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Ilia Malinin breaks Nathan Chen record at Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Defending champion Ilia Malinin broke Nathan Chen’s record for the largest leading margin in a U.S. Figure Skating Championships short program.

Malinin, 19, tallied 108.57 points, landing two quadruple jumps (toe loop and Lutz), but not attempting his signature quad Axel (which he has only ever tried once in a short).

“I was just kind of grateful that I got through everything, especially with the past few weeks having a lot of skate malfunctions,” he said on NBC Sports, adding later that the boot problems leading up (common in figure skating) made withdrawing before the competition a possibility. “I was just a little bit nervous going to this event. I’m lucky I was able to stay on my feet.”

He distanced Max Naumov, last year’s fourth-place finisher, by 18.85 going into Sunday’s free skate in Columbus, Ohio.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

It’s the largest short program margin for any discipline since the 6.0 scoring system was thrown out after 2005.

Jason Brown, a two-time Olympian whose breakout came out at 2014 Nationals, is third thanks to strong artistic scores despite falling on an opening triple Axel.

“Obviously, it’s not ideal to start on your butt, but I loved the fight through the end,” he said.

At 29, Brown can become the oldest man to make a U.S. podium since Todd Eldredge won the 2002 title at 30.

Chen had the previous short program margin record of 17.72 points set at the 2017 Nationals, the first of his six consecutive U.S. titles. Chen won the 2022 Olympic title and hasn’t competed since.

Already this season, Malinin earned the biggest international title of his career in winning December’s Grand Prix Final over two-time world champion Shoma Uno of Japan.

The three-man U.S. team for March’s world championships in Montreal will be announced after nationals. Malinin took bronze at worlds last year.

Nationals continue later Friday with the women’s free skate, live at 8 p.m. ET on NBC,, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.