Tag: Yulia Lipnitskaya

Max Aaron
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Surprise U.S. leader at Skate America

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A U.S. champion is in great position to end the home drought at Skate America, but it’s neither Gracie Gold nor Jason Brown.

Max Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion who just missed the Sochi Olympics, cleanly landed all of his jumps, including a quadruple toe loop in combination, to lead after the short program in Milwaukee on Friday.

“I’ve been waiting for it to happen,” Aaron said in a U.S. Figure Skating video. “I just changed my mental game around, my competing around. I want to be back on top. I want to make the World [Championships] team again. I want to be that guy that’s reliable.”

The Olympic team bronze medalists Gold and Brown erred on jumps and were second and eighth, respectively, in the women’s and men’s standings.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air the women’s free skate Saturday from 5-6 p.m. ET. The men’s free skate is later Saturday. NBCSN will air coverage Sunday from 10-11:30 p.m. ET.

Aaron scored a personal-best 86.67 points and leads by .14 of a point over China’s Han Yan in the Grand Prix series opener. It’s a step toward a comeback for the 23-year-old former hockey player.

Aaron set himself up to make his first Olympic team by winning the 2013 U.S. title but fell to third at the 2014 U.S. Championships, missing the two-man Sochi team, and fourth at last season’s U.S. Championships, missing the three-man World Championships team.

Now Aaron could notch the biggest international victory of his career and the first Grand Prix title for an American man since 2011. The last U.S. man to win Skate America was Evan Lysacek in 2009.

The pre-competition favorites all faltered in the men’s short program.

Shoma Uno, the World junior champion from Japan, and Denis Ten, the Olympic and World bronze medalist from Kazakhstan, both fell on quadruple toe loops and sit fourth and sixth, respectively.

Brown, the reigning U.S. champion who was fourth at Worlds, singled the second half of a jump combination and is in eighth place.

“I look at it as a learning experience,” Brown said in a U.S. Figure Skating video. “Now I’m going to take it with me.”

Gold doubled a planned triple flip and is 5.53 points behind reigning World junior champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia.

“I think maybe I just lost a little bit of my attack,” Gold told media. “Really been working on coming out of the gate strong. I do clean shorts in practice … just a slip-up.”

VIDEOS: Evgenia Medvedeva | Gracie Gold

World silver medalist Satoko Miyahara of Japan was third, followed by U.S. bronze medalist Karen Chen and Yulia Lipnitskaya, the Russian darling of the Sochi Olympic team event.

Gold, 20, and Chen, 16, are trying to become the first U.S. woman to win Skate America since Ashley Wagner in 2012.

The reigning Olympic and World champions on the men’s and women’s sides — Yuzuru HanyuJavier FernandezAdelina Sotnikova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva — are not competing at Skate America.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Full 2015-16 broadcast schedule

U.S. champions hope to end Skate America droughts

Gracie Gold
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It’s been three years since a U.S. woman won Skate America and six for the men, but Gracie GoldJason Brown and Max Aaron hope to end the drought for home skaters at the U.S.’ biggest annual international event this weekend.

Gold, Brown and Aaron, who all own U.S. titles, each seek their first Skate America crowns in Milwaukee. Short programs for all four disciplines are Friday. The long programs are all Saturday.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air coverage Saturday from 5-6 p.m. ET. NBCSN will air coverage Sunday from 10-11:30 p.m. ET.

Gold, 20, finished third last year, behind Russians Yelena Radionova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who would go on to be the two most consistent women in the world in 2014-15 and take two places on the World Championships podium.

Gold’s chances in Milwaukee are boosted by the absence of top Russians this year. Yulia Lipnitskaya, the darling of the Sochi Olympic team event who dropped to ninth at last season’s Russian Championships, leads the Russian entries at Skate America.

Like Lipnitskaya, Gold has much to prove.

Though she’s been consistent on the major international championship stage — fourth at the 2014 Olympics and sixth, fifth and fourth at the last three Worlds — Gold relinquished her U.S. title to Ashley Wagner in January.

Then she struggled three weeks ago at the Japan Open team event, a free skate-only competition that’s closer to an exhibition than a Grand Prix like Skate America. Gold was last among a decorated six-skater field.

Another woman in the Skate America field, Japan’s World silver medalist Satoko Miyahara, outscored Gold by 20.14 points in the Japan Open.

If a non-American wins Skate America, it will match the longest U.S. women’s drought in the competition’s history.

