FIGURE SKATING: Chen wins third U.S. title; Hubbell & Donohue win their second

World Champion Nathan Chen of the U.S. (Photo: ISU)

After the shock of 13-year-old Alysa Liu winning the U.S. women’s title on Friday, it was business as usual for the remainder of the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships.

Nathan Chen, still just 19, won his third straight U.S. title and Ice Dance stars Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue were clear winners as well.

Chen just overwhelmed the field, scoring an outstanding 113.42 in the Short Program to lead by almost 13 points over Jason Brown. Chen then scored a sensational 228.80 in the Free Skate to compile a score of 342.22. By comparison, he scored 318.47 to win the 2017 title and 315.23 last season. In fact, it’s his highest score ever – by a lot – bettering his 321.40 to win the 2018 World Championships.

“The score definitely took me by surprise,” Chen said. “It was a lot bigger than I was expecting, but ultimately scores are scores. I’m happy with what I did and hopefully I can continue to do that in other competitions.”

Chen completed four quadruple jumps in his routine and had a 58.21-point margin of victory over runner-up Vincent Zhou who passed Jason Brown for silver during the Free Skate.

Chen also became the first three-time champion since Johnny Weir (2004–06). In case you’re wondering, the record is seven in a row by Roger Turner (1928-34) and Dick Button (1946-52).

Hubbell and Donohue defended their Ice Dance title from 2018, extending their streak of finishing in the top three in the nationals to five years. They also led in both the Rhythm Dance and the Free Dance and ended with a 4.36-point margin over Madison Chock and Evan Bates, the seventh straight top-three finish for the latter (including the 2015 national title).

“I think in this performance, more than ever before, Zach and I were really connected,” Hubbell said. “We kept looking into each other’s eyes, so we created a bubble and there wasn’t a realization until the end. We were in bubble time, but to find a way to open up our bubble and see everyone standing, it was really special.”

The Pairs competition saw Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc move from second after the Short Program to first after the Free Skate, to win their first national title.

“It was just amazing to watch each day that we came back, adding one little thing at a time,” said LeDuc, noting Cain’s head injury last December. “It was like building a castle almost, one brick at a time. There were some really difficult times that we had to push through. Through all of that we relied on each other and came closer together. I said it after the short program and I’ll say it again, it’s been so inspiring for me to watch Ashley push through this and overcome all of these challenges day by day.”

For the World Championships, the U.S. will send Chen, Zhou and Brown in the men’s division, Bradie Tennell and Mariah Bell for the women (Liu is too young), Cain and LeDuc in Pairs and Hubbel and Donohue, Chock and Bates and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker in Ice Dance. Summaries:

U.S. Figure Skating National Championships
Detroit, Michigan (USA) ~ 24-27 January 2019
(Full results here)

Men: 1. Nathan Chen, 342.22 (1st in Short Program + 1st in Free Skate); 2. Vincent Zhou, 284.01 (3+2); 3. Jason Brown, 273.08 (2+3); 4. Tomoki Hiwatashi, 253.28 (4+4); 5. Aleksei Krasnozhon, 234.52 (5+5); 6. Timothy Dolensky, 228,94 (6+7); 7. Andrew Torgashev, 225.97 (9+6); 8. Sean Rabbitt, 217.84 (7+9).

Women: 1. Alysa Liu, 217.51 (2+1); 2. Bradie Tennell, 213.59 (1 + 4); 3. Mariah Bell, 212.40 (3 + 2); 4. Hanna Harrell, 203.11 (5 + 5); 5. Ting Cui, 194.30 (12 + 3); 6. Megan Wessenberg, 182.55 (7 + 6); 7. Amber Glenn, 180.73 (4 + 8); 8. Starr Andrews, 175.70 (8 + 7).

Pairs: 1. Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc, 212.36 (2+1); 2. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier, 201.64 (3+2); 3. Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Nathan Bartholomay, 199.92 (4+3); 4. Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea, 198.64 (1+4); 5. Jessica Calalang/Brian Johnson, 183.42 (6+5); 6. Audrey Lu/Misha Mitrofanov, 182.42 (5+6); 7. Alexa Knierim/Chris Knierim, 171.42 (7+7); 8. Nica Digerness/Danny Neudecker, 163.63 (9+9).

Ice Dance: 1. Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue, 215.88 (1+1); 2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates, 211.52 (2+2); 3. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker, 196.95 (3+3); 4. Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter, 191.10 (5+4); 5. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko, 190.01 (4+5); 6. Rachael Parsons/Michael Parsons, 170.26 (6+7); 7. Karina Manta/Joseph Johnson, 159.97 (7+6); 8. Lydia Erdman/Yuri Vlasenko, 124.92 (8+8).