Ilia Malinin repeats as U.S. figure skating champion
Ilia Malinin repeated as U.S. figure skating champion, landing his trademark quadruple Axel while erring on three other jumps in his free skate, citing recent boot problems, which are common in the sport.
Malinin, a 19-year-old nicknamed “Quadg0d” for his quad mastery, totaled 294.35 points with five quads between Friday’s short program and Sunday’s free skate in Columbus, Ohio.
He prevailed by 29.85 points over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, who was also runner-up in 2023.
Malinin led by 18.85 after the short, a record margin going into a free skate at nationals. So popping a loop and a toe loop and falling on a Lutz didn’t put the victory in question.
FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Results
“The main problem was just the boots,” he said. “I mean not even just today; this whole week that was just my main concern. Just going into this competition, I wasn’t really sure I was going to perform.”
Camden Pulkinen took bronze and rounds out the three-man team for March’s world championships in Montreal.
Malinin took bronze at last year’s worlds and ranks No. 1 in the world so far this season. He can become the third-youngest U.S. man to win a world title after Nathan Chen and Dick Button.
Last season, Malinin became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in competition. Earlier this season, he landed his first quad loop, becoming the first skater to land all six different types of quads over a career.
Malinin has said he’s focusing more on artistry this season. That showed again this week.
He had the second-best artistic (also called components) score of the competition, 32 hundredths of a point behind Brown, arguably the world’s best artist. At last year’s nationals, Brown scored 12.52 points higher than Malinin artistically.
“I’m not really disappointed with my performance here because, of course with the (boot) issues I had, I’m still very happy with how I’ve improved in other things, like my components,” he said.
Malinin has talked about possibly going for more history in future competitions, such as the first quintuple jump or the first single program with all six different types of quads.