Photo credit Melanie Heaney/U.S. Figure Skating
Amber Glenn nailed a triple Axel and proved once again that perseverance and hard work pays off as she clinched her first senior U.S. title Friday at the 2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
Glenn was joined on the podium by two first-time senior medalists at the U.S. Championships: Josephine Lee with silver and Sarah Everhardt with pewter. Isabeau Levito, the 2023 U.S. champion, secured the bronze.
In the men’s short program, Ilia Malinin dominated the competition. With back-to-back quad jumps, the phenom from Virginia enters Sunday’s free skate in the driver’s seat for a second U.S. title.
Glenn Gets Better with Time, Wins First Senior Title
Ten years ago, Amber Glenn stood on the podium as the U.S. junior champion at age 14. A decade later, the Texas native stands atop the podium again as the 2024 U.S. women’s champion.
Glenn ignited the crowd with an opening triple Axel, hitting the jump in competition for the second time this season. Although she fought through a couple of rough patches with her intended triple Lutz and triple flip, she finished strong with back-to-back Level 4 spins and an electric choreo sequence.
Skating second to the last in the field of 18 women, Glenn posted an overall score of 210.46. Her free skate to “Exogenesis: Symphony, Part 3: Redemption Song” by Muse generated 135.48 points, second only to U.S. silver medalist Josephine Lee’s 138.85. The performance included six triple jumps and Level 4s on all of her spins and footwork.
“It’s absolutely incredible to have this experience; it’s still not real to me,” Glenn said. “It’s kind of the same feeling I had at Skate America, knowing that this is such a huge success for me but that I’m capable of so much more. I’m grateful for the results but know I can do so much better.”
Glenn, the 2023 U.S. bronze medalist, said she used her experience when things started to unravel a bit.
“Obviously there were some highs and lows,” Glenn, who trains in Colorado Springs, said. “I was trying to figure out how to settle myself halfway through and to trust myself and not doubt my capabilities. Having this result here probably helps a lot. I’ll be doing it again in six days [at Four Continents].”
In looking back on this past decade, Glenn is thankful for the heartbreak as well as the wisdom she has gained.
“Of course I would I like to go back in time and be able to give the knowledge I have now to my younger self and save myself a lot of heartache and pain,” Glenn said. “I’ve been through what I’ve been through, I’m stronger and wiser because of it. I want to continue to grow and improve. It means so much to me everything I’ve gone through last 10 years.”
Lee, 15, reeled off the best free skate of the night, performing a flawless routine to “Poeta en el Viento” by Vicente Amigo. Her free skate score and overall total of 204.13 crushed her previous personal-best scores.
Her triple flip-double Axel-double Axel sequence halfway through the program generated a whopping 14.00 points.
Lee, who trains in Lakewood, California, finished fifth at the 2023 U.S. Championships and qualified for this year’s event by winning the Pacific Coast Sectional Singles Final in November.
“I was told before I skated that it was going to be a sold-out stadium, but didn’t expect it to be like that,” said Lee, who earned her first senior U.S. Championships medal after winning bronze in the junior event in 2022. “I remember walking out when the second group was on and thinking how am I going to do this. I can’t do this because there are so many people. But when I got on ice it didn’t feel as big.”
Lee said she had been running clean programs, but was still nervous because she wanted to take the momentum from the short program into the free skate.
“I knew I had nothing to lose, but because I had better placement than last year [she was 11th after the short program in 2023] it felt like going from fifth I didn’t want to mess up and move down place,” Lee said.
The reigning U.S. champion entering the competition, Isabeau Levito, who trains in New Jersey, struggled early, falling on her opening triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination. The rest of her performance to music from The White Crow by Lisa Batiashvili had its ups and downs.
“I was so shaky and nervous for this event,” Levito, 16, said. “It’s so tough going in trying to defend the title. I think when I made that first mistake, I was like we’ll see how it goes. I pulled myself together for another couple of minutes and then obviously I don’t even have any recollection of how I went down on my flip or my loop. At least I didn’t mess up on my spins today. I’m happy about that.”
Levito posted the fourth-best free skate score of 125.30 and an overall total of 200.68.
Sarah Everhardt, 17, delivered personal-best scores in the free skate, 130.16 and overall, 193.17, to claim the pewter medal – her first-ever U.S. Championships medal.
