Scoreography Episode 005 — US Nationals 2023

US Nationals 2023 Recap

We discuss the US Nationals 2023 competitions: the triumphant return of Jason Brown, amazing skates from Ilia Malinin and Isabeau Levito, and controversy around the scoring of womens second place finisher Bradie Tennell.
February 2, 2023

Scoreography recap of the US Nationals 2023 Competitions in San Jose, California

Welcome to 2023 and the back half of figure skating season!

Where have we been? Between the holidays and work, we found it extremely hard to watch skating in real time. That combined with the challenges of finding replays available, we… got behind. We may go back and talk about some of the best moments we did get to see in a few weeks for our World Championships preview, but today it’s all about the U.S. Figure Skating Championships!

Held from Jan. 23-29 in San Jose, California, the 2023 U.S. Nationals was a mix of some big, beautiful moments (looking at you, JASON BROWN!!), some expected gold medalists meeting the moment, and a lot more of skaters either on their way up — or struggling through their “mid.”

In this episode we dig into the good and not so great from the mens, ladies, dance, and pairs competition.

Men’s Highlights:

Ilia Malinin came through and, as expected, claimed “his” national title… but Jason Brown stole the show.

Ilia broke his short program “curse”, while Jason skated what may be the finest short program we’ve ever scene. From anyone. Period.

Long programs were both flawed, but Ilia’s quads and his STUNNING 3 lutz/3 axel/3 toe loop at the very end of the program gave him a clear victory.

Regardless of the jumps, Jason’s long program reminded everyone in person and at home why skating is an art form and a sport — with a performance that (mathematically) could have stolen the gold had he not fallen on the last jump.

An unexpected long program performance from Andrew Torgashev gave him a surprise bronze and (hopefully) a trip to the World Championships.  

The only thing that could prevent that trip is if Andrew cannot attain a minimum technical score at an international event before the competition. After missing much of the last two seasons with injuries, he hasn’t achieved that yet this year.

Notable mention: Jimmy Ma’s free skate! We love some Jimmy Ma, and were thrilled to see him come back from a rough short to pull up to fifth and easily take the award for biggest hype of the competition.

Womens Highlights

The big story was the judging — particularly in the short program.

A number of questionable calls — and non-calls —on under rotations marred the short program. Bradie Tennell’s comeback from injuries is great to see, but a former choreographer of hers was on the technical panel, which caused understandable backlash when she was not called for the under rotations fellow competitors were.

Regardless of the questionable judging, Isabeau Levito was near-flawless in both of her programs and the clear winner of her first National title.

Bradie Tennell was definitely stronger than we’ve seen since her injury, and certainly earned her spot to Worlds… but, in our opinion, should have been bronze, not silver.

Amber Glenn was not perfect, but extremely strong in both programs, even (mostly) landing her triple axel. Unfortunately, after being underscored in the short, catching up in the long wasn’t in the cards and she took 3rd. Still, a trip to Worlds is in her future!

Starr Andrew had a F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S. short program, putting her in medal contention, but 2 big errors in the long turned that medal pewter. Still, a HUGE accomplishment and step forward for her — notably making her the first black woman to medal in Senior Ladies at National in three decades! PLEASE can we see more of this in the future!

Our unsung hero and face to watch for Nationals: Josephine Lee! She placed fifth with an incredible long program and set herself up as one to keep on your radar. She’s a beast!

Dance Highlights

With Hawayek and Baker out due to injury (WE MISSED YOU!), this competition was essentially the Chock and Bates show — and they absolutely gave us a show on their way to a fourth National title!

Their season has been hot and cold, but their short program here absolutely sizzled. Near flawless, with Madison reminding everyone watching why she’s the most magnetic skater in the sport.

Their program is still evolving — and is definitely polarizing — but they’ve improved it dramatically and it now feels far closer to their usual level of greatness. We don’t love the music, but we do love them — and this progression certainly makes their push for a World Championship title more interesting!

Caroline Green and Michale Parsons were solid, with a genuinely stunning lift in the short, and came through for Silver. Their programs this year are just not quite up to the promise of last year’s performances, so we’re hoping to see more innovation coming from this very talented team.

Third place Bronze medals went to Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko with a strong, if unmemorable, showing. They’ve come a long way, but we’re waiting for a “wow” moment from this team.

Pairs Highlights

Reigning WORLD CHAMPIONS Alexa Knierim and Brandon Fraser reclaimed their National title with their best programs of the season. To be blunt, they were in a class all by themselves — and their only competition was themselves.

In second for the silver, Emily Chan and Spencer Howe improved upon their performances from earlier in the season and showed they have a lot of potential going into the years leading to the next Olympic Games.

The rest of the pairs teams weren’t really ready for this senior level of competition. With side by side double jumps, weak throws, and some very undeveloped lifts, this field left us feeling distinctly underwhelmed.

Scoreography — A Figure Skating Podcast hosted by Wendy Buske and Adron Buske

Scoreography Podcast

Scoreography is a show about the art, athleticism, culture, and entertainment of Figure Skating. We discuss current competitions, the sports history and legacy, up-and-coming skaters and absolute legends, and the action outside of the rink. 

Whether you’re new to the sport’s fandom, a once-in-awhile watcher, or a seasoned skating veteran, you’ll find something to enjoy in our program. 

More Episodes