According to the results of the first day of the women’s competition at the Skate America Grand Prix, there was no intrigue. Belgian skater Luna Hendricks held the lead with a small gap, followed by two Americans. The top three skaters performed the short program with such confidence that it seemed that no one could prevent them from competing for medals. However, many skaters faced difficulties on the ice, especially with the clean execution of elements.
The first group of skaters did not impress with clean free skating programs. At the beginning of the season, mistakes were inevitable, especially for those who were returning to the competition ice for the first time after the off-season. Japanese figure skater Hana Yoshida, who was included in this group, was here by chance. Nevertheless, she demonstrated a triple axel despite an undercurl and a step-out. Hana regretted the misses, given that she did well during the warm-up. But the important thing is that she didn’t give up and achieved a successful completion of her performance. She received 131.58 points for her free skating program, which allowed her to move up from ninth position to fourth and get closer to the medals.
Another triple axel attempt was the free skating program for American Amber Glenn. This 23-year-old figure skater has been trying to master this difficult element for a long time, and finally she succeeded. The first half of her program was excellent, but then there were problems. On one of the last jumps Glenn lost her balance and fell, which affected the result. As a result of two falls and errors in the rittberger, she not only missed the chance for silver, but even failed to take bronze. Her performance was rated 118.18 points and she placed fifth.
Glenn’s failure paved the way for a historic moment. Estonian figure skater Nina Petrykina chose a free skating program from last season that she really liked. Her performance looked visually clean, although a close look revealed undercuts and losses in element complexity. But for the start of the season it was a great start, with no major errors or lapses in element execution. For her performance she received 129.53 points, which is almost a point higher than her personal record. And it seems that she herself did not expect to get on the Grand Prix podium.
Isabeau Levito from the USA performed in the free program to the music of “The White Raven” and presented a ballet style. She managed to embody the choreography well and approached this style with plasticity. The only comment could be the overly embellished top of her dress, which seemed unnecessarily heavy. She fought for every element, but some of the jumps were underdone. She received 138.08 points for her performance and won the silver medal of the stage.
Luna Hendricks became the queen of the Grand Prix stage in the USA, both literally and figuratively. The Belgian skater chose the song “Break my soul” performed by Beyoncé, although not the original version, but a remix featuring Madonna. Together with the choreographer, Hendricks introduced into her program several dance moments inspired by the singer’s performances to immerse the audience in the atmosphere of the concert as much as possible. Luna was initially hesitant to include a triple lutz-triple toeloop cascade in her program due to limited preparation, as the start of full training was delayed due to summer shows. Nevertheless, the skater decided to take a risk and successfully coped with this content, except for a small under-twist on toeloop. All other elements were performed confidently and received high scores. Luna Hendricks earned 145.36 points, which earned her her first win of the 2023 – 24 season.
There was a mix-up with the flags at the figure skaters’ awards ceremony. Instead of using cloth flags, the organizers showed images of the flags on a big screen. However, instead of the Estonian tricolor, the Japanese flag was shown by mistake. Probably there was a mistake in processing the results, as Hana Yeshida took third place in the free program, but the final bronze medal went to Nina Petrykina. This situation seemed strange at such a high level competition.