by Liz Leamy
(24 January 2023) Ilia Malinin, the teenage jumping sensation who wowed the world with his quad Axel at the 2022 International Skating Union Skate America Grand Prix event in Boston last October, is looking to strike his gold at the 2023 U.S. Championships in San Jose this week.
This talented 18 year-old, who is based in Vienna, Virginia where he lives with his parents, Tatiana Malinina and Roman Skorniakov, both former World singles competitors, seems primed to make another indelible mark on the skating world in San Jose with his main goal being to do well and also have a good time.
“I’m hoping in San Jose I’ll have a fun time and be the best,” said Malinin, who trains with his parents in Reston, Virginia as well as with Raphael Arutyunyan, the illustrious coach of Nathan Chen, the 2022 U.S. Olympic champion, in Irvine, California.
In San Jose, Malinin said he is planning to do a quad Axel with his primary focus being on prioritizing all of his other technical and artistic elements.
“To me, my priority is to focus on everything I’ve been practicing in practice,” said Malinin.
Malinin, who clinched silver at the 2022 U.S. Championships and then bronze at the 2022-23 Championship Grand Prix Finals last December, explained that Nathan Chen, the six-time U.S. champion and four-time World titlist, represents a huge role model for him.
“I hope I’ll be on top like Nathan was,” said Malinin. “I see how much he was putting into practice and I feel like I took that inspiration from him and put that focus on myself.”
Malinin said that in terms of preparing for Nationals, he has gained a lot of strength and knowledge from working with Arutyunyan, who he regularly visits.
“With Raphael, I did a lot of work technically and a lot of mental training for Nationals,” said Malinin, referencing a recent trip he and his parents made to California where he worked with Arutyunyan.
Malinin said that during that visit, he also worked with Shae-Lynn Bourne, the Canadian World dance champion on his programs.
“We did a little bit of corrections to be more fluid,” said Malinin of Bourne, his choreographer. (Bourne was also a choreographer for Chen.)
Reputed to be kind and hard working, Malinin is a senior at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Virginia and said it is a place he very much enjoys.
Specifically, Malinin said the experience of being at school helps to give him perspective on everything.
“It’s helped me open up to new things and see what other people are doing in their lives as well,” said Malinin, adding it’s also “definitely helped me with my social life.”
Certainly, in seeing how Malinin has catapulted into the domestic and international skating spotlight in such stunning fashion over the past few years, it seems he’s already attracted plenty of attention on a major scale.
Meanwhile, another major player to watch in the men’s event is Jason Brown, the enigmatic 2015 U.S. champion and two-time U.S. Olympian who placed sixth at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.
Regarded to be one of the most exquisite and finest component skaters of the sport, Brown announced his decision to compete at the 2023 Nationals early last November following a brief hiatus from the Championship Grand Prix series in which he did a series of shows in Japan as well as a successful media stint for the USA Network at Skate America in Boston.
Brown, who has a dedicated and extensive fan following, trains with Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson in Toronto as well as with Rohene Ward, the decorated international choreographer.
Between Malinin, Brown and the entire men’s contingent slated to compete at the 2023 U.S. Championships, this showdown ought to be one for the books, that is for certain.