Shoma Uno, Mai Mihara win Grand Prix Final; Ilia Malinin, Isabeau Levito rally for medals

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Shoma Uno easily won his first duel with Ilia Malinin this season at figure skating’s Grand Prix Final, but the 18-year-old American landed another quadruple Axel in Saturday’s free skate to build anticipation for March’s world championships.

Japan’s Uno, the world champion, totaled 304.46 points with the top short program and free skate to prevail by a whopping 30.11 points over countryman Sota Yamamoto. Malinin rallied for bronze from fifth place after the short with five quadruple jumps in the free (one negatively graded).

The U.S. earned a medal in all four events at a Final for the first time (thanks to its first-ever pairs’ medal on Friday, and perhaps in part the absence of Russian skaters, all banned for the war in Ukraine).

Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, improved from fifth after the short to earn silver behind Japan’s Mai Mihara in the women’s event. Levito, even with a fall in the free skate, became the third-youngest U.S. woman to win a Grand Prix Final medal after Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan.

“I’m very shocked,” said Levito, who goes into January’s U.S. Championships as the clear favorite after the retirements of Mariah Bell and Alysa Liu. “When I messed up in my program, I didn’t expect to be in the place that I am now.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Uno had such an advantage over Malinin from the short — 19.89 points — that the American, who entered the competition with the world’s best score this season, could not pass him if Uno skated relatively clean in the free.

Uno did just that with five quads (one negatively graded) to win the Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual competition, for the first time after two previous silvers and two bronzes.

“Everything I trained for was able to be crystallized in the competition here today,” Uno said through a translator. “But at the same time, I did sense that there’s a lot of room for growth.”

Malinin, fifth of six skaters in Friday’s short due to errors on all three jumping passes, rebounded with a strong free skate like he did in his three previous events this season (three wins to rank No. 1 in the world going into the Final). Malinin is the only skater to ever land a quad Axel and has now done it in each of his free skates this season.

Malinin has been affected by a left foot injury since at least late November. He said Saturday that it started really bothering him two weeks ago, but he “barely even felt it” at the Final. Because of it, he did not attempt a Lutz jump at either of his last two events, yet still finished first and third in them.

“A good sign that it’s healing,” said Malinin, who hopes to put the Lutz back in later this season. “It showed today that with all the prep that I’m doing, all the physical therapy.

“I was sort of in shock I was able to pull this off with all the preparation that I didn’t have.”

Malinin, the world junior champion who turned 18 last week, became the second-youngest U.S. man to win a Grand Prix Final medal after Nathan Chen.

Uno and Malinin ascended to the top of the sport following two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu‘s retirement and reigning Olympic champion Chen’s indefinite, possibly permanent leave from the sport.

Next, Uno and Malinin head to their respective national championships to lock up spots at March’s worlds in Japan.

Also Saturday, Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier consolidated their world No. 1 status by winning the Grand Prix Final ice dance. Gilles and Poirier, seventh at the Olympics, totaled 215.64 points to beat Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by 3.7 points.

Chock and Bates, the top returning ice dance couple from last season with all three Olympic medalists not competing internationally this fall, were bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. The U.S. earned a Grand Prix Final dance medal for a 14th consecutive time.

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Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record; David Wise wins first title in 5 years

Mark McMorris
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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, American David Wise earned his first major ski halfpipe title since repeating as Olympic champion in 2018. Wise landed back-to-back double cork 1260s to end his winning run, according to commentators.

“I wouldn’t still be out here if I didn’t think I had a chance,” Wise, 32 and now a five-time X Games Aspen champ, said on the broadcast. “I’m not going to be the guy who just keeps playing the game until everybody just begs me to stop.”

U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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