The opening night of 2020 Skate America gave fans worldwide many reasons to cheer with first-class skating in all four disciplines, particularly in the ladies and men’s competitions.
Nathan Chen is on a mission to claim a fourth consecutive Skate America title and there will be no barriers in achieving that goal. He kicked of his 2020-2021 campaign laying down a solid performance in his Flamenco-themed short program set to “Asturias” and “Canción de Mariachi.” The 21-year-old sailed through the routine, executing a quad toe-triple toe combination, a quad flip, a triple Axel and earned Level-4 for his spins and step sequence. His efforts were rewarded with a score of 111.17 points. “I’m pretty happy with where I am, given the unusual circumstances what is going on,” Chen said. “The program itself is new to me and there is still a lot of work and improvement to be done with this sort of style. Although it is Latin-American as well as Spanish music, I am not trying to necessarily hit the identical movements of those dances, but more trying to bring out the character of the movie that it is drawing inspiration from.”
Vincent Zhou, who parted ways with Canadian coach Lee Barkell in the off-season, is now training full time with Christy Krall in Colorado Springs and Japan′s Mie Hamada virtually. His short program, “Vincent” (“Starry Starry Night”) by Josh Groban, featured a quad Lutz-triple toe combination, a quad Salchow, a triple Axel and a Level-4 flying camel spin. Zhou sits in second with 99.36 points. “I think I did a great job, especially with the components, the projection, and the performance,” he said. “I am proud of what I did tonight. I had some shaky practices, mentally maybe not the best day, but I got it together.”
Keegan Messing, who is the only Canadian competing on the Grand Prix this year, has kept his short program from last season (“Perfect” by Ed Sheeran). The 28-year-old Alaskan native landed a triple Axel and a triple Lutz, but was unsteady on the quad toe in combination and had a slip during the footwork. He finished third with 92.40 points. “I was overall very excited about how my performance went, this being the first time I’ve skated in front of a crowd this year. I am just stoked that we were able to have a competition here. I didn’t realize how much I missed having butterflies in my stomach. This program was not just for me. It was for Nam Nguyen and all of Team Canada.”
Tomoki Hiwatashi sits in fourth with 87.17 points. Ilia Malinin and Maxim Naumov, fresh out of the junior ranks, were both impressive in their senior debuts. Malinin placed seventh (76.75) ahead of Naumov who finished in eighth place with 70.91.
Mariah Bell took top honors in the ladies short program with a strong competition debut of her “Glitter in the Air” by Pink routine. The 24-year-old landed a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, and earned 76.48 points for her efforts.
“This is an interesting situation that we’re all in, but we are so fortunate for all of the hard work that everyone has put in to make this possible and keep everybody safe. Even if there wasn’t a crowd I really enjoyed performing and it was so fun to be back in a little bit of the competition atmosphere.”
The 24-year-old revealed the costume she wore was actually the one made for her free skate. “My short program costume did not fit well, and I didn’t have a back up so I just thought, my long program costume sits well, so I’ll just wear that. It will be round two tomorrow.”
Bradie Tennell laid down a solid showing of her new short program, “Moderation” by Florence + the Machine. She sits is in second with 73.29 points. Tennell landed all her jumps and earned three Level 4 spins. The 22-year-old landed all the planned jumps but under-rotated the back end of a triple Lutz-triple toe combination. “We are all so grateful to be here and that we have this opportunity,” she said. “I also had a really great time performing today. It’s been so long since we’ve been able to go out there and skate our programs for people. Even if they are not here in person with us, we appreciate all the support they give us from afar.”
The surprise of the night was Audrey Shin, the 2019 U.S. junior silver medalist, who made a splash in her senior debut. First out of the gate, Shin laid down a rock-solid performance to “The Giving” by Michael W. Smith. She held on to first place throughout the competition until Bell and Tennell took to the ice. Shin sits in third with 69.77 points. “I had a great time performing at my first senior Grand Prix,” said the 16-year-old high school student. “I was just really excited getting back out there and start competing again. Coming in, I prepared very well. I will just focus on the long program, taking one element at a time.”
MARIAH BELL CLAIMS SKATE AMERICA CROWN
FOURTH SKATE AMERICA TITLE FOR CHEN
GOLDEN DEBUT FOR SCIMECA KNIERIM & FRAZIER
HUBBELL & DONOHUE STRIKE GOLD IN LAS VEGAS
SKATE AMERICA OPENS ON A HIGH NOTE
2020 SKATE AMERICA
2020 GRAND PRIX SERIES