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Glenn nabs women's title as Malinin dazzles at US Figure Skating Championships

Defending champion Ilia Malinin has a commanding lead after the men's short program at the US Figure Skating Championships in Columbus, Ohio (MATTHEW STOCKMAN)
Defending champion Ilia Malinin has a commanding lead after the men's short program at the US Figure Skating Championships in Columbus, Ohio (MATTHEW STOCKMAN)

Amber Glenn grabbed women's gold as Isabeau Levito faltered on Friday at the US Figure Skating Championships, where Ilia Malinin dazzled in the men's short program.

Glenn, second behind defending champion Levito after the short program, landed a triple axel in her free skate but appeared to be out of the running for a first national title after a string of mistakes late in her skate in Columbus, Ohio.

But Levito, skating last, fell three times and settled for bronze behind 15-year-old Josephine Lee.

"Utter shock," Glenn told broadcaster NBC of finding herself atop the podium with a total score of 210.46 points. Lee won the free skate for a total of 204.13 and Levito totalled 200.68.

Men's competition opened with "Quad god" Malinin landing two quadruple jumps and a triple axel to seize a massive lead after the short program.

The 19-year-old son of Russian-born Olympic skaters, known for his quadruple jump prowess, amassed 108.57 points, with Maxim Naumov a distant second on 89.72 and Jason Brown third on 89.02.

Malinin will try to defend his US crown in Sunday's free skate final.

Malinin is the only skater to land a quadruple axel in competition, first doing so in his senior level debut at Skate America 2022.

He didn't opt for the quadruple axel on Friday, but opened his program with a spectacular quadruple toe and added a quadruple lutz-triple toe combination before making a triple axel his final jump.

"I was just kind of grateful that I got through everything, especially with the past few weeks, having a lot of skate malfunctions," Malinin told NBC. "I was just a little bit nervous going to this event and I'm lucky I was able to stay on my feet and just really perform for the audience.

"I definitely felt the energy, especially towards the end of the program and just they're all connecting towards me and I had the energy to fight through."

Malinin, who took bronze at last year's world championships, won last month's ISU Grand Prix Final at Beijing. He landed a quad axel in the short program and a quadruple loop in the free skate, making him the first skater to perform all six types of jumps as quads in competition.

Now aiming for a repeat national title to stamp himself a favorite for the World Championships in Montreal March 18-24, Malinin said he hadn't yet decided if he would include a quad axel in the free skate, something he likely won't need to win given his massive margin atop the standings.

"I think I'll have to think about it," he said.

bb/dhw