Isabeau Levito, Ilia Malinin lead Grand Prix France, can end U.S. figure skating droughts
Isabeau Levito and Ilia Malinin lead Grand Prix France after the short programs, bidding for a U.S. sweep of men’s and women’s titles at a Grand Prix for the first time in 20 years.
Levito, 16, tallied 71.83 points in Friday’s short program, which included a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination.
She leads Georgian Anastasiia Gubanova by 5.1 going into Saturday’s free skate, live on Peacock.
Levito can become the first U.S. woman to win a full-fledged Grand Prix since Ashley Wagner at 2016 Skate America. It’s the longest drought for the nation since the annual Grand Prix Series began in 1995.
Mariah Bell won 2020 Skate America, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, 11 of 12 women in that field were American.
Levito can also become the youngest U.S. woman to win a Grand Prix since Sarah Hughes in 2001, four months before she won the Olympics.
Levito was second in all of her previous four Grand Prix starts, including at last December’s Grand Prix Final. She then won her first senior U.S. title in January and placed fourth in her senior world championships debut last March.
Later Friday, the 18-year-old Malinin topped the men’s short with 101.58 points, landing two quadruple jumps and also falling during a step sequence. He edged Adam Siao Him Fa of France by 51 hundredths of a point.
Malinin, Siao Him Fa and third place Yuma Kagiyama of Japan rank first, second and third in the world this season by best short program score.
Malinin, the U.S. champion and world bronze medalist last season, is bidding for a fourth career Grand Prix title. He won the last two Skate Americas, including last month with the world’s best total score over the past two seasons.
The last time the U.S. swept the women’s and men’s singles titles at a Grand Prix event was 2003 Skate America (Sasha Cohen, Michael Weiss).
Also Friday, world silver medalists Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy topped the rhythm dance with 86.62 points, the world’s second-best score this season.
Only Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier scored higher this fall, an 87.55 at last week’s Skate Canada.