Chock and Bates Set Rhythm Dance Record with Aim on U.S. Title No. 5

Madison Chock and Evan Bates broke the U.S. Championships record for the highest-ever rhythm dance score while Isabeau Levito sits in position to repeat after the women’s short program.

Photo credit Melanie Heaney/U.S. Figure Skating

Reigning World Champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates broke the U.S. Championships record for the highest-ever rhythm dance score on the third day of competition at the 2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

They breezed to the lead and will compete for their fifth U.S. title on Saturday.

Isabeau Levito also sits in position to repeat after the women’s short program. However, the slimmest of margins separates Levito and Amber Glenn, with both setting new personal bests.

2024 U.S. pairs silver medalists Emily Chan and Spencer Howe made their season debut and lead heading into the free skate.

In the first event of the day, Logan Higase-Chen secured the junior women’s title.

Chock and Bates take Queen to top of Charts, Earn Rhythm Dance Record
Four-time and reigning U.S. ice dance champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates set the record for the highest-ever rhythm dance score at a U.S. Championships, earning 92.17 points.

The score also marks a new personal best as they topped the standings following the rhythm dance by almost nine points.

The Montreal-based team is undefeated this season and hasn’t lost an event since the 2022 Grand Prix Final.

Chock and Bates’ rendition of their rhythm dance to Queen hits was sophisticated, relaxed and perfectly on point to the music.

“Queen is such a legendary band; we’ve loved their music for a long time,” Chock said. “If I was born in the 80s I would have gone to a concert, but this is as close to that concert feeling as we could get. Being able to perform to their beautiful music kind of gives me chills sometimes when I think about their band and how iconic they are.”

Their opening midline step sequence earned 13.21 points and had a GOE of 4.63, while their pattern dance type step sequence was awarded 13.71 points – the highest marks of the competition. The team’s program components all were 9.5 and above.

“It’s always special getting to compete at the U.S. Championships,” Chock said. “It has such a unique energy. To be able to perform in front of a home crowd with the electricity. We really enjoyed every moment on the ice today.”

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko channeled another iconic performer, Stevie Nicks, to a second-place finish.

The 2023 U.S. bronze medalists posted a personal best score of 83.19, nearly five points better than their previous best score. They opened up with two Level 4 elements, a pattern dance type step sequence and sequential twizzles, that both scored more than 10 points.

“We’ve been working hard, and I think that showed what we’ve been working on,” Carreira said. “Last year we didn’t quite have the skates we wanted at nationals, so this year we wanted to have a different approach and finish the day happy with our skates regardless of the scores.”

Carreira and Ponomarenko, who now train in Canada, enjoyed a successful autumn season, placing fourth at both of their Grand Prix events. They credited their new coaching team for the progress they’ve made.

“This coaching team is awesome, and we are happy every day that we made the move,” Ponomarenko said.

Caroline Green and Michael Parsons, who train in Canton, Michigan, posted a score of 80.91 to claim third place. They skated to a Scorpions’ medley.

The defending U.S. silver medalists arrived in Columbus having placed third and fourth in their Grand Prix Series events and riding a wave of momentum.

Green and Parsons changed their short program music earlier in the fall and have spent the last few months working on details and getting everything synched up and seamless.

“This is the most prepared we have been for any competition this season,” Parsons said. “The practices, the warmup and the program, I thought we felt very grounded.”

Emily Bratti and Ian Somerville are fourth with 78.14 points.

Levito, Glenn Go 1-2 in Tight Race
Both at the top of their game, Favorites Isabeau Levito and Amber Glenn finished first and second, respectively, after the short program.

Levito, the defending U.S. titlist, posted a personal best score of 75.38. She debuted a new short program, set to “Nella Fantasia” by Jackie Evancho.

The reigning U.S. champion kicked off her program with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop for 11.62 points. She received all positive grades of execution as well as Level 4s for two of her spins and a Level 4 for her footwork. Her program components also topped the field.

“With my snake program, I felt there was so much potential to it and I was just a little bit unhappy with how I was performing with it, so I decided to give myself more time to work on that style of dance and go in with a different program for nationals because it’s such an important event for me,” Levito said. “I decided to go with a different short program for this event and give me time to perfect the snake.”

Glenn, the defending U.S. silver medalist, put out a stellar, and clean, program of her own to “Heads Will Roll” by Elephant Music and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

She produced a personal best score of 74.98. Her program highlights included an opening triple flip-triple toe loop that generated 11.32 points. Glenn received all Level 4s for her spins and footwork.

“I had a really good time, especially in the step sequence. I really felt the crowd behind me and just had an overall enjoyable experience,” Glenn said.

With their strong performances, Levito and Glenn rank seventh and eighth on the list of best short program scores in the history of the U.S. Championships.

Clare Seo, the 2022 U.S. junior champion, set a new personal best score of 67.41 and finished third in the short program.

Seo landed an opening triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, and her three spins received Level 4s.

“I tried to focus on myself,” Seo said. “I think my elements were well executed, so I’m really happy with that. I’m also happy with my components. Since sectionals, I’ve been working on my program a lot with my ballet teacher and that worked out well.”

Lindsay Thorngren sits fourth with 65.33 points.

Chan and Howe Finish on Top in Pairs Short
Having missed the entire season due to injury, Emily Chan and Spencer Howe made a successful season debut by winning the championship pairs short program.

Their score of 65.86 was just one point off from their personal best score achieved at the 2023 U.S. Championships, in which they claimed the silver.

