Alexandra Trusova, with 'only one quad,' comfortably wins women's singles at Skate America

The Russian finished over 15 points ahead of compatriot Daria Usacheva despite leaving out her triple Axel and only completing the quad Lutz. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue won their fourth straight ice dance title.

By ZK Goh and Nick McCarvel
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

"In the future, I hope to do more quads."

Despite being limited to "only" one quadruple jump and excluding her triple Axel, Russia's Alexandra Trusova out-skated training mate Daria Usacheva and South Korea's You Young to win the women's singles at Skate America on Sunday (24 October) in Las Vegas.

"The program was very easy for me - I only did one quad today," she told the crowd inside Orleans Arena after the win. "I was happy that I was able to skate clean, but... Right now I'm not in my best shape. I'm hoping to get back into my best shape and hopefully get to the Olympic Games."

Trusova, who did not train Friday and showed up to Saturday practice late as she dealt with a foot injury, laid down a leading short program, and then toned down her regular quad-filled free skate (she's done as many as five in the past), nailing a clean skate which, coupled with her short program lead, was enough to lead her to overall victory by over 15 points.

It was an immense women's free skate, with the top six all performing their routines with aplomb and treating the fans in Las Vegas to a show.

Trusova, who is one of multiple skaters angling for one of three women's Olympic figure skating berths on the ROC team, opened with a big quadruple Lutz and never looked back. Her technical program was the best of any of the skaters, and it nailed her a free skate score of 154.68 and a total of 232.37, some 15 points clear of Usacheva.

Skate America marked the first of six Grand Prix Series events this season, with Skate Canada set for next week (29 & 30 October). The Grand Prix Final in mid-December will feature the best six skaters or teams from each discipline, while national championships will be held in late Dec. and early January, after which national bodies will name their Olympic teams for Beijing 2022.

Thrilling women's free: Usacheva finishes 2nd, You 3rd

The Republic of Korea's You and Japan's Sakamoto Kaori were both visibly delighted with their performances, with You nearly breaking down with emotion and Sakamoto virtually running off the ice to hug her coach.

Usacheva struggled towards the end of her program, stepping out of her a triple flip and being unable to get a planned triple toe loop into a combination with her second triple flip, settling for a double.

However, her considerable advantage over You from the short program was enough to hold on for second place and a total of 217.31.

You – aided by a triple Axel, the only woman to perform the jump here – edged ahead of both Sakamoto and Russia's Kseniia Sinitsyna, who had better short program scores.

The 17-year-old, who won Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games gold last January, scored a season's best 146.24 points for a total of 216.97.

Ice dance: Hubbell/Donohue hold off Chock/ Bates

Earlier, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue won the ice dance competition on their final Skate America appearance, their fourth straight win in the event, before a planned retirement at the end of the season.

The Americans, three-time defending champions, wowed with a brilliant free dance highlighted by a stunning straight line lift-rotational lift combination that received a high grade of execution score from the judging panel.

While their technical elements were scored just under those of fellow U.S. dancers and training partners Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Hubbell and Donohue's artistry and performance scored them the highest Program Component Score (PCS).

Hubbell and Donohue, who went last by virtue of having the highest rhythm dance score, knew that they needed to score 124.66 or better to overtake their teammates, and did so with a score of 125.96 for a total of 209.54.

For their part, second-placed Chock and Bates were exquisite in their delivery of an alien and space-inspired free dance, set to music by Daft Punk.

They effectively matched Hubbell and Donohue in the free dance nearly element for element, finishing less than three-tenths of a point behind in the segment.

That was not enough to overcome a one-point deficit from the rhythm dance as they finished with a total of 208.23 points.

Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen (190.13) and Spain's Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz (189.69) made it a one-two-three-four finish for teams who train at the Ice Academy of Montreal.

American teams discuss 'rivalry'

Hubbell said afterwards of her and Donohue's relationship with Chock and Bates: "It's funny to hear it described as 'rivals.' I started skating and discovered ice dance alongside Evan in Ann Arbor (in Michigan). We always had other people also to focus on and so what kind of stuck in my mind was the mutual respect and the friendship.

"We've certainly had a lot of inspiration and motivation to get ourselves in gear and it's no different this year. It's usually very close and we know that when they skate their best, we also have to skate our best. They didn't make it easy and we expect it to be close until we retire."

While Hubbell/Donohue have been clear that this is their final competitive scene, Chock/Bates have said that they have not made firm plans for what comes next for them after Beijing - and are open to continue competing.

"I feel like the word rivalry is used with a negative connotation too often," added Evan Bates. "In this case, I feel like the rivalry has been great for both teams. Certainly for us, we're so grateful for you guys (Hubbell and Donohue) especially since we moved to Montreal and they've shaped how we we work."

With the Olympic Games on the horizon, Donohue said: "In regards to the Olympics and the rest of the season, it's impossible to predict. This is such a beautiful, fantastic sport for that reason and so I don't want to put some expectation out there. We know what our goals are and we know what we're pushing for and we're going to keep pushing. Especially for us in our last season, we really want to take everything in."

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