Olympic Medalist Shilese Jones Leads Team USA for Gymnastics World Championships

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Ilia Malinin landed the second quadruple Axel in Skate America history and jumped from fourth place to become the youngest male champion in event history.

Malinin, the 17-year-old junior world champion from Virginia, opened up his free skate on Saturday by landing the toughest quad jump — Axel’s four-and-a-half revolution. He landed five quads in total (one under-rotated) and also fell on a triple Salchow.

Last month, he became the first skater to land a clean, fully-turned Axel quad in competition at a lower-level event.

Malinin rose from fourth place after Friday’s short program to win his senior Grand Prix debut 7.18 points ahead of his 17-year-old compatriot. Kao Miura from Japan.

Earlier, world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier became the first American couple to win a full-fledged Grand Prix in 16 years. Knierim and Frazier dominated the short program and free skate, totaling 201.39 points to beat the Canadians Deanna Stellato – Dudek and Maxime Deschamps by 3.5 points.

Knierim and Frazier, competing in the absence of Russia’s top pairs banned due to the war in Ukraine, became the first American pair to win Skate America since 2006 (not counting 2020, when the field was almost all American due to the pandemic travel restrictions).

Stellato-Dudek, 39, won her first senior Grand Prix medal, 22 years after her Grand Prix debut as a singles skater. Stellato, who retired from singles skating at 17 due to hip injuries, returned to 32 as a pair in 2016.

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American ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates with Japan Kaori Sakamotowomen’s world champion, took the lead after their short programs on Saturday.

Chock and Bates, who finished fourth at the Beijing Olympics, scored 82.63 points for their rumba, despite some errors in the program. They struggled during their spinning lift and Bates bobbled his twizzle.

It was still enough to lead the American teammates Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Boulangerthe Skate America silver medalists two years ago, who scored 79.12 points. Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain le Gac were third with 72.12 points.

In the women’s event, Sakamoto swung through a Janet Jackson medley to score 71.72, although the Olympic bronze medalist followed up her triple flip with a double toe loop rather than another triple.

Sakamoto has a slim lead heading into Sunday’s free skate over a 15-year-old American Isabelle Levito, who scored 71.30 in his senior Grand Prix debut. The highlight was a big opening triple flip, although she underwrote a triple loop on her triple-triple combination later in the program and that was enough to drop her in second place.

Levito’s teammate, Amber Glennfinished third with 68.42 points.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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