Courtesy U.S. Figure Skating/Jay Adeff
Mariah Bell skated off with the ladies title at 2020 Skate America ahead of silver medalist Bradie Tennell and Audrey Shin who claimed the bronze in her Grand Prix debut.
Last to skate in the free, Bell opened her program set to an Abba medley with a double Axel-triple loop combination, followed by a triple loop. She went on to land a triple Salchow, a triple flip and two triple-double combinations, but near the end of her program took a tumble on a triple Lutz attempt. Bell ranked fourth in the free skate, but remained in first overall on the strength of her short program score and claimed the gold with 212.73 points.
“It was a little shaky and I felt a little bit stiff but I was excited to get my long program out in a competition setting, and I had a really great time,” said Bell. “I try not to look too much at outcomes, more how I feel and I am walking away from this performance a little disappointed. I look back at nationals and that was a program I was really proud of so, at the end of the day, regardless of the result I want to walk away feeling good about what I did.”
When asked about her choice of music for the free, Bell said that though it is “out of my comfort zone” she feels natural doing it. “I have been working really hard on it. I have a lot of room to grow. I feel it will be a program that will be really special to me, but it is going to take more time than a slower program would.”
Tennell won the free skate with a strong performance to “Sarajevo” and “Dawn of Faith” but it was not without its technical issues. The back end of a triple Lutz-triple toe combination was hit with an under-rotation, midway through the program she put her hand down on the landing of a triple Salchow and two other jumps on the back end of combinations received a “q.” Tennell made up for those errors by earning Level 4s for her spins and step sequence and finished second overall with 211.07 points.
“I am really happy with how today went. I think it was a really good first showing of this program. There is room to go and I am excited to continue working on it,” Tennell said. “I have had a lot of things thrown at me over the last month and a half that impacted my training, so to be able to come out and compete like that for the first time in eight months, I feel really great. There is a lot of room to grow and I am really happy with what I did today.”
Sitting in a surprising third after the short program, Audrey Shin confirmed that result was not a one shot deal when she laid down a solid performance in the free that took her to bronze in her senior debut. An under-rotation call for a triple toe on the back end of a two jump combination was her only technical error. Ranked third in the free skate, Shin finished in third place with 206.15 points.
“To be honest, in the back of my mind (after the short program) I kept thinking I really want to be on the podium, but I tried not think about it too much so it did not affect my long program,” the 16-year-old said. “Today I took it as a new day and I took each element one at a time. I knew I could put out two clean programs. When I was training in Colorado Springs I worked on doing clean run-throughs every day.
“During the time off I focused on what I really love to do and that is skating. Coming back to training I felt more motivated to improve and felt that this is my time to perform well. I worked really hard on trying to perform the best that I could here.”
Shin has made major strides since her appearances on the Junior Grand Prix circuit in 2019. The teenager explained that last year was a difficult one, which began with ankle surgery on her right ankle in May. “I took a few months off and once I got back on I had a lot of boot and blade issues. After the Youth Olympic Games I kept working on getting clean jumps and consistency. Getting those clean jumps in competition was a big goal of mine.
“During the time off because of COVID I did a lot of ice training in the park. When I got back on ice it took a few weeks to get my jumps back. Once everything started to feel better I started to make new programs. My coach, Tammy Gambill, made me do a bunch of run-throughs for the Peggy Fleming Trophy (in the summer) and ever since then I have been training programs over and over again, so they are feeling a lot more comfortable now.”
Karen Chen ranked second in the free, but finished fourth overall with 204.90. Amber Glenn placed fifth with 190.09. Shan Lin, an American who now competes for China, was sixth (182.11).
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