The best in the U.S. will head to San Jose for the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Originally, San Jose was tapped to host the 2021 championships, however the event was moved to Las Vegas during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the fourth time the event has been held in San Jose and champions will be crowned at the junior and senior levels.
The senior event includes 15 teams and is headlined by three-time U.S. Champions and Olympians Madison Chock & Evan Bates. The field is one of the deepest in recent years. Team USA also had the luxury of 10 different teams getting assigned to Grand Prix assignments last Fall, which allowed couples to gain valuable international experience.
Chock and Bates are the 2022 champions. The team took time off after the busy Olympic season and did not compete at an international event prior to their Grand Prix assignments. At Skate America, they won the event, but finished second in the free dance behind training mates Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker. At their second Grand Prix, they finished second behind Canada’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen. The team bounced back with a silver medal at the Grand Prix Final and head into Nationals with positive momentum.
Last year’s bronze medalists Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker were set to achieve their highest finish at a U.S. Championships, but announced their withdrawal from Nationals last Tuesday. Hawayek & Baker are four-time bronze medalists, winning a total of six medals at Nationals. This season, they qualified for their second Grand Prix Final since 2018.
“After much consideration, we have decided to withdraw from the 2023 Toyota U.S. Championships. Over the past 18 months, our team has dealt with significant physical injuries that have led to challenges in our mental health and we feel it is in our best interest to prioritize this currently. We are grateful to have the collective support of our whole team behind this decision and cannot thank them enough. We will use this time to come back stronger with the intention to petition for a spot on the 2023 World Team.”
Caroline Green & Michael Parsons, who won the pewter medal at the 2021 and 2022 U.S. Championships, left their long-time coaches for a fresh start in a new training environment at the Michigan Ice Dance Academy (MIDA). Under their new coaching team, they won their first Grand Prix medal at NHK Trophy.
2020 Pewter medalists Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko missed the 2021 U.S Championships. After finishing seventh at 2022 U.S. Nationals, Carreira & Ponomarenko rebounded with a Four Continents bronze medal. Their style has evolved since relocating to Ontario, Canada to train at the I.AM facility led by coach Scott Moir. The team won Golden Spin of Zagreb and finished fourth at both Grand Prix Espoo and MK John Wilson Trophy.
Other teams that are in the mix for medals:
Eva Pate & Logan Bye medaled at three of their international assignments and finished fifth at their Grand Prix assignment in France.
Lorraine McNamara & Anton Spiridonov are coming off a silver medal win at the World University Games in Lake Placid.
Emily Bratti & Ian Somerville won Ice Challenge and were sixth at Skate Canada.
Two new teams with potential to break through are Emilea Zingas & Vadym Kolesnik, who won gold at the Ice Dance Final and bronze at Golden Spin of Zagreb and Isabella Flores & Ivan Desyatov who were second at the Ice Dance Final.
Most of the podium from last year’s event returns, including 2022 champions Leah Neset & Artem Markelov. Additional medal contenders include five teams who competed for the first time on the Junior Grand Prix series last Fall.
Neset & Markelov won bronze at the JGP event in Italy and narrowly won the Ice Dance Final in November. A mistake in the free dance nearly cost them the title. The team trains in Colorado with coach Elena Dostatni.
Helena Carhart & Volodymyr Horovyi won the free dance and the silver medal at the Ice Dance Final, and nearly won the event. They finished fifth and eighth at their JGP events. Carhart & Horovyi train in Florida with coaches Marina Zoueva and Ilia Tkachenko.
Jenna Hauer & Benjamin Starr won the bronze medal at the Ice Dance Final and finished fourth and fifth at their JGP competitions. Hauer & Starr train in Connecticut with Svetlana Kulikