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Ilia Malinin tops Skate America short program with new look

Malinin approaches career-best in short program
Ilia Malinin registers a score of 104.06 points, the second-best total of his international career, to lead the men's competition at Skate America following the short program.

Defending champion Ilia Malinin leads Skate America after the short program, showing off an increased emphasis on artistry this season.

Malinin, who last year became the youngest Skate America men’s champion at age 17, had three clean jumping passes, including two quadruple jumps, Friday night in Allen, Texas.

He totaled 104.06 points, the second-best tally of his international career, and leads Frenchman Kévin Aymoz by 6.72 going into Saturday’s free skate.

“The skate that I had today was one of the best I had all my career so far,” Malinin said. “I was so into the music and so into that performance that I wasn’t even really aware of what was going on around me.”

SKATE AMERICA: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Last year, Malinin became the first skater to land a quadruple Axel in competition and attempted it at all eight of his events. He is not expected to attempt the quad Axel at Skate America.

The U.S. champion took bronze at March’s worlds as the only teen in the top 13. While he attempted the most difficult set of jumps in history, he placed 11th in artistic scores.

He wants to become a more well-rounded skater this season and rely less on his jumps.

Malinin said last week that he is unlikely to attempt a quad Axel in competition until December’s Grand Prix Final, the first event of the season that gathers all of the top skaters.

On Friday, Malinin scored a personal-best 43.86 points for artistic skills, also known as program components, which was 3.59 points higher than in the 2022 Skate America short program.

Malinin will not face the other top men’s skaters — Japan’s Shoma Uno and Yuma Kagiyama and South Korea’s Cha Jun-Hwan — until later this season.

Earlier Friday, Germans Annika Hocke and Robert Kunkel topped the pairs’ short program among a field with no skaters who previously finished in the top two of a Grand Prix event.

Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, the 2022 World champions, said last season that it would probably be their last, then didn’t sign up for this fall’s Grand Prix Series. They won two of the last three Skate Americas.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, the reigning world champs, withdrew last week due to his back injury.

The Skate America women’s and ice dance events start Saturday.