Nothing can last forever — but Michal Brezina’s reign of being an international contender may come close.
Skating to a melody of Bryan Adams songs (yes, including “Summer of ‘69”), the three-time Olympian from the Czech Republic skated the best long program of the evening to win the men’s event Friday at the 2021 US International Figure Skating Classic at Norwood’s Skating Club of Boston.
His winning skate included a quadruple Salchow and five triple jumps, with the only errors a popped triple Axel and finishing his closing spin after the music ended. Earning a 151.17 for the long program, his overall score of 238.65 earned him the title.
Jimmy Ma landed a beautiful opening quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop to open his “Attack on Titan” long program. Though the Boston-based skater struggled with the four jumps that followed, he fought back on a triple Lutz combination and finished the remainder of the program clean to earn a score of 149.51 and the silver medal.
“It’s a good feeling to walk away with a medal,” said Ma. “It gets the ball rolling for the season and hopefully I can keep building momentum.”
Young American Eric Sjoberg made the most of his first senior international event, capturing the bronze medal with an overall score of 221.12. The 20-year-old’s only miscue was popping his opening triple Axel into a single, and though he was visibly disappointed in his performance, this medal was a major step in his international career.
Americans took three of the top four places, with veteran Camden Pulkinen moving up from sixth in Thursday’s short program to fourth overall with one of his most commanding performances in recent memory. Maxim Naumov, who also skates out of the Skating Club of Boston, struggled in the long program, finishing sixth.
It was no surprise Alexandra Trusova took the lead in the women’s short program, but what was surprising was how small the margin was between her and the second-place finisher, South Korea’s Yeonjeong Park.
Trusova, bronze medalist at last year’s World Championships, fell on the opening triple Axel of her Spanish-style routine, but landed her subsequent triple flip and triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination. Her dynamic footwork demonstrated a variety of movement and earned a high grade of execution, helping her earn a score of 74.75.
But Park used an elegant and balletic program to put herself within striking distance of the Russian. She landed an airy triple Lutz as part of her triple-triple combination and had great flow out of her other jumps. Her closing change foot combination spin was well-received, and she scored 71.07.
Harvard sophomore Gabriella Izzo skated an inspired short program to an Edith Piaf melody to open the women’s event. It ended up being one of the best short programs of the Brighton native’s career. She landed every jump, including a difficult triple flip-triple loop combination, where the second jump required her to muscle into the entry without the assistance of her toepick. Her 63.96 placed her in third.
Americans Sierra Venetta and Paige Rydberg closed out the top five heading into Saturday night’s long program.
The second day of the US International Figure Skating Classic began with the lively first part of the ice dance competition, the rhythm dance. This season’s set theme is “street dance,” which can incorporate hip-hop, rap and R&B music. While some couples struggled to get into the theme, others leaned in, showing off already well-polished segments of hip-hop and jazz dance.
Reigning world silver medalists Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue trotted out their Janet Jackson rhythm dance for the first time in competition. Though it still needs some seasoning, the program had good flow and excellent twizzles (a form of footwork where skaters turn quickly on one-foot multiple times in a row), easily earning them first place with an 84.06.
“We had a lot of fun with this program and we are just starting to dive into what it can be,” said Donohue.
Diana Davis and Gleb Smolkin, Russians who train in Michigan, are in second heading into Saturday’s free dance. The pair’s rhythm dance began with music from the Black Eyed Peas, and while tentative, was technically sound. They scored a 75.21.
South Korea’s Yura Min and Daniel Eaton rounded out the top three, while the cleverly selected “Bye, Bye, Bye” routine of the US couple of Eva Pate and Logan Bye had them in fourth.