Starr Andrews put up the top free skate of her international career, moving from fifth place to take runner-up at Skate Canada, matching the best full-fledged Grand Prix finish for an American woman in six years.
Andrews, 21, landed six triple jumps in the free skate in Mississauga, Ontario, to finish 6.33 points behind winner Rinka Watanabe of Japan.
It’s Andrews’ best result in seven career senior Grand Prix starts, displacing a fifth place from 2019. It’s one of, if not the best Grand Prix result for a Black singles skater. France’s Surya Bonaly won several events that became Grand Prixs before the Grand Prix Series began in 1995, then placed third in two Grand Prix Series events late in her career.
“It is a huge deal for me,” Andrews said, according to the International Skating Union. “I am one of the few people of color in the sport, and to bring home a medal is even more special.”
Andrews made a splash at 9 years old when a video of her skating to “Whip My Hair” went viral. She had another moment at the 2018 U.S. Championships, earning a standing ovation to her free skate to her own cover of “One Moment in Time” and finishing sixth overall.
Starr Andrews’ reaction to her score at @SkateCanada is priceless. 💜
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) October 29, 2022
Andrews made it back-to-back Grand Prix runner-up finishes for U.S. women after Isabeau Levito‘s senior Grand Prix debut at Skate America last week. Andrews’ total ranks her third among U.S. women on the early season behind Levito and Amber Glenn, who was third at Skate America.
The U.S. is in the midst of its longest women’s victory drought in a full-fledged Grand Prix — figure skating’s top international circuit — not counting Mariah Bell‘s win at a 2020 Skate America that was largely a domestic field due to COVID-19. Ashley Wagner claimed the last international Grand Prix title for an American woman in 2016.
Andrews will likely qualify for December’s six-skater Grand Prix Final with a podium finish in her later Grand Prix in Japan in three weeks.
The U.S. has three women’s spots for March’s world championships, to be doled out after January’s national championships. None of the three Olympians from last season are competing, with Alysa Liu and Bell both retired.
Watanabe landed a triple Axel in her free skate, improving from sixth place after the short and totaling 197.59 points. Watanabe, a 20-year-old who was sixth at last season’s Japan Nationals, won her senior Grand Prix debut.
Later Saturday, world champion Shoma Uno improved from second after the short program to win the men’s event. He had five quadruple jumps — one under-rotated and three others with negative grades of execution — en route to 273.15 total points. Uno beat fellow Japanese skater Kao Miura by 7.86. Miura dropped from first after the short to second overall for a second consecutive week.
American Ilia Malinin, who won Skate America over Miura last week, has the world’s best total score this season of 280.37. Malinin and Uno could face off for the first time this season at December’s Grand Prix Final, which takes the top six per discipline over the six-event Grand Prix Series.
World silver medalists Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara earned the biggest title for a Japanese pairs’ team in history, distancing Americans Emily Chan and Spencer Howe by 25.54 points. Miura and Kihara’s total score — 212.02 — ranks them first in the world this season, 10.63 points ahead of world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier of the U.S.
Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, the 2021 World bronze medalists, earned their third consecutive Skate Canada ice dance title. Their total score — 215.70 — ranks them first in the world this season. It’s 12.9 points better than 2022 World bronze medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates‘ total to win Skate America last week.
The figure skating season continues with Grand Prix France next week, featuring world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium, live on Peacock.
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