Ilia Malinin claims U.S. figure skating title but falters on quad axel


SAN JOSE — Ilia Malinin easily won the U.S. figure skating championship Sunday afternoon, but he looked as though he had lost. He sighed, gazed down at the SAP Center ice and glumly forced a wave to the crowd.

Unable to land the quadruple axel jump that has brought him fame at 18, Malinin also missed two other quad jumps during a free skate that at times looked sluggish, a surprise after he sailed through his short program Friday. But he hit enough other jumps during a challenging session to claim his first U.S. title by scoring 287.74 points for the weekend, more than 10 points ahead of runner-up Jason Brown (277.31). Andrew Torgashev, who had the best free skate score Sunday, finished third with 256.56.

Malinin, a high school senior from Vienna, Va., has quickly become one of the country’s most popular skaters. His Instagram page, named quadg0d, is filled with videos of jaw-dropping jumps. All weekend, the crowds at SAP Center cheered loudly for him, with many arriving early just to watch him practice.

Malinin had burst onto the scene with a surprise silver medal at last year’s national championships that nearly landed him a spot on the U.S. team for the Beijing Olympics. He has said he uses the fact that he wasn’t chosen as motivation.

In September, he became the first person to land skating’s hardest jump, the quad axel, in competition. Then he hit the jump two more times in subsequent competitions. He is still the only skater to have hit the quad axel in an event — and he has started talking about attempting a quintuple jump next season.

Malinin has medaled in all six of his events this season, winning four of them.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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