American duo Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier scored 75.19 points in their short program to take the lead over Canadians Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps, who had 73.05 points at Skate America Friday night in Norwood, Mass.
Knierim and Frazier, who helped the United States win team silver at the Beijing Olympics, are big favorites in the opening event of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating after taking advantage of the absence of the powerful Russian teams to win their first world title earlier this year.
Performing “Separate Ways” by American rock band Journey, Knierim and Frazier dazzled a sold-out crowd with their opening triple twist. Frazier landed on two feet on their side-to-side triple toe loop, but the 2021 Skate America champions came back with a beautiful triple flip throw to get a solid component score.
Knierim and Frazier had to show up on the Grand Prix stage though. The surprise came from Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps, whose performance on Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion” puts them solidly in second place.
The lower-tier Nebelhorn Trophy winners earlier this year have been solid from their opening triple twist, through their side-to-side triple toe and into their throwing triple loop to stay within reach of the gold medal.
“We’re very happy with our performance, happy to be here,” said Stellato-Dudek, who lives in Chicago and has skated for the United States before. “It’s kind of a homecoming for me. It’s like my marriage. It’s like I know everyone.”
Letizia Roscher and Luis Schuster of Germany were a distant second in third with 54.87 points, while fellow Canadians Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier are fourth (52.59).
WATCH | The Canadian Stellato-Dudek, Deschamps is in 2nd place after the short program:
Miura tops men’s short program; Malinin is 4th
Kao Miura took advantage of fellow Japanese Yuma Kagiyama’s forfeit, as well as an unusual crash from American rival Ilia Malinin, to take the lead after the men’s short program.
Miura, 17, landed a big quad salchow-triple toe opening loop with a triple axel and quad toe loop to score a personal best 94.96 points at the Tenley E. Albright Performance Center near Boston. That gave Miura a slim lead over South Korea’s Cha Junhwan, who completed a mashup of Michael Jackson with a score of 94.44.
“I’m kind of like, ‘Why am I sitting here?’ Miura said afterwards, “And that’s because I did everything I should have done on the ice. I just tried to be confident on the ice and it worked for me. »
WATCH | Miura in 1st place after the men’s short program:
Daniel Grassl of Italy was third with 88.43 while Malinin, the 17-year-old who made history by landing the first quad axel in competition, was fourth after falling on his quadruple loop toe left him with 86.06 points.
“I think at the very beginning I felt very confident. I was very in the moment,” said Malinin, the junior world champion, who was making his senior Grand Prix debut. “After this small fall, it discouraged me a bit. I had to get rid of it and continue with the rest of the program.”
Canadian Roman Sadovsky is in fifth place with 78.15 points, while his compatriot Wesley Chiu is ninth with 71.58.
Malinin became Skate America’s favorite when Olympic silver medalist Kagiyama pulled out of the event due to injury. But it was Miura, the 17-year-old Japanese junior champion, who took the lead in the free skate with a technical score more than five points ahead of everyone else.
It was eight points ahead of Malinin, who might need to land his quadruple axel on Saturday night to stand a chance.
“It really depends on how I feel personally,” Malinin said of the 4 1/2 spin jump attempt.
Watch live coverage of Skate America on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem. The action continues through Sunday.
WATCH | Malinin aims to win the 1st Senior Grand Prix at Skate America: