The first round of the International Grand Prix series started in the USA. Some of the strongest athletes performed in the men’s singles. In the short programs they demonstrated an impressive number of ultra-complex elements.
Nika Egadze, representing Georgia, arrived in Texas with coach Eteri Tutberidze. Nika performed his short program to the sound of “Ave Maria” and presented a cascade of four critical jumps: quadruple salchow, triple tulup, quadruple tulup and triple axel. Although the beginning of his performance had some minor misunderstandings, the judges noted that they evaluated his performance very carefully and, as a result, the scores were not as high as they would have liked. Nika Yegadze received 85.76 points for his skating and is ranked 5th.
The third intermediate place was taken by Japanese Suna Sato, who made a bright impression last season. He did not do well in the first round of the Grand Prix, although he successfully performed a cascade of four jumps: quadruple tulup, triple tulup and triple axel. The judges’ score dropped due to a step-out on the exit of the quadruple flip, despite the large base value of this element. Sato chose the music of “Libertango” in his performance, and despite his talent and expressiveness, he still remains within the typical style of Japanese skaters, which can be interesting, but also relatively standard. The judges awarded Sato 91.61 points.
Unexpectedly, second place went to Kevin Aimoz from France. He has always amazed the audience with his artistry and choreography, but technically he has not always done well. In America he demonstrated an impressive set of elements, including a cascade of four and triple tulups, triple axel and triple lutz. His program was presented under the song “Bird Gerhl”, and Kevin surprised everyone with his skills and interesting choreography. Aimoz scored a high 97.34 points for his routine.
The winner of the first day of the competition was Ilia Malinin. It was expected, as he could compete only with Sato in terms of technique. But the American showed a perfect performance, including a quadruple tulup, a cascade of four lutz – triple tulup and a triple axel. His new short program was presented to the music of “Malagueña”. However, some flaws are visible in the Spanish motifs, such as unclear positions and insufficient body work. Still, the difference in components between him and the Frenchman was only two points in favor of Kevin, which seems strange, but some judges rated the American’s performance higher. Malinin scored 104.06 points for his skating.
At this stage, the judges’ evaluation was ambiguous. Some mistakes were forgiven and some were overlooked, which led to significant differences in results. The second day of competition will be crucial in men’s single skating, as many athletes plan to demonstrate more quadruple jumps. Nevertheless, Ilya Malinin and his technically challenging program make him the main favorite for this stage.