American Ilia Malinin opened the Grand Prix figure skating season five weeks ago by becoming the youngest man to win Skate America, and doing it in style with a quadruple Axel. It remains the highlight performance of the fall going into the last Grand Prix event in Finland this week.
Malinin, the 17-year-old world junior champion, remains the top-ranked man this year by his best total score from Skate America.
He will qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final, which takes the top six per discipline from the six-event Grand Prix Series, by finishing in the top four (and possibly even fifth) in Finland. That would set up a showdown at the Final with world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who ranks second in the world this season (just .61 of a point behind Malinin).
Malinin is part of a larger American story within figure skating this season. In the absence of skaters from Russia (banned for the war in Ukraine) and China (top athletes didn’t enter the Grand Prix Series), the U.S. is on the verge of qualifying into the Grand Prix Final in all four disciplines for the first time in 15 years.
Isabeau Levito, also a reigning world junior champion, plus the pairs’ teams of Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier and Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe and ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates already clinched spots.
Another American ice dance couple, Skate America silver medalists Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, will join them with a podium this week. Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, the world’s top-ranked ice dance couple, are also in the Finland field.
The women’s event may be the most intriguing with two who won Grand Prix events already this fall (world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium and Japan’s Mai Mihara) and two with Grand Prix Final experience on the comeback trail (2018 Grand Prix Final winner Rika Kihira of Japan and two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell).
Grand Prix Finland Broadcast Schedule
|Friday||6 a.m.||Pairs’ Short||Peacock|
|7:50 a.m.||Women’s Short||Peacock|
|10:45 a.m.||Men’s Short||Peacock|
|12:40 p.m.||Rhythm Dance||Peacock|
|Saturday||5:45 a.m.||Pairs’ Free||Peacock|
|7:20 a.m.||Women’s Free||Peacock|
|11:15 a.m.||Men’s Free||Peacock|
|1:25 p.m.||Free Dance||Peacock|
|Sunday||3:30 p.m.||Highlights||NBC | NBC Sports app|
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