Bradie Tennell and Mariah Bell are representing America well at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, where the Japanese were expected to dominate.
Tennell held a narrow lead over defending champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan after the short program, and Bell wasn't far behind in third place.
"I ignore all the hype before I skate," Tennell said. "I think it is great to have two American ladies in the top three."
The 2018 Olympian had her best short program in an international competition with a score of 73.91, which is two points higher than what she had at Golden Spin this season.
That puts her narrowly ahead of Sakamoto, who scored 73.36. Both skated sharp and clean, but Tennell's program had a higher base value in executed elements. Tennell opened with a triple lutz-triple toe loop combination that earned 11.53 points.
"There are things I have to improve upon, but I feel like I performed very well, I'm extremely happy with how I did," Tennell said.
Tennell also led after the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit two weeks ago. She finished second behind 13-year-old Alysa Liu after stepping out of a triple loop in a combination early in her free skate. She also fell attempting a triple lutz.
Even though Tennell is leading a major international competition for the first time, she said she doesn't feel extra pressure going into Friday night's free skate.
WATCH | Tennell leads after short program:
"It doesn't change what I have to do. It's not a big thing over my head," she said. "I go into tomorrow thinking I have a job to do."
Sakamoto, who won Japan's national championship, started her program with a triple flip-triple toe loop combination that earned 11.32 points. She said she struggled on her layback spin, blaming that for her second-place standing.
"I went too sideways on the last spin, and that's where I lost it," Sakamoto said. "But other than that, I can say that my jumps were very good, so I am very satisfied with my performance."
Bell, the only U.S. women's skater at the event with Four Continents experience, had a score of 70.02. Bell trains nearby in Lakewood and gained a lot of confidence early in the program when she executed her triple lutz-triple toe loop combination for 11.20 points.
"I think it was better today, it felt like it had better flow and it was better than the ones I did in the Grand Prix series this past fall," Bell said.
WATCH | Complete coverage of the ladies short program:
South Korea's Eunsoo Lim, who trains in California at the same club as Bell, is fourth. Japan's Rika Kihira was considered the favourite coming into the competition but is fifth after she failed to land her triple axel. Japan's Mai Mihara (JPN), the 2017 Four Continents champion, is eighth after double footing the landing on her triple lutz-triple toe loop combination.
Larkyn Austman is the leading Canadian in 11th with a score of 54.99 ahead of teammate Veronik Mallet, who sits close behind in 12th with a 54.97. Alaine Chartrand is 21st with a 45.89.
Ting Cui of the United State is seventh in her first major senior competition. She started out with a double axel before landing a triple lutz-triple toe loop combination that earned 11.45 points.
It was a strong performance for Cui, who fell twice and failed to land a combination during the short program at nationals two weeks ago.
"When I landed the combination I was happy I was able to complete it," Cui said. "My legs were a little shaky during footwork and some spins due to some nerves, but overall I am happy with my performance."
Published at Fri, 08 Feb 2019 01:10:15 +0000