San Jose, California – Ilya Malin It’s clear he has mixed feelings when he remembers winning his first US figure skating title.
That much was evident from his reaction after completing Sunday’s free skate.
The 18-year-old, who has limitless potential and seemingly boundless confidence, was blown away by his free skate during the season.
He shook his head sadly. Then he shook it again.
“Obviously this wasn’t the ski I wanted, but there are always ups and downs, and you just get over it and keep going,” Malinin said.
Image of Skating Nations: Full results
In the second half of the four minutes, he planned the hardest technical program anyone had attempted, setting up six quadruple jumps and two challenging combinations. And he surprisingly continued to try to execute it even after serious mistakes Andrew Torgashev In free skating.
Malinin (287.74 total points) still finished comfortably ahead of Green Jason Brown (277.31) Torgashev was third overall with 256.56.
Malinin managed to fake his best short program of the season, rather than the fluency that produced it on Friday.
“I was a little slow, and I wasn’t ready for what was going to happen,” he said.
Malini fell on the opening jump, a quadruple axel, then landed another three quads flawlessly. He doubled up two other planned quads, then changed his final jump pass, which had been planned as a sequence of two jumps, into an unprecedented triple Lutz-triple Axel-triple toe loop sequence. For context: only Malinin performed a triple Lutz-triple Axel sequence.
“I don’t think I really planned it,” he said. “I don’t think I was really prepared for this amount. And mostly because we were focused on that short program.
The 28-year-old Brown, who first competed at senior nationals 12 years ago, skated impressively. Barring a fall on the final free skate jump, a triple flip off a knee slide, Brown’s overall performance was as good as he’s done at the U.S. championships in both the short and free skates.
With his longevity and insight, Brown, a two-time Olympian and seven-time national medalist (gold in 2015), was able to put what happened to Malinin in perspective and encourage him not to lose faith in him.
Brown heard the press conference questions about what’s going wrong with Malini, legitimate and expected questions, and his younger teammate didn’t want to focus on them.
“At the end of your program, you did a triple Lutz-triple Axel-triple toe, and I slipped on my knee and couldn’t stand to flip,” Brown told Malini, sitting near the dais.
“The way she pushes the sport is unbelievable. So don’t stop being you.
Malini, who was an unexpected second at last year’s nationals, came here the brightest he’d ever been, largely because of his historic feat of landing a quad axle earlier this season.
Proof of his choice of social media moniker Quadg0D for his disarming bravado, Malini is not immune to the pressures of a big event and the status quo.
“There’s a certain amount of experience (necessary) that takes time to acquire,” Brown said. “I’ve been through everything. I had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of ups and downs. As you (Malinin) said, it’s how you take this experience and learn from it and grow. This is what you do.
Both Malinin and Brown leave Monday to perform eight shows in three Swiss cities over 11 days on the Art of Ice Tour. Both are expected to be on the US team for the world championships in Japan this March.
Malinin will leave the title and the satisfaction, considering the big lead after the short program.
“It was an opportunity for me to try this new position,” Malinin said. “It didn’t really turn out well. We will take advice from this and look forward to the worlds.
Philip Hersch, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com.
OlympTalk is on. Apple news. Our favorite!