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2022 Skate America Women

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany



The women’s competition at Skate America 2022 in the new and beautiful Tenley Albright rink of the Boston Skating Club in the suburb of Norwood had a good level. Albright, the 1956 Olympic Gold Medalist from the Club, was a medical doctor from Harvard University, is 87 years old now and presented the medals at this year’s ceremonies.

The reigning World Champion and Olympic bronze medalist Kaori Sakamoto gave one good and one excellent performance and won easily with 217.61 points even if she has no triple Axel and no quad in her repertoire. But her special strength is her outstandingly dynamic and elegant style. The 22-year-old skater said, “The triple Axel is a high risk jump for injuries. I am truly amazed by those who can do it. But I also accepted that it’s impossible to compete with youth.” She works now with choreographers Rohene Ward and Marie-France Dubreuil and no longer with Benoit Richaud.

In her entertaining short program to two songs of Janet Jackson, her double Axel was outstanding, her triple Lutz very good, but she doubled the toe loop after the triple flip of her combination. Spins and steps were stellar and her components around 8.9. Like many Japanese skaters she is very critical to herself and explained “Overall I am not really happy or satisfied in terms of performance. During my training I was not skating without mistakes. Skating without mistakes in training would build up my confidence for the competition. If I don’t make any mistakes in training I can do my best in competition no matter how nervous or tense I am.”

In her free program to “Elastic Heart” by Australian singer Sia, 11 of the 12 elements were excellent and had mainly GOEs of +3 and +4. Her opening double Axel even had three GOEs of +5. Six triple jumps were outstanding, her only small mistake came when she made a step between her second double Axel and the triple toe loop and under-rotated the toe loop. Her components had an average of 9.1. “This is actually my fifth time to come to Skate America and the first time to win a gold medal,” Sakamoto commented. “So I’m truly delighted about that. After the short program I was very determined to make sure I could to my triple-triple combination.”

U.S. skater Isabeau Levito of Mount Laurel in New Jersey won a well-merited silver medal with 206.66 points in her very first senior Grand Prix. The 15-year-old reigning Junior World Champion excelled with a balletic style and an elegance which is unusual for such a young age. Six elements in her short were excellent, including a triple flip. In her combination the triple loop after the triple Lutz was under-rotated and her components were around 8.4. She said, “It was a fun home crowd. The energy from the audience gave me energy and I enjoyed that. I feel very happy with my performance even though it was not perfect.”

She opened her free program to the Russian folk waltz “My Sweet and Tender Beast” with a triple Lutz which was a bit shaky, therefore she could not add a triple toe loop. Triple Salchow, triple flip, double Axel and later a second triple flip were convincing, the spins even outstanding, but her combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop was very shaky. Her components were around 8.5. She said, “It was really cool it was here in front of a home crowd in America. My long program definitely was not as good in my opinion, I definitely made mistakes here. But I’m still happy with the experience.”

In her seventh Grand Prix, Amber Glenn won her first medal, a bronze one, with 197.61 points. At Nationals 2022, she had to withdraw before the free program due to a Covid 19- infection. In the summer she moved from Euless, Texas to Colorado Springs and now trains under Damon Allen, Tammy Gambill and Viktor Pfeifer. Her clean short program to “Hit the Road, Jack” included a very good combination of triple flip and triple toe loop and an excellent triple loop. She said, “I felt good out there. It was a great crowd. Skating in your home country is always a great experience.”

Her first elements in the free program (Music, “Without You” by Ursine Vulpine) was the triple Axel, but she stumbled and stepped out. Seven other triple jumps were good, the spins very good and the two step sequences dynamic and excellent. Her components had an average of 8.1. She explained, “I left a lot on the table in the free skate. There were some obvious mistakes and some not so obvious ones. I felt like I held back and played it safe. But I’m very happy with the result.”

Haein Lee from South Korea finished on fourth position with 179.50 points. She had a good short program with a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop (under-rotated) and with very good spins and steps. She began her long program with the same combination as in the short, then fell on the under-rotated triple loop, and her triple flip was under-rotated as well. After a good triple Salchow she doubled and singled two more jumps. Ekaterina Kurakova from Poland trains in Italy under Lorenzo Magri and is fifth with 178.68 points. In her short program to an Elvis Presley medley, she almost under-rotated the triple Lutz of her combination. The other elements were convincing. In her free to the soundtrack of the computer-animated film “Up”, her opening combination with triple Lutz, Euler and triple flip went wrong. The second triple Lutz was under-rotated, but four more triples mainly good.

Gracie Gold is trying another comeback this season after many problems in recent years. After a good summer competition in Aston, Pennsylvania and a weak 12th place at Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, she finished sixth at Skate America with 174.09 points. Her first element in the short program to the soundtrack of “East of Eden” was a good combination, but she fell on the triple loop. She said with 27 years of age she is probably the oldest woman in the world to compete a clean combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. In her free program to Rakhmaninov, her short program combination was good again, but later she added only one other triple jump, the Salchow. She fell on the flip and doubled two more jumps which were planned triple.

Nicole Schott from Germany placed seventh with 160.35 points after being tenth in the short program. From April to July she suffered from Long Covid and could not train for almost four months. Now she is in better shape again, but still far from Worlds where she finished tenth. In her short her combination of triple flip and double toe loop was good, but she almost fell on the triple loop. In her free to a vocal version of the Bohemian Rhapsody, two combinations (one with triple flip and one with triple loop) and two double Axels were good, two more triples not clean. Yeonjeong Park from South Korea finished on eighth position, earning 158.58 points. Her triple Lutzes were excellent, but she under-rotated several other jumps. The third South Korean skater Ahsun Yun came ninth with 156.70 points. She also opened the free with an excellent triple Lutz, but had problems with other jumps.

Eliska Brezinova was nominated as alternate for the Chinese skater Yi Zhu who was not allowed to leave China and come back due to the zero policy against Covid 19. Brezinova is tenth with 153.57 points and coached mainly by her father in the Czech Republic and sometimes by her brother Michal Brezina (who lives in California) when she is in North America. Marilena Kitromilis skates for Cyprus, but lives and trains in Boston and ended up 11th with 135.48 points after making many mistakes. Rino Matsuike from Nagoya in Japan was eighth in the short program, but withdrew due to a non-Covid illness.