MORE: Gracie Gold eyes rebound after crumbling in Japan

The men’s field is arguably deeper, with two of the last three U.S. champions in Brown and Aaron, plus Olympic and World bronze medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan.

But the most anticipated skater is Japan’s Shoma Uno, a 17-year-old making his Grand Prix Series debut. Uno swept the World Junior Championship and Junior Grand Prix Final last season and was second to Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu at Japan’s senior national championships.

Uno then dusted the field at the Japan Open, including World champions Javier Fernandez and Patrick Chan, with a program that included two quadruple jumps earlier this month.

Brown, who won last season’s U.S. Championships and was fourth at Worlds, re-added a quadruple toe loop to his program in winning a small event in Slovakia three weeks ago to open his season.

Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion who just missed the team for the 2014 Olympics and 2015 Worlds, has finished no better than third in his Grand Prix series career.

A win for either Brown or Aaron at Skate America would mark the first Grand Prix title for a U.S. man since Jeremy Abbott claimed the Cup of China in 2011.

If an American does not win for a sixth straight year, it will break the record for longest U.S. men’s drought at Skate America.

The U.S. entries also include defending Skate America ice dance champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who are the reigning World silver medalists.

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Ashley Wagner denies Russian sweep at Grand Prix Final (video)

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Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won the Grand Prix Final, her biggest career victory, but could not lead a historic Russian sweep, due to Ashley Wagner‘s impressive free skate in Barcelona on Saturday.

Wagner, who is 23 and more than four years older than the rest of the six-woman field, improved from last place after the short program to win bronze with a clean free skate, landing seven triple jumps, including two combinations.

Russian Yelena Radionova, the two-time reigning World junior champion who was too young for the Olympics, won silver, 4.84 points behind Tuktamysheva.

Wagner, who won Grand Prix final silver in 2012 and bronze in 2013, became the fifth woman to win medals at three straight Grand Prix Finals in the competition’s 20-year history. She joined Irina SlutskayaMichelle KwanMao Asada and Yuna Kim, all of whom won at least silver at the Olympics.

“People keep asking why I’m sticking around, and I have so many people who are doubting if I’m capable of being competitive,” Wagner said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “This is what I know I’m capable of.”

Wagner jumped over Russian teens Yulia Lipnitskaya and Anna Pogorilaya and Japan’s Rika Hongo in the free skate. Russia, which held spots one through four after the short program, was bidding for the first Grand Prix Final women’s sweep and second across all disciplines.

Tuktamysheva, 17, became the second woman in the last five years to win the Grand Prix Final after finishing 10th at her national championships the previous season. American Alissa Czisny also accomplished the bounce-back feat in 2010.

Wagner scored 129.26 points Saturday, just .26 off her career best free skate set at the World Championships in March, where she was seventh, just as in Sochi.

Wagner was the only American woman in the Grand Prix Final after Gracie Gold withdrew last week due to a small stress fracture in her foot.

Wagner, the 2012 and 2013 U.S. champion, figures to battle Gold, the 2014 U.S. champion, at the national championships in January. Three women will make the U.S. team for the World Championships in March.

Russian is also set to send three women to the World Championships, where it could sweep the medals. The only World Championships women’s sweep came in 1991, when Kristi YamaguchiTonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan pulled it off.

Russian Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova could return for Russia’s national championships in two weeks after missing the Grand Prix season with a torn ankle ligament.

Earlier in pairs, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford topped the free skate to win Canada’s first Grand Prix Final pairs gold since Jamie Sale and David Pelletier in 2001, three months before Sale and Pelletier shared Olympic gold amid the Salt Lake City Olympic judging controversy.

Duhamel and Radford landed their first quad Salchow in competition and beat Olympic and World silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia.

“Our goal here was to stand on the podium,” Duhamel said. “So to win was a bonus.”

The pairs competition was missing Russian Olympic champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov, who sat out this Grand Prix season due to Trankov’s shoudler injury. German World champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are no longer competing due to Szolkowy’s retirement.

NBC will air Grand Prix Final coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Hanyu repeats as Grand Prix Final winner

Gold: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) — 203.58
Silver: Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 198.74
Bronze: Ashley Wagner (USA) — 189.5
4. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 180.29
5. Yulia Lipnitskaya (RUS) — 177.79
6. Rika Honga (JPN) — 176.13

Gold: Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 220.72
Silver: Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 213.72
Bronze: Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 194.31
4. Peng Cheng/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 191.79
5. Yu Xiaoyu/Jin Yang (CHN) — 187.79
6. Yuko Kavaguti/Aleksander Smirnov (RUS) — 184.54

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