Levito Shines in Short Program at Worlds, Places Second

Isabeau Levito posted an international personal best score of 73.73 to finish second in the short program at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2024 in Montreal.

Photo Credit Getty Images
By Troy Schwindt

Isabeau Levito couldn’t stop smiling after her short program Wednesday night at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2024 in Montreal.

The 2023 U.S. champion posted an international personal best score of 73.73 to finish second in the short program. She will look to win her first World medal, and Team USA’s second in three years, Friday.

Levito, who turned 17 on March 3, was the 33rd of 35 skaters to take the ice at the Bell Centre. Skating to “Nella Fantasia,” the New Jersey native was at her best, starting with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination that was awarded more than 10 points. She also received Level 4s for all three of her spins.

“I was satisfied with my performance,” Levito said. “I knew that wherever I ended up on the podium after today, it didn’t matter to me because I skated the way I wanted to skate.”

Levito arrived in Montreal having endured an up-and-down season. She finished first and second in the Grand Prix Series but faltered at the Grand Prix Final and placed fifth. Levito then led after the short program at the U.S. Championships but placed fourth in the free skate to earn bronze.

“[The performance] really helps my confidence,” said Levito, who placed fourth at the 2023 World Championships. “I thought there was a part of me that rises to the occasion under competition pressure. I know I’m such a strong competitor inside and it’s good to have that coming back again.”   

U.S. champion Amber Glenn sits in ninth place after the short program. Glenn, 24, and, like Levito, competing at her second World Championships, fell on her triple loop midway through her program to “Heads Will Roll” by Elephant Music and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. She posted a score of 64.53.

“Going into loop I didn’t take up as much ice as I should have,” Glenn said. “I kind of crumpled myself and made it a little small. The rink is a little small so I was like, ‘Oh, I’m close to the boards, Oh, no I’m not’ and then it just went the incorrect way.

“I was in shock. From that point I thought get levels on your spins and still try and enjoy it and do the best I can.”

Glenn, for the second time this season, will look to overcome a deficit heading into the free skate. At Grand Prix Espoo, she made the biggest jump to the podium in the history of the Grand Prix Series after going from 11th to third.

The 2023 SKATING magazine Readers’ Choice Award winner, said she felt the support of the crowd throughout the performance.  

“It was really encouraging,” said Glenn, who is a Texas native and trains in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “I felt like I tried to still perform in that step sequence. I still tried to enjoy myself and show that this is a great program and I’ve really enjoyed it this season. Having the crowd be so encouraging, I definitely want to perform better in the free skate.”  

Glenn said she feels great pride and responsibility for her legions of fans.

“It's everything,” she said. “It's huge. I mean, to see the pride flags in the audience, the messages I get, the people that come up to me – it means everything. That's one of the biggest reasons why I keep going and why, even in disappointments like this, I want to show that no matter how you are, what you are, what you've been through, you can still progress and keep going and get better.”

In the pairs competition, reigning U.S. pairs champions Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea posted a season-best international score of 64.44 to finish 10th in the segment.

The Colorado Springs, Colorado-based team achieved Level 4 marks on four elements and landed their side-by-side triple Salchows, but experienced a fall on their throw triple loop in their “East of Eden” program.

“An obvious mistake in the program and I’m proud to say Ellie has done absolutely amazingly for the past month, so we know it’s there,” said O’Shea, who with Kam placed 12th in their Worlds debut in 2023. “It’s one of those things where over the course of our career, we’ve talked about growth each individual competition, trying to take another step forward. Build confidence, build our performance. It’s nice to see that with a fall – a fairly large mistake – we still get a season-best. That means the other things we’ve been working on are improving and the judges are starting to see that piece as well.”

Kam and O’Shea, coached by Drew Meekins, made several visits to Canada this season to work alongside World champions Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan and their coach Bruno Marcotte.

“Bruno is great with technical; we’re working on some strong technique out there,” O’Shea said. “It’s sometimes nice to have a little bit of a change of training atmosphere, then we go home and buckle down again. For both of us, it’s an escape from the world outside of skating, too. I work outside of skating and [Kam] has school outside of skating. It’s a lot of obligations, so we’re forced to be a little calmer when we’re there which is a different dynamic.”

Competing their short program for only the second time this season due to injury, Emily Chan and Spencer Howe delivered a cautious yet entertaining program to an Elvis medley.

The Boston-based team finished 12th in the segment with a score of 62.86. Chan and Howe, who withdrew after their winning short program at the 2024 U.S. Championships out of caution to be able to compete at Worlds, received a Level 4 for their opening triple twist but had negative GOEs on their throw and spin.

“This competition environment will provide you something that you can’t get anywhere else, so overall we’re really happy,” Howe said. “I think we’ve had to overcome a lot of challenges and we’ve put in a lot of new things to practice and just working together to come out here and be able to do great. Yes, we have gotten bigger scores before in the past, but we’re super happy with our performance. We have nothing but open hearts and joy as we move into the free skate.”

The U.S. bronze medalist team of Valentina Plazas and Maximiliano Fernandez placed 13th with an international personal best score of 61.64. They achieved a Level 4 on five of their elements; their only miscue came on their side-by-side triple toe loops.

“Consistency,” they said in unison, is a main priority in regard to their technical elements.

“We are very consistent in our pair elements and we are just trying to put our foot forward in regard to our singles elements like our side by sides [jumps],” Fernandez said. “Everything else we know what to do and we are just missing that one thing to get us to the top and this is just a step to be here at Worlds and put that next step forward.”

Plazas and Fernandez are the first U.S. pairs team to compete at the World Championships in which both partners are of Latin descent, something they are proud of.

“With Val’s heritage being Colombian and me being of Peruvian and Cuban descent, we are ecstatic to show everyone that they can do it, too,” Fernandez said. “It’s exciting to show another diverse culture in the sport. … At the end of the day we are Americans, but we do love our culture and what’s behind that.”

Competition resumes Thursday with the men’s short program and pairs free skate. Fans can watch live on Peacock and follow live results here. To view the full TV schedule, click here.