Teen Isabeau Levito wins U.S. women’s figure skating title
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Teen star Isabeau Levito needed a nearly flawless free skate to win gold at the US Figure Skating Championships after Bradie Tennell’s beautiful performance minutes earlier.
And 15-year-old Levito accomplished just that, posting a stunning 149.55 for a 223.33 overall score to win her first women’s national championship on Friday night.
The New Jersey skater received a rousing standing ovation from an audience impressed by her poise under pressure on the major national team stage.
Two-time US Champion Tennell posted a 139.36 in the free skate and finished second with a total score of 213.12.
Levito looked unimpressed, gracefully landing her Triple Lutz Half Loop Triple Salchow sequence and other most difficult jumps while captivating the crowd as the last skater of the night. She came into the freestyle, which Tennell led, after Thursday’s short program with just two-hundredths of a point.
Amber Glenn was third with 207.44. She put in an impressive 138.48 free skate that put her at the top, leaving the top three skaters from the short program.
Starr Andrews, a fan favorite after making her national team debut five years ago at the age of 16 on that ice in San Jose, finished fourth with 188.24. She missed her scheduled triple flip early in her routine and was visibly disappointed after a freestyle that scored 119.27.
There’s certainly some nostalgia here for Andrews, who dazzled with a free skate set to her cover of Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time” in her 2018 Senior Nationals debut at the SAP Center. She was third on Friday – just a hundredth of a point ahead of Glenn.
Glenn finished fourth on Friday after her 68.96 in the short program. The 2021 US silver medalist was forced to withdraw from last year’s event after testing positive for COVID-19.
Josephine Lee, who made her senior debut and was 11th after the short program, skated beautifully in the free skate event, posting a 132.08 and a total score of 187.68. She beamed afterwards when she heard her score on a night she delivered a triple flip double axel double toe loop sequence that was sure to impress the judges.
And reigning junior champion Clare Seo showed attitude and promise at 16 as one of the younger skaters looking at this quad.
Levito, the reigning junior world champion who placed third in her senior debut last year, came out as the favorite to her first US title. She won silver in both Grand Prix events and the Grand Prix final last month.
It was a disappointing night for two-time national champion Gracie Gold. She put on one of her best short programs in recent memory to enter Friday’s freestyle in fifth place, only to miss a few of her scheduled threes. She won US titles in 2014 and ’16.
Earlier Friday, 18-year-old Ilia Malinin posted a personal best of 110.36 in the men’s short program as he chases his first national title and leads second-placed veteran Jason Brown by more than 10 points before competing in Sunday’s free skate .
Malinin finished second to Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen – now a mentor who supports the teen star – in his senior debut last year but was passed over in favor of the more experienced bay for the Olympic team.
This time, Brown appreciated chasing after the youngster and feeling the energy of the crowd.
“I’m very surprised how I managed to do that, especially because the whole beginning of the season didn’t go so well with all the short programs,” said Malinin. “I think we took the time and effort to look at all the bad things I’ve done just to take it all in to see what works best. We changed the program a bit and I think that also helped to achieve the performance.”
US Figure Skating announced Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio as the venue for the 2024 national teams.
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