Ilia Malinin repeated as the U.S. men’s champion on the final day of the 2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Columbus, Ohio, outdistancing the field by nearly 30 points.
The 19-year-old from Virginia landed three quads, including his signature quad Axel, while performing to music from the Succession soundtrack by Nicholas Britell. He successfully landed three of the first four quads planned in his free skate, doubling the loop.
He missed on two more quad attempts and had one fall but delivered Level 4 spins and footwork.
“It was a fun skate, especially with all the problems I’ve had the past week with all the boot issues,” Malinin said. “The crowd was really supportive, cheering me on. It was an amazing feeling they gave me through the whole competition.”
Malinin, who led after the short program by nearly 20 points, posted a free skate score of 185.78, 10 points better than the next skater. He finished with an overall score of 294.35.
Two-time Olympian Jason Brown repeated as the silver medalist with his performance to Josh Groban’s “The Impossible Dream.”
The Toronto-based skater, third after the short program, delivered another riveting performance to a program he brought back from last season. He placed second in the segment with a score of 175.48 and posted an overall score of 264.50.
Brown, 29, became the oldest man to make a U.S. podium since Todd Eldredge won the 2002 title at 30. The podium finish also marks the ninth of his career at the championship level.
His program included an opening triple Axel-double Axel combination followed by a triple Axel. Brown also received Level 4s for all his spins and footwork. He received the event’s highest program component scores.
He credited the large crowd in Columbus with bringing out the best in each skater.
“Atmosphere is huge when it comes to the performance side, because we are performers and we are trying to play off the audience and play off the crowd and the atmosphere makes a huge difference.”
When asked, Brown said he plans to continue touring as a professional next season while still competing as part of Team USA.
“I don’t know what that will look like,” Brown said. “Last year’s path to nationals was different than this year’s path to nationals, and I’m sure next year’s path to nationals will be different again. So I’m learning and navigating as I go.”
Veteran Camden Pulkinen finished on the championship podium for the first time in his career that started in 2011, posting personal-best free skate and overall scores en route to the bronze medal.
A student at Columbia University in New York, Pulkinen was nearly flawless in his free skate to music from Tosca by Giacomo Puccini. His score of 174.43 included landing an opening quad toe loop, followed by seven triples, three in combination. His step sequence and one spin received Level 4s. He posted an overall score of 262.63, a U.S. personal best.
The only major miscue came when he singled a triple Salchow that was at the end of a combination.
“I’m happy with it, a little upset about the Salchow, wish it would have been a little more there,” Pulkinen, who was fifth after the short program, said. “But overall happy with how I skated, happy to be on the podium finally, putting together two complete programs here, which was honestly the goal.”
Pulkinen, who trains in New York and California, credited his hard work in practice and learning how to train for competitions while balancing the rigors of an academic workload for his success.
“So even though I was nervous, I knew I had the base to fall back on and push me through that program,” he said.
Maxim Naumov turned in stellar program of his own, setting a new personal best score of 260.50 en route to his second consecutive pewter medal. He, like Pulkinen, performed to Tosca.
The Boston-based skater started on fire, landing a quad Salchow as well four triples on his next three jumping passes. He followed those up with a Level 4 combination spin. His only major mistake came on the subsequent triple Axel, in which he fell. He posted a free skate score of 170.78, less than a point off his previous best.
“I was just staying as focused as much as I could, just trying to stay in the zone,” said Naumov, who had to follow the loud applause after Jason Brown’s emotional skate. “It’s good practice to hear a really high score and the crowd going crazy right before. I’m sure a lot of skaters can relate to being in that high pressure, high-stakes environment. I was able to cool it, keep it under control and remember why I am here.
“That little tiny mistake it definitely cost me, but I’m still glad I went for it. I’d rather go for it and fall than not go for it and wonder what would have happened if I did.”
For full results at the U.S. Championships, news and more, visit the 2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships event page.