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Isabeau Levito edges Amber Glenn in figure skating nationals short program

In a captivating twist at the Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships, defending champion Isabeau Levito holds a narrow lead of merely four tenths of a point over Amber Glenn after the short program. Levito, a 16-year-old talent, unveiled a new program in Columbus, Ohio, amassing 75.38 points despite a minor hiccup in her closing spin. Her lead is attributed to executing more challenging jumps than Glenn, a former U.S. silver and bronze medalist.

Reflecting on her performance, Levito expressed contentment, highlighting the seamless flow of her program and the need to push past hesitations. On the flip side, 24-year-old Glenn, eyeing her first gold in her ninth senior nationals, shared her elation at the tangible payoff from rigorous training.

In the standings, Clare Seo, the 2022 U.S. junior champion, occupies the third spot, trailing Glenn by a considerable 7.57 points. The outcome will be determined in the free skate on Friday, adding suspense to the championships.

This competition holds broader implications as it decides which two women will represent the U.S. at the world championships in Montreal in March. While Levito stands as the reigning U.S. woman after her nationals win last season, Ava Ziegler, a Grand Prix event victor, is also in contention. Ziegler, however, has opted to skip nationals, focusing on the Four Continents Championships in China next week.

Levito, who made waves as the first U.S. woman in seven years to win an international Grand Prix Series event, entered nationals with the highest scores among American women this season. On the other hand, Glenn, who secured silver at the 2021 Nationals and bronze in 2023, showcases resilience after withdrawing from the 2022 Nationals due to a COVID-19 bout. Notably, Glenn achieved a historic milestone in October by landing a triple Axel, becoming the sixth U.S. woman to do so in competition.

Shifting to the ice dance realm, Madison Chock and Evan Bates assumed the lead in the rhythm dance, aspiring to clinch their fifth national title. Their impressive score of 92.17 points positions them nearly nine points ahead of their closest competitors, Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko.

The pairs’ short program saw Emily Chan and Spencer Howe taking the lead, only to withdraw from the competition a few hours later. Despite marking a significant milestone in their comeback after ten months, Chan and Howe opted for a strategic approach, prioritizing continued healing for sustained success.

Despite their withdrawal, Chan and Howe remain eligible for one of the three U.S. pairs’ spots for worlds. They plan to file a petition for consideration as they navigate the complexities of their return, particularly after Howe’s shoulder surgery in May.

As the championships progress with the free skate, the stage is set for athletes to vie for titles and coveted spots on the world stage across various figure skating disciplines.

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