Meryl Davis, Charlie White

Meryl Davis/Charlie White lead at Skate America; surprising U.S. men’s results

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Michigan ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White were stellar in their first performance in Detroit in over 10 years, while an American shakeup highlighted the men’s short program at Skate America on Friday night.

Davis and White, the reigning Olympic silver medalists and world champions, scored a first-place 75.70 points in the short dance at Joe Louis Arena (full results below).

They skated to “My Fair Lady.” “Dancing with the Stars” star Derek Hough helped choreograph their programs for the Olympic season.

Their biggest rivals for gold at the Sochi Olympics, Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, are not in the field.

The ice dancers followed a head-scratching men’s debut in the first Grand Prix meet of the season.

A Japanese man, but not the one many expected, leads a field of eight going into Saturday’s free skate.

Tatsuki Machida, the least accomplished of three Japanese men entered, looked the most impressive and tallied 91.18 points.

Second place was also a surprise. Illinois’ Jason Brown recorded a hand-over-mouth personal best 83.78 points.

Believe it, Jason Brown. Great job! #SA2013

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Brown, 18 and a two-time world junior medalist, only made it into Skate America via Evan Lysacek‘s withdrawal with a hip injury Sept. 30. It’s his second career senior international event.

He did not attempt a quadruple jump skating to Prince’s “The Question of U,” landing a clean triple axel and a triple-triple combination while most of his competitors had trouble completing four-revolution jumps.

“I performed like I’ve been training, and that’s really my main goal every time I go out there,” Brown said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Brown is three points clear of third-place Adam Rippon, the 2012 U.S. silver medalist and two-time world junior champion. Rippon put his hand down on a quad.

Reigning U.S. champion Max Aaron stands sixth with 75.91 points after falling on a quad salchow. Aaron has attempted five quads this season and not landed any cleanly.

If the U.S. standings hold in Saturday’s free skate, it will further complicate the Olympic team outlook.

Aaron came into the season as a favorite for one of two spots for Sochi, but Brown’s stock is rising more than anybody else.

Lysacek hasn’t competed since the 2010 Olympics, and Jeremy Abbott and Ross Miner make their Grand Prix season debuts at Skate Canada next week against three-time reigning world champion Patrick Chan.

The favorite going into Skate America was 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi, but he, too, fell on a quad attempt and landed in fifth place behind another Japanese, Takahiko Kozuka.

Skate America continues Saturday with the pairs short program (noon Eastern time), women’s short program (1:30), men’s free skate (7) and free dance (9).

U.S. skaters are ramping up their seasons in anticipation of the U.S. Championships from Jan. 5-12 in Boston. The U.S. Olympic team will be named after that event.

Short Dance
1. Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) 75.70
2. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) 69.88
3. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) 61.26
4. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) 60.71

5. Julia Zlobina/Alexei Sitnikov (AZE) 54.53

6. Cathy Reed/Chris Reed (JPN) 54.28
7. Pernelle Carron/Lloyd Jones (FRA) 54.10
8. Isabella Tobias/Deividas Stagniūnas (LTU) 53.17

Men’s Short Program
1. Tatsuki Machida (JPN) 91.18
2. Jason Brown (USA) 83.78
3. Adam Rippon (USA) 80.26
4. Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) 77.75
5. Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) 77.09
6. Max Aaron (USA) 75.91
7. Alexander Majorov (SWE) 74.97
8. Artur Gachinski (RUS) 69.81

Elvis Stojko not a fan of Olympic team event

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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