Two skaters who happen to share the same surname ushered in a new era for American skating this weekend.
Nathan Chen lived up to his billing and cruised to his first national title at the United States Figure Skating Championships in Kansas City, Missouri. The cushion of more than a 17 point lead after the short programme was not even necessary in the end. The 17 year-old unleashed an unprecedented five quadruple jumps in the free skating to capture gold. Over 55 points adrift of Chen in second place was Vincent Zhou who stayed ahead of Jason Brown. It was Brown’s third national medal after missing out on last year’s event through injury.
The ladies competition was a much more closer, but that surname cropped up again. Karen Chen (no relation to the men’s champion) came first in both the short and the free to edge out Ashley Wagner by just over two points. Chen and Wagner will be joined on the team for the 2017 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland by Mariah Bell who picked up the bronze medal.
In recent years, ice dance has been the strongest discipline for the U.S. and the medallists were as expected. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani lost the free dance to Madison Chock and Evan Bates, but had enough in hand from the short dance to eke out victory by 1.01 points. Despite a fall in the free for Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, their third place was never in doubt. All three teams will make the trip to Worlds in March.
Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier took the pairs title. Denney’s sister Caydee has won two U.S. pair titles previously. Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran upgraded to silver after their bronze last year. Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc bagged bronze on their U.S. Nationals debut. Denney and Frazier and the injured Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim were given the nod for the Worlds team.
Duhamel and Radford Seal Historic Sixth Title
For sixth year in a row, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford scooped up the pairs crown at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships making them the most decorated couple in the history of the event. Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch were second with Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro third.
Patrick Chan equalled the longstanding record of nine Canadian titles of Montgomery Wilson set in the 1930s. Second went to Kevin Reynolds for the fourth time in his career. Last year’s champion Nam Nguyen was third this time round.
There was a third Canadian title for Kaetlyn Osmond in the ladies event. Gabrielle Daleman picked up her fourth national silver and Alaine Chartrand was demoted to third after winning in 2016.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir continued their winning ways this season with a seventh Canadian title. It was a distant second for the 2015 and 2016 champions Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. Despite illness, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier were a comfortable third.