Patrick Chan: Maybe ISU should put limit on quadruple jumps

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Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan suggested a limit on quadruple jumps would benefit figure skaters due to injury risk.

“Maybe they [the International Skating Union] need to limit the amount of quads you can do in the long program,” Chan said, according to Reuters. “But I don’t think that will happen until somebody actually does get hurt.”

Chan, a 26-year-old who won three straight world titles from 2011-13, has voiced concern over the proliferation of four-revolution jumps since his comeback in 2015.

“It’s like the slam-dunk contest, that’s what it’s becoming,” Chan said after winning his eighth Canadian title in January, according to the Canadian Press. “I will be dead honest, I think with my experience and credibility at this point, I can say already with the men doing three quads, the quality of skating is diminished.”

Chan finished fifth at each of the last two world championships, beaten by skaters with more quads.

This year, he performed three quadruple jumps in his free skate for the first time at worlds. But it wasn’t enough to land on the podium despite Chan having the second-highest artistic marks in both the short program and free skate.

The world medalists — Yuzuru HanyuShoma Uno and Jin Boyang — each performed one more quad jump than Chan in the short program and in the free skate. American Nathan Chen attempted a record six quads in the free, falling twice and finishing sixth overall.

Hanyu, who took gold over Chan at the Sochi Olympics, is 22 years old, four years younger than Chan. Uno and Jin are each 19. Chen is 17.

“I’m going to stick to what I can do … because if I try and … do the impossible, I will either get too frustrated to the point where I won’t enjoy the sport anymore or I will get hurt and maybe have to get hip replacements at age 30,” Chan said, according to Reuters. “The advantage of a 17-year-old like Nathan and Shoma … [is that] there is a bit of disconnect between the toll their bodies are physically going through and the connection to the brain where it’s sending the pain.”

The judging system in place since 2004 rewards more quad attempts as skaters seek to accumulate points.

“The judging system is along for the ride as opposed to leading us to add more quads,” Chan said, according to Reuters. “The men’s field have taken it and morphed it to their strengths.”

Chan has felt like an underdog throughout his comeback. At this time four years ago, he held the world-record total score of 280.98 points. Now, that score ranks No. 33 all time. Five men have broken 300 points. Chan is not one of them.

“I have to remind myself of the little victories along the way,” Chan said at the world championships, noting he’s one of few skaters who have endured through three Olympic cycles. “That’s the only way I can hang with these guys.”

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Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier top pairs’ short at U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier
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World champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier lead after the pairs’ short program in what may be their last U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Knierim and Frazier, who last March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979, tallied 81.96 points to open the four-day nationals on Thursday.

They lead by 15.1 over Emily Chan and Spencer Howe going into Saturday’s free skate in San Jose, California. The top three teams from last year’s event — which Knierim and Frazier missed due to him contracting COVID-19 — are no longer competing together.

After nationals, a committee selects three U.S. pairs for March’s world championships in Japan.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Before the fall Grand Prix Series, the 31-year-old Knierim said this will probably be their last season competing together, though the pair also thought they were done last spring. They don’t expect to make a final decision until after a Stars on Ice tour this spring.

“I don’t like to just put it out there and say it is the last or not going to be the last because life just has that way of throwing curveballs, and you just never know,” Frazier said this month. “But I would say that this is the first nationals where I’m going to go in really trying to soak up every second as if it is my last because you just don’t know.”

Knierim is going for a fifth U.S. title, which would tie the record for a pairs’ skater since World War II, joining Kyoka Ina, Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner, Karol Kennedy and Peter Kennedy. Knierim’s first three titles, and her first Olympics in 2018, were with husband Chris, who retired in 2020.

Knierim is also trying to become the first female pairs’ skater in her 30s to win a national title since 1993. Knierim and ice dancer Madison Chock are trying to become the first female skaters in their 30s to win a U.S. title in any discipline since 1995.

After being unable to defend their 2021 U.S. title last year, Knierim and Frazier reeled off a series of historic results in what had long been the country’s weakest discipline.

They successfully petitioned for an Olympic spot and placed sixth at the Games, best for a U.S. pair since 2002. They considered retirement after their world title, which was won without the top five teams from the Olympics in attendance. They returned in part to compete as world champions and to give back to U.S. skating, helping set up younger pairs for success.

They became the first U.S. pair to win two Grand Prix Series events, then in December became the first U.S. pair to make a Grand Prix Final podium (second place). The world’s top pairs were absent; Russians banned due to the war in Ukraine and Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong from China leaving competition ice (for now).

Knierim and Frazier’s real test isn’t nationals. It’s worlds, where they will likely be the underdog to home favorites Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who edged the Americans by 1.3 points in the closest Grand Prix Final pairs’ competition in 12 years.

Nationals continue with the rhythm dance and women’s short program later Thursday.

NBC Sports’ Sarah Hughes (not the figure skater) contributed to this report.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Pairs Short Program
1. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 81.96
2. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 66.86
3. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea —- 65.75
4. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 63.45
5. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 63.12
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 56.96
7. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 50.72
8. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 46.96
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 46.81
10. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 45.27
11. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 43.99

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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