She skated to “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
“The whole season I haven't done a clean long, so I'm really glad I pulled it together,” she said. “The crowd here is awesome. There's so many people cheering for me. It's my first time skating for an awesome crowd and its really cool."
Everhardt, who trains in Reston, Virginia, qualified for the U.S. Championships by winning the 2024 Eastern Sectional Singles Final in November.
In addition, earlier in the evening, Mia Kalin performed the first clean quad ever in the senior women’s event at the U.S. Championships.
Malinin Dazzles the Crowd in Columbus
Fans in Columbus got exactly what they hoped for at the end of the men’s short program – a spectacular show from defending U.S. men’s champion Ilia Malinin.
The 19-year-old Virigina phenom dazzled the Nationwide Arena crowd with two skyrocketing quad jumps and an array of effortless-looking spins and footwork en route to a score of 108.57.
The mark is the seventh-highest score in the men’s short program in the history of the U.S. Championships.
His performance to “Malagueña” by Roni Benise – which didn’t include his signature quad Axel — put Malinin in the driver’s seat to defend his title on Sunday as he’ll enter the free skate with an advantage of nearly 19 points. His all-time best U.S. score is 110.36, which he achieved at the 2023 U.S. Championships. Olympic Champion Nathan Chen holds the all-time U.S. record score of 115.39 (2022).
“After that performance, I was just relieved and very excited I was able to get through it knowing that the past few weeks I’ve had a couple of boot malfunctions, a couple of boot problems, so it’s really great that I was able to go out there and get into that zone and pull out everything and stay on my feet,” said Malinin, who received positive grades of execution on every element.
Malinin credited the energy from the audience to push him at the end of his performance.
The 2023 Grand Prix Final champion opened with a quad toe loop and a quad Lutz-triple toe loop combination, both done with high quality, receiving GOEs of 3.94 and 2.63, respectively. The two elements together were awarded nearly 32 points.
Malinin’s artistry was also on full display. He earned the highest component scores of the competition with program component marks for composition, presentation and skating skills all above 9.18.
The performance aspect of his skating, he said, has dramatically improved since the start of the season under renowned choreographer Shae-Lynn Bourne.
“I’ve tried to push myself out of my comfort zone to focus to really try to focus on that area specifically, and I think that with the whole season, especially today’s performance, I definitely noticed a huge difference in how I skated,” Malinin said.
The race for positions two through four is tight with less than two points separating the three competitors.
Maxim Naumov rolled to a personal best score of 89.72 and into second place.
“I have to ground myself, because it’s just the short so I still have more I have to do,” Naumov said. “I’m just trying to stay focused, trying to control my emotions, but I feel good. It’s been a tough couple of months, so I’m just glad I was able to stay focused and stay in the right head space.”
A Boston native, Naumov opened his performance to "Glimpse of Us" by Joji by landing a quad Salchow worth 12.47 points. He also cleanly executed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop in the second half of the program and received Level 4 on his spins and step sequence.
Naumov said his mental state has been in “good and bad spaces” these past few months following a 10th-place finish at Skate America.
“I was talking to someone about this a few days ago and came to the realization that this year has been more about me finding out about myself, what works for me, where I can be most effective as possible in my day-to-day training,” Naumov said. “I’ve had consistency issues the past few months. I’ve been working with a sports psychologist on consistency and mental head spaces and discovering ways to get through barriers and obstacles.”
Except for a fall on his opening triple Axel, fan favorite Jason Brown showcased his signature skating and performance skills en route to a score of 89.02 and third place. The 29-year-old, two-time Olympian excited the crowd with his performance to “Adios” by Benjamin Clementine.
“I felt the love, despite that opening jump,” Brown said. “It’s never great to start with a fall, but it’s such a great learning experience to not let it faze you, get up and keep going. That’s the sport. Disappointed with that, but happy with rest of it.”
Brown, the defending U.S. silver medalist, landed the triple Axel in practice and in the warmup and said he won’t dwell on it moving forward. In Friday’s program, he skated clean following the fall, nailing his triple Lutz-triple toe and secured the second-highest component scores of the night.
Andrew Torgashev, the defending U.S. bronze medalist, is fourth with 88.02 points.
Competition continues Saturday as U.S. champions are named in the ice dance and pairs events.
Follow live, view streaming information and more by checking out the 2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships event page.