Yesterday, in part 1 of my look back at Lombardia Trophy and the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, I focused on the winners from the singles' events at the two competitions. But oh oh oh, there was so much more to talk about!
Related: All play-by-plays/results/videos
- U.S. Classic
- Lombardia Trophy
Don't forget about ...
Wakaba Higuchi! I wrote in part 1 that Marin Honda and Alina Zagitova impressed. Well, so too did Higuchi, winning the short and just getting edged out by Zagitova for the gold by under a point. She skated with confidence and improved musicality, and there may even be a triple axel in her future. She handily took the silver over Carolina Kostner. For Kostner, who is going for her fourth (!) Olympics, this season isn't about shining in every competition, it's about delivering when it counts the most in February.
Round one of the Mariah-Mirai showdown
From my last count, Mariah Bell and Mirai Nagasu, third and fourth last year at the U.S. Championships, are slated to compete against each other four times this season - U.S. Classic was round one. And Nagasu took this one pretty convincingly, and also with one fully-rotated triple axel in each program, though neither had clean landings. Was the slew of underrotation calls in the free skate potentially alarming for Nagasu? Possibly. But it's too early to tell at this point, especially since her jumps have been solid in the preseason.
Lost in my narrative here is U.S. champ Karen Chen, who was also in Salt Lake City and finished sandwiched between Bell and Nagasu. Add Ashley Wagner to the mix, and you’ve got the four current favorites for the three spots in PyeongChang. And if you think the results of these matchups are important, well, that’s because they are - and all of them know it.
Also lost in the narrative is a skater who has been quietly stringing together clean programs for the past two months in competition. Bradie Tennell had the cleanest two performances of any of the American women who were competing this past weekend. After a couple of years of middling results following her U.S. junior title, Tennell is setting herself up to be a spoiler early.
Aaron and Brown both grab silver
On the men's side, two of the skaters gunning for PyeongChang spots took silver at their respective competitions. Of the two, Max Aaron had the stronger skates, looking in form early in the season with his jumps. I also haven't seen him look quite as comfortable in his choreography this earlier in the season - good signs all around.
Jason Brown had a solid showing as well, though his quad toe attempt in the short was not where he would've wanted it to be. As with his preseason, Brown is pacing the difficulty of his programs, here opting for a quadless free skate (in his domestic competitions over the summer, he experimented with the quads but intentionally doubled a number of jumps in the second half). For me, his free skate has incredible potential - a similar look to his Piano free skate from last season but with a grander feel.
More showdowns in the pairs
Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro took the pairs' title at U.S. Classic, but many observers were interested in how the American pairs would do head-to-head. Though Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim ended up as the highest finishing Americans (silver) as expected, it was really Chelsea Liu/Brian Johnson who shocked everyone with their bronze. And they did that by easily beating defending U.S. champs Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier and hotshots Deanna Stellato/Nathan Bartholomay.
American pairs skating - always keeping you on your toes.