Alpine skiing World Cup season opener cancelled due to bad weather

Kao Miura took advantage of Japanese compatriot Yuma Kagiyama’s withdrawal, along with an unusual fall from American rival Ilia Malinin, to take the lead after Friday night’s Skate America short program.

Miura, 17, landed a grand opening quad salchow-triple toe loop along with a triple axel and a quad toe loop to score a personal best 94.96 points at the Tenley E. Albright Performance Center near Boston . That gave Miura a narrow lead over South Korea’s Cha Junhwan, who breezed through a Michael Jackson medley to score 94.44 points.

“I’m kind of like, ‘Why am I sitting here?’ Miura said afterwards. “And because I did everything I was supposed to do on the ice. I tried to be confident on the ice and that worked for me.”

Italy’s Daniel Grassl was third with 88.43 points, while Malinin, the 17-year-old who made history by landing the first quad axel in the competition, was fourth after a fall on the four-toe loop at left with 86.06 points.

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“I think at first I felt very confident about it. I was very much in the moment,” said Malinin, the junior world champion, who was making his senior Grand Prix debut. “After that little fall, I threw myself a little bit. I had to brush it off and get on with the rest of the program.”

In the pairs competition, American duo Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier scored 75.19 points in their short program to take the lead over Canada’s Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps, who had 73.05 points.

Malinin became the favorite at Skate America when Kagiyama, the Olympic silver medalist, withdrew from the opening Grand Prix event due to injury. But it was Miura, the 17-year-old Japanese junior champion, who took the lead in free play thanks to a technical score more than five points higher than anyone else.

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It was eight points ahead of Malinin, who may need to land his quad axel Saturday night to have a chance.

“It really depends on how I feel personally,” Malinin said of attempting the 4 1/2 jump.

Knierim and Frazier, who helped the U.S. win team silver at the Beijing Olympics, were heavy favorites at Skate America after taking advantage of the absence of strong Russian teams to win their first world title earlier this year.

Playing “Separate Ways” by American rock band Journey, Knierim and Frazier wowed a sold-out crowd with their opening triple twist. Frazier landed two feet on the triple loop, but the 2021 Skate America champions came back with a beautiful triple toss to earn a solid score for the component.

“I’ve never started my season at a Grand Prix before,” Frazier said. “There was a lot of positivity out there tonight. It was a bit of a struggle tonight, but it was our starting base.”

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Still, Knierim and Frazier were expected to appear on the Grand Prix stage. The surprise came from Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps, whose rendition of Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion put them firmly in second place.

The lower level Nebelhorn Trophy winners from earlier this year were solid from the opening triple twist, through the side-by-side triple toe and into the triple toss loop to stay in gold medal range.

Germany’s Letizia Roscher and Luis Schuster were well behind in third place with 54.87 points.

“We’re very happy with our performance, happy to be here,” said Stellato-Dudek, who calls Chicago home and previously skated for the USA. “It’s kind of a homecoming for me. It’s like my wedding. It’s like I know everyone.”

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