more loudly with each completed jump. She earned a free skate score of 130.16 and a total competition score of 193.37 to finish fourth and snag the pewter medal.
“The whole season, I haven’t done a clean long, so I’m really glad that I kind of pulled it together here and did it,” she said afterwards. “And the crowds here are awesome. It’s awesome! There’s so many people that are cheering. It’s my first time skating in front of an awesome crowd and it’s really, really cool!”
The Eastern Sectionals Singles winner said she credits her mental focus for the pewter medal.
“Locking in and just working really, really hard,” she said of her approach in Columbus. “And setting my goal towards skating well here at nationals.”
Everhardt is motivated to continue ascending the national and international scenes.
“Hopefully USFS can give me some internationals next year and just gain a lot of experience and compete more,” she said.
Clare Seo managed to sneak into the top three following the short program with a sturdy and joyful performance to “Simple Gifts.” Her routine featured a determined triple Lutz-triple toe, double Axel and triple loop. All three spin elements were graded as level fours. The 17-year-old earned 67.41 points.
“I’m really happy with the PCS,” Seo said after her short program “Since sectionals, I’ve been working on my program a lot with Tatiana, my ballet teacher,” Seo said after her short program. “And I think that worked out really well. I think the PCS proved that.”
In her “Libertango” and “Oblivion” free skate, Seo started with a bang, laying down a triple Lutz and triple Salchow. However, she then two-footed the landing of the triple flip. She struggled with other underrotations thereafter and finished with 120.15 points for a total competition score of 187.56.
Mia Kalin, 15, finished in eighth place (177.81), but turned heads by landing the first quadruple jump in senior ladies’ competition with her toe. It was the first jump from her “Carmen” free skate. The judges gave the element a +1.9 grade of execution which contributed to her 118.10 free skate score.
“I’m used to doing it so it’s not like the biggest deal to me,” she said of the feat. “But it is really exciting that I was able to do it.”