(Reuters) - American Nathan Chen overcame his worst free skate in more than a year to win gold at Skate America in Lake Placid, New York on Saturday.
Chen, the final skater of the night, fell during one jump and had to put his hand on the ice to prevent another tumble during a routine that earned him a disappointing score of 171.76, which was still the second highest of the free skate.
But thanks to the 18-year-old’s 15-plus-point lead after Friday’s short programme, Chen commanded the top spot with a total score of 275.88, locking up a place in his second straight Grand Prix Final in Japan next month.
“Very disappointed with today,” Chen told reporters.
“I came in here with a lot more expectations in terms of what I was going to do. I exerted too much energy (early) and then it took me a little bit to recalculate. I didn’t recalculate properly and so the rest of the programme went downhill from there.”
American team mate Adam Rippon won the free skate with a score of 177.41 despite dislocating his shoulder on his first jump due to a fall. Rippon grabbed silver overall with a score of 266.45.
“For American skating, I think it says a lot,” Rippon said. “It says that in the most important year, an Olympic year, that we’re here and we’re here to challenge for medals in the individual event and we’re here to challenge for the gold medal in the team event.”
Russia’s Sergei Voronov was third at 257.49 followed by China’s Jin Boyang and Yan Han. Ross Miner of the U.S. was sixth.
On the women’s side, Japan’s Satoko Miyahara finished atop the short programme at 70.72.
Miyahara thrived to put a hip injury behind her that had kept her out of competitions this year.
Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto was second (69.40) followed by Canada’s Gabrielle Daleman (68.08) and Bradie Tennell (67.01) of the U.S.
In the pairs competition, Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany came from third to snatch gold with a winning score of 223.13 after a strong showing in the free skate.
China’s Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao stayed in second with a total of 219.20 while Canadian double world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford lost their lead after Friday’s short programme and ended up third.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty