Amber Glenn wins first U.S. figure skating title in dramatic finish
Amber Glenn won her first senior U.S. figure skating title in her ninth try, overtaking defending champion Isabeau Levito after both struggled in Friday’s free skate.
Glenn, 24, was the penultimate skater after placing second to Levito in Thursday’s short program in Columbus, Ohio. She landed an opening triple Axel in her free skate, but fell apart in the second half with two botched jumping passes, which it appeared would cost her the win.
She still went into the lead, but apologized to her choreographer for her performance.
Levito, the last skater, would repeat as champion with a decent program. But the 16-year-old fell three times and finished third overall behind 15-year-old Josephine Lee.
Glenn’s reaction was “utter shock” to her second victory since winning the U.S. junior title in 2014 (the other win was the November 2018 Midwestern Sectionals).
“I know that both Isabeau and I are capable of so much more, but just the shock that all my hard work has paid off and the realization of what more I can do,” she said on NBC Sports.
Levito said the night felt like “a fever dream.”
“I was so shaky and nervous for this event, and it was so tough going in, trying to defend the title,” she said.
Glenn’s previous senior nationals medals were silver in 2021 and bronze in 2023. In between, she withdrew from the 2022 Nationals that determined the Olympic team due to a COVID-19 bout (and Mariah Bell won her first U.S. title in her ninth try).
Glenn’s start to this season was delayed after she was concussed and fractured an orbital bone around her eye after another skater collided with her at practice.
She debuted at October’s Skate America, where she became the sixth U.S. woman in history to land a triple Axel in competition, doing so in her 14th try dating to 2021, according to SkatingScores.com.
A U.S. Figure Skating committee will name two women to compete at March’s world championships, though Lee is too young for senior worlds. It’s possible a final decision on one spot might not be made until after next week’s Four Continents Championships in China.
Ava Ziegler, who won an international Grand Prix event in November, skipped nationals to focus on Four Continents but can be considered for the world team.
Earlier Friday, 15-year-old Mia Kalin became the first woman to land a clean, fully rotated quadruple jump at a U.S. Championships.
Kalin, who first landed a quad in 2021 at age 13, performed a quad toe loop in her free skate en route to an eighth-place finish overall.
She is one of two U.S. women to land a clean, fully rotated quad in any competition after Alysa Liu, who retired after placing seventh at the 2022 Olympics and third at the 2022 Worlds.
Nationals continue Saturday with the free dance and pairs’ free skate, live on NBC Sports and Peacock.