Mariah Bell tops Karen Chen at the US Figure Skating Championships – San Bernardino Sun

By DAVE SKRETTA Writer AP Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mariah Bell has come to the US Figure Skating Championships 9 times without standing at the top of the podium.

She finished second once. Third a few times. A disappointing Thursday four years ago, when the always smiling Bell came to the national team as one of the leading contenders for the women’s triple team heading into that year’s Winter Olympics.

All those bitter disappointments make Friday night all the sweeter.

Putting together a mesmerizing freestyle skate in front of kd lang’s performance of Leonard Cohen’s staple “Hallelujah,” 25-year-old Bell became the oldest skater in 95 years to win the title. national champion. And by edging out Karen Chen for the gold medal, Bell is likely locking in a long-awaited spot on the Olympic team to Beijing.

“There was definitely a time when, I don’t know, times were tough and you just wanted to,” said Bell, who trains at the Great Park Ice in Irvine with coach Rafael Arutyunyan and former American male competitor Adam Rippon. Call it renunciation. “It’s really exciting to be a little older and to show that you can do it when you’re young and when you’re older. I’m 25. It’s not like the ancient me. But in skating, I’m like that. And I want it to be a known fact that skating doesn’t end at a certain age. ”

Bell narrowly took the lead after a spectacular short show, but it took an equally stunning performance on Friday night to thwart Chen’s pursuit of a second title. Bell earned 140.70 points in freestyle for a total of 216.25, putting her by almost three points ahead of Chen and six points above 14-year-old bronze medalist Isabeau Levito.

Levito nearly stole the show on her high-profile national team debut, incorporating a series of easy triple jumps in music from “Swan Lake.” But there’s no such thing as stealing an Olympic venue – she’s too young to compete in Beijing.

“I’m excited because my goal is a medal, so I mean, here I am,” she said. “It’s a good show.”

While Bell and Chen were locked in when the USA Figure Skating selection committee announced the women’s triple team on Saturday, the remaining spot is likely to go to Alysa Liu. The two-time national champion finished third behind her short program but had to withdraw earlier on Friday after testing positive for COVID-19.

“Obviously that’s unfortunate,” says Bell, “but this variation is really serious and people are catching it left and right, so it’s a shame she can’t do the long show. But she’s had a great season supporting her. ”

However, news of Liu’s positive test – and one of Amber Glenn’s later in the day – sent shockwaves through the rest of the skaters.

“Definitely very, very shocking news and very sad to hear,” Chen said. “I gave myself 10 minutes to think about it. That’s my thing now. I tend to overthink and over-analyze. Then you have to focus on skating.”

The 2014 Olympian Gracie Gold placed 10th, struggling in the freestyle after finishing sixth in the short show.

Earlier in the day, Madison Chock and Evan Bates overcame the tiniest of gaps created by training partners and friendly competitors Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue to win the rhythmic dance competition. .

Dancing to a medley of Billie Eilish songs, Chock and Bates performed to perfection as they lifted their curves, matched their brilliant turns, and knocked the house down with their closing sequence. Their finish came in at 91.94 points – their highest score ever in the national team and more than two points higher than any point posted during the Grand Prix season.

“It was a real testament to our training,” says Chock. “Since the Grand Prix final was cancelled, we had more time to prepare than we could have and we took advantage of that, polishing and smoothing the details.” Mariah Bell tops Karen Chen at the US Figure Skating Championships – San Bernardino Sun

Huynh Nguyen

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