Ilia Malinin: American teenage ice skating phenom makes history


American teenager Ilia Malinin landed the second quadruple axel in competition on Saturday without even a waver.

Competing at Skate America, the 17-year-old’s historic free skate won him gold in his senior Grand Prix debut as the youngest male champion in the event’s history.

Malinin had become the first person to land a quadruple axel in competition last month at the United States International Figure Skating Classic, a lower level event.

But he still wasn’t sure whether to incorporate figure skating’s toughest move into his free skating routine at Skate America.

« This morning I wasn’t really sure whether to try or not, » Malinin told NBC afterwards. « But I think it occurred to me that everyone is watching, I have to go and I went and landed it. I’m still in shock.

« The whole building screamed for at least a few seconds after that, I didn’t even know if the music was still playing. »

Even some of the sport’s most decorated stars have been unable to land a quad axle because it requires four and a half revolutions in the air to go from a forward-facing takeoff to a rear-facing landing. For 44 years, the jump had been locked at a triple.

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu said ahead of the 2022 Beijing Olympics that landing a quadruple axle was his biggest motivation, but when he attempted it at the Games he undertuned slightly and was falls.

Meanwhile, reigning Olympic champion Nathan Chen has landed every other type of quadruple jump except the axel.

So when Malinin – the world junior champion – landed a jump that had eluded so many before him, it marked a remarkable moment in the history of figure skating.

« I was in shock, I didn’t know I had just done that! » he added. “I’m impressed with myself that I was able to pull this off. Even now, I’m still at a loss for words. I don’t know what to say about this. I didn’t know I could do this.

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