Zhou takes advantage of Chen’s struggles at Skate America

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Amber Glenn performs in the women’s short program at the Skate America figure skating event on Saturday, October 23, 2021 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo / David Becker)

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As Nathan Chen struggled at Skate America, Vincent Zhou won his first major title to show the United States has two legitimate men’s medal hopes at the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

Until Saturday night, Chen, 22, had won every competition he had competed in since March 2018. That streak ended at age 14.

With two of his weakest performances of the Olympic quadrennial, Chen won the bronze medal at the Orleans Arena with a total of 269.37.

“I really think there needs to be more thinking,” Chen said of his skates. “I don’t have a perfect answer right away. This is definitely something that will be a priority for me.

Zhou, 2019 world bronze medalist, won with 295.56 points for the first Grand Prix victory of his career.

Reigning Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan took the silver in Vegas, narrowly edging Chen with 270.68 points. It is the first Uno Grand Prix medal in three years.

Zhou’s victory has been what he’s been looking for for a long time – probably since winning the world junior title in 2017 – but especially since the 2021 World Championships in March, when he executed a short program so poorly that he finished 25th and failed to qualify for the free. skate.

“I don’t think it’s swallowed up yet,” Zhou said of his first Grand Prix victory. “I wasn’t really expecting this result, but what I expected from myself was to be as well prepared and trained as possible, and I think focusing on that every day at home has leads to making the impossible possible … I hope this is a recurring theme this season.

Three Russian teenage girls are chasing Skate America medals and have a hold on the podium after the women’s short program.

Alexandra Trusova, reigning bronze medalist at the world championships and favorite before the competition, led with 77.69 points for her “Frida” program.

“I skated cleanly, but I didn’t do my triple axel, so I hope I can do it next time,” said Trusova.

The 17-year-old suffered from a foot injury, but she still chose to compete and set up a program that included a double axel opening and three triple jumps.

“There was a decision between not skating and competing, but this morning I woke up and felt I could try it,” she added.

Skating on “The Greatest Showman” “Never Enough”, 15-year-old Daria Usacheva scored 76.71 points for second place on court. Saturday marked his senior international debut.

“I am particularly happy to have been able to open up and skate with emotions,” commented Usacheva.

Kseniia Sinitsyna, 17, got 71.51 for third place after missing last year’s Grand Prix season with injury.

A handful of athletes are able to catch up with the Russians, led by Kaori Sakamoto of Japan who is fourth with 71.16 points.

Amber Glenn, the reigning American silver medalist, is the best American in seventh place with 67.57 points.

Bradie Tennell, the 2021 United States champion, retired from Skate America last week with a foot injury.

The Russian team of Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov won the pairs competition with a score of 222.5 points for both programs. This is their first Grand Prix victory in three seasons; they finished fourth at the world championships last season.

“Today has been a long and difficult day,” said Morozov. “It wasn’t perfect, but it was a good step forward.”

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara finished second (208.2) for their first career Grand Prix medal and Skate America’s first medal by a Japanese pairs team, while 2021 world bronze medalists Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii of Russia slipped from second to third (205.53) with errors in their free skate.

Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier moved from fifth to fourth place with the second best free skate of the evening. Only they and the winning Russian team completed their free skates with zero falls.

American ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue led after the rhythmic dance.

The 2018 Olympians are on course for a fourth straight victory over Skate America, although only 1.03 points separate them from their training mates and longtime contenders Madison Chock and Evan Bates.

Hubbell and Donohue scored 83.58 points for their Janet Jackson medley performance, which included music from “Nasty”, “Rope Burn” and “Rhythm Nation”. Chock and Bates got 82.55 for their hip hop / blues program Billie Eillish.

Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorenson, who skate for Canada, were third —- seven points behind with 75.33 for their IM of George Michael.

“The thing that came to my mind about this performance was really to be aware while it was going on how the crowd was reacting,” said Hubbell, after spending most of last season without a crowd due to the pandemic. “I would say it wasn’t the most applause we’ve ever had, but it was like that. It was welcome after a year of silence.

The women’s and ice dance competitions end on Sunday.


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