Oct. 23 (UPI) — World champion figure skater Nathan Chen landed four quadruple jumps to win the gold at Skate America by more more than 30 points — the largest margin in the history of the event.
Sunday’s victory followed a shaky start to the season for Chen, 19, who finished sixth at the Japan Open earlier this month, struggling to land his jumps..
Skate America in Everett, Wash., is the first event in the competitive Grand Prix of Figure Skating series, which continues Friday with Skate Canada. Chen went into it with “lower expectations,” he said, after starting college at Yale University this fall.
Chen has been in contact with his coach via FaceTime and is competing while on fall recess.
“It’s a great start for me,” Chen told NBC Sports after Skate America. “I definitely had sort of lower expectations coming into this event, just because I’m in a completely new situation in life. … Watered down my programs a little bit, but I think it was definitely appropriate.”
Chen won by the largest margin in the history of the event with a total score of 280.57. The silver medalist, Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic, scored 239.51. Russia’s Sergei Voronov took bronze with 226.44 points and programs choreographed by Denis Ten, who was killed in July.
It was a different story for the Americans in the ladies’ Skate America competition.
U.S. champion Bradie Tennell, 20, landed in fourth place, despite a strong showing with a few mistakes — primarily under-rotations and a popped triple lutz. She finished less than six points shy of a bronze medal.
Japan’s Satoko Miyahara took the gold, followed by Kaori Sakomoto with silver and Russia’s Sofia Samodurova with bronze.
Tennell had opened her season with a surprise victory over Olympic silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia at the Autumn Classic in Ontario, Canada.
The Grand Prix series culminates in December with the top six skaters in each discipline. Tennell will have another shot at the Grand Prix of France, but without a medal in her first assignment, she is unlikely to be a finalist.
Skate America provides an opportunity for up-and-coming U.S. skaters to showcase their talents.
Seventeen-year-olds Vincent Zhou and Starr Andrews made their Grand Prix season debuts, but finished fifth and 10th respectively — a last-place finish for Andrews.
U.S. Olympic pair skaters Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim finished fourth in their event. But another American pair, Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, took home the bronze.
American ice dance team Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue won gold.
Pairs gold went to Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia.