Home Figure Skating News Malinin pockets another gold in Espoo

Malinin pockets another gold in Espoo

by Paula Slater
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2022 Grand Prix Espoo Men

USA’s Ilia Malinin won his second consecutive gold medal in the Men’s event at 2022 Grand Prix Espoo on November 26, 2022.

2022 Grand Prix Espoo – Men

USA’s Ilia Malinin pocketed his second consecutive gold medal in the Men’s event at 2022 Grand Prix Espoo on Saturday. Shun Sato of Japan rose to claim the silver, while Kevin Aymoz of France settled for bronze.

Malinin lands his first quad flip in competition

Malinin, who stood in second (85.57) after the short program, attempted a quad Axel in his routine to music from from Euphoria, but the jump was slightly underrotated and he stepped out and put a hand down on the landing. The 2022 World Junior Champion rallied to land a solid quad flip—his first in competition— as well as a quad toe and quad toe-Euler-triple Salchow. A solo quad Salchow was slightly underrotated as was the back end of a triple flip-triple toe, but his triple flip-triple Axel sequence was clean. He placed first in the free skate with 192.82 points, and with a total score of 278.39, easily cinched first place with nearly 16 points to spare.

“I’m still in shock at how I was able to perform,” Malinin said. “I was a little mad after yesterday’s performance. I was really hoping that today I would forget about it and gain my confidence again just to make sure that I am able to be in control of everything. I definitely put it out there.”

On competing against Shoma Uno at the upcoming Grand Prix Final, Malinin said: “A couple of years ago I was just watching him skate as a little kid and now I am competing with him and hearing he called me a ‘challenge’ really makes me surprised and makes me realize how much effort I put during all these years. I will continue to push myself. I am just really happy and am looking forward to see him there.”

Qualifying for the Grand Prix Final has always been a dream for the 17-year-old. He was unable to compete at the Junior Grand Prix Final last season as it was cancelled due to the pandemic.

When asked which skater(s) inspired him, Malinin replied: “I look up to any skater. I find something unique in every skater that I try to include into my own skating. A person I really look up to is Yuzuru Hanyu. Hs determination over all these years, how easy his jumps look, how he performs… he was my main inspiration to try the Quad Axel. He really motivated me to try it and land it.”

Shun lands three clean quads

Skating to “Red Violin,” Shun reeled off a quad Lutz, quad toe-triple toe, triple Axel, and quad toe. The 2022 Grand Prix de France silver medalist only received an edge call on a triple flip, but was otherwise solid and produced two level four spins. He scored a new personal best of 180.62 points and moved up to second overall with another personal best total score of 262.21 points.

“Yesterday I was not happy with my short program, but I was able to recover and make up for it,” said the 18-year-old from Saitama. “My coach told me tomorrow is another day and I was able to skate clean. Of course I’m really happy I am in the Grand Prix Final. I will compete there against the top skaters, including Ilia, and I will have to work hard because of that!”

A clean skate for Aymoz

Aymoz, who stood in first after the short (88.96), gave a good performance to music from the Gladiator soundtrack. The 2019-20 Grand Prix Final bronze medalist landed a total of six clean triple jumps. The only small error was an edge call on a triple flip, but he showed two very good level-four spins and footwork. He also earned the highest program component scores and finished third with 166.73 points. With a total score of 255.69, however, it was not enough to keep him in first or second place.

“I am so happy, I am so proud!” said Aymoz. “You can’t imagine! I didn’t believe it would be possible to stay on the podium without quads, but as I said yesterday, I guess quality matters.”

“Tonight I was confident, happy, there are many words,” he added. “I was just in the moment and it was the best for me. Skating last was difficult. It’s like the six-minute warm-up almost didn’t exist. It’s a 45-minute wait and you have to go out on the ice and be ready. I worked with my psychologist, sometimes three or four times a week, to work on confidence and to try to eliminate what stressed me. I just used the tools she gave me and voilà.”

The book The Song of Achilles is what inspired the Frenchman for his free skate.

“I cried all of my tears on this book,” Aymoz shared. “I thought about what music I can bring. I always want to find new music, but I realized that maybe it’s not the time to find something new, but to do something special on something that already exists. That’s why I chose the music of Gladiator. My story is not about gladiators, but the music touches my heart and it’s the story of two people fighting for love. I am proud because I did the choreography myself for both programs.”

Tatsuya Tsuboi of Japan finished fourth overall (244.90). He was fifth coming into the free skate, and his routine featured a quad Salchow and six solid triple jumps. The 2022 World Junior bronze medalist scored all new personal bests at this event.

USA’s Camden Pulkinen finished fifth overall (229.92) ahead of Sweden’s Nikolaj Majorov (209.55) and Arlet Levandi of Estonia (209.50).

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