Ice Network

Chen topples men's field with arsenal of quads

Honda in front of Rydberg, Le in ladies; McNamara, Carpenter lead dance
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Topping his own previous personal-best score by more than 16 points, Nathan Chen cruised to the gold medal with a total of 236.76. His impressive free to "Symphony No.3" by Camille Saint-Saëns featured two quadruple toes, including one in combination with a triple toe. -Daphne Backman

Nathan Chen added to his substantial lead during Friday night's free skate at the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) in Colorado Springs, breaking his own personal-best score by more than 16 points and winning the event by 29.59.

Returning to the JGP scene with hopes of completing a season without complication, Chen took the first step toward that goal, turning in two clean performances to amass an impressive 236.76 points.

"It's about time," Chen chuckled. "I was actually able to train normally leading up to this competition, which is what I was used to before my injuries, so it feels good to be back. It gives me a lot more confidence to feel like this again at the end of an event."

Chen's free skate to "Symphony No.3" by Camille Saint-Saëns opened with a flawless quadruple toe-triple toe combination, followed by a quadruple toe and two triple axels, one of which was in combination with a double toe loop. Three of his 12 elements scored more than 10 points, with four jumping passes taking place in the second half of the program. He gained a segment total of 159.63, more than 10 points higher than his previous personal-best. The victory marks Chen's first JGP gold since 2013 (Mexico, Belarus).

Israel's Daniel Samohin rallied from a seventh-place showing in the short program to earn the silver medal with a total score of 207.17. His free skate featured three attempted quads -- two completed -- for a segment score of 148.64. Japan's Sota Yamamoto rounded out the podium with 203.68 points.

Team USA's Tomoki Hiwatashi cracked the top five in his JGP debut, finishing fifth with a score of 185.66.

American Anthony Boucher placed 10th with 164.33 points.

Ladies

Japan's Marin Honda jumped out to a 2.37-point lead after the ladies short program, gracefully performing to Beethoven's "Spring Sonata No. 5." Her opening triple loop-triple toe combination earned a program-high 10.70 points, and she earned a segment score of 61.05.

Making her JGP debut, Team USA's Paige Rydberg sits second with 58.68 points.

"I just wanted to have a good showing since this was my first international event, and I think I achieved that," Rydberg said. "I was expecting to skate well, but I didn't know how it would all play out or how international judges would like me, but to be the top scoring American -- it gives me chills."

Skating to "Bolero", Rydberg opened her program with a triple flip followed by a triple toe-triple toe combination that seemed to have more speed coming out than going in. She leads Vivian Le, who earned bronze at JGP Slovakia earlier this season, by 1.31 points. Le stumbled on the landing of her triple lutz-triple toe combination and finished with 57.37 points. 

Ice Dance

Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter have a 12-point lead after the short dance, earning 66.25 points. The U.S. junior champions broke their international personal-best short dance score by 11 points.

"I'm at a loss," Carpenter said. "We knew this season was important, and with all the added pressure, we didn't want it all to go to our heads. We just wanted to show how much we love this program, and skating in general."

Taking the ice to "Anitra's Dance" and "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg, McNamara and Carpenter earned Level 4 on four of their five elements. As they embark on their fifth junior season, the Maryland-based team hopes to learn as much as it can from each event.

"The biggest jump you can make is from junior to senior," McNamara said. "We still have the junior eligibility, so why not gain the experience to make the jump to the highest level as strong as you possibly can?"

In second place with 54.88 points are Canada's Mackenzie Bent and Dmitre Razgulajevs, who skated a sophisticated program to "Time After Time" by Margaret Whiting. The duo leads Team USA's Chloe Rose Lewis and Logan Bye by less than a point heading into Saturday's free dance. Lewis and Bye also topped their international personal-best short dance score by more than 10 points, earning 53.57 points.