“As most of you know, we’ve experienced a lot of challenges heading into this competition and we weren’t sure we would be here at all, so for us to be here where we are sitting is a huge blessing,” Howe said. “I know you’ve heard us use blessing a lot, but It’s true. It’s refreshing to be back.”

Howe underwent shoulder surgery last spring and the rehabilitation has taken months, with the team having to forgo the summer events and Grand Prix season.

In Columbus, the Boston-based team showed they are on the road back with an opening Level 4 triple twist. They received a Level 4 for their lift and spin and earned the highest component scores for their Elvis Presley program.

The team finished last season as the U.S. silver medalists, fifth at the World Championships and second at the Four Continents Championships. The also placed at both of their 2022 Grand Prix events and qualified for the Grand Prix Final.

Second-year team Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea secured second place with their performance to music from East of Eden.

A fall on their throw triple loop was the only major blemish in an otherwise solid program that opened with a strong triple twist and included a Level 4 lift.

“Pretty mixed,” O’Shea said of the team’s overall performance. “We’ve been performing well at home and the throws have been going well the past month or so; we felt we had made a breakthrough with them, feeling confident. We hit one in the warmup. Unfortunately, I think it was my mistake that she didn’t have her best takeoff in the program. We are excited to show it off in long.”

Kam and O’Shea, the 2023 U.S. bronze medalists, posted a score of 64.57 and sit in good position to earn a U.S. title on Saturday night.

The team experienced highs and lows during the late summer and Grand Prix season, winning Finlandia Trophy but having to withdraw from Grand Prix de France because of injury. They came back at the end of the Grand Prix season to compete at Grand Prix Espoo, finishing sixth.

First-year team Katie McBeath and Danill Parkman are in medal position, sitting third following their nearly clean short program performed to “Requiem for a Dream” by Clint Mansell.

McBeath, who hails from Cleveland, and Parkman, who is from Russia, qualified for the U.S. Championships by placing first at the U.S. Pairs Final.

The team, which trains in Irvine, California, posted a score of 64.21 – a new personal best. They received Level 4 for their spin, spiral and lift.

“We made some improvements from the [U.S.] Pairs Final, got some levels,” said McBeath, who noted she’s been thrilled to be at home competing in front of family and friends. “We skated nice and strong today.”

Valentina Plazas and Maximiliano Fernandez are fourth, posting a score of 63.18.

Cool and Collected, Higase-Chen Wins Junior Women’s Gold
Logan Higase-Chen’s balletic performance to music from Snow White and the Huntsman earned the Colorado Springs, Colorado, skater the free skate crown and her first U.S. title in the junior women’s event.

“I was really nervous, but once the music started I was fine,” said Higase-Chen, who qualified for the Columbus event having won the 2024 Midwestern Sectional Singles Final in November.

Third after the short program, Higase-Chen began her free skate by successfully landing a triple flip-triple toe loop combination. She landed a total of six triple jumps, including three in combination worth more than 11 points. Her two combination jumping passes in the second half of the program combined for nearly 20 points, and she received Level 4s on all three spins and top marks for her choreographic sequence.

Her performance was awarded a score of 119.70 and her overall total was 178.42.

“After the opening triple-triple, everything was easier,” she said.

Higase-Chen felt prepared for the event and had worked a lot with her ballet coach on and off the ice. Her goals were to land her triple-triple and improve her components and expression.

“Moving forward, I feel more prepared now,” Higase-Chen said. “I’m more comfortable.”

Keira Hilbelink, sixth after the short program, stormed into second place with her entertaining program to a version of the iconic song “What a Wonderful World.”

Hilbelink, who trains in Irvine, California, repeated as the junior silver medalist, posting a free skate score of 116.85 and an overall total of 173.88, both personal bests.

“Sometimes when you’re skating, a lot of people just close their mind off,” Hilbelink said. “But with the audience, when they scream loudly, it kind of opens it [mind up] up and you connect not only with the audience but skating in general.”

Hilbelink landed seven triple jumps, including an opening triple flip-triple toe loop combination that generated 12.01 points. She also received Level 4 for two of her three spins.

Short program leader Cleo Park placed fourth in the free skate with a score of 111.60 and with a personal best overall score of 172.41 to secure the bronze medal in her first U.S. Championships appearance.

Park, who trains in Anaheim, California, performed to music from The Lion King. Despite experiencing issues with several jumping passes, she recorded the highest-scoring element of the competition – a triple Lutz-double Axel-double Axel sequence.

Her favorite elements came at the very end of her program, she said.

“The choreo sequence into the spin, because I’m done with my jump and the big finale is next where I can show that I can also perform,” Park said.

Emilia Nemirovsky captured the pewter medal at her first U.S. Championships, placing fifth in the free skate with a score of 164.38 and finishing with an overall score of 164.38 – both personal bests at a U.S. qualifying competition. The skater from Michigan performed to “Love Story” by Lola Astanova and Hauser.

Nemirovsky, who finished first in the novice division of the Midwestern Sectional Singles Final in November, entered the free skate in second place.

“I was grateful for making it on the podium and having the audience behind me as I pushed and made it to the end,” Nemirovsky said.  “It wasn’t perfect but was good enough.”

Although she finished ninth, Sophie Joline von Felton made history at the competition, becoming the first junior woman to land a triple Axel at the U.S. Championships.

Competition continues Friday with the women’s free skate and men’s short program.

Visit the 2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships event page for live results, news and how to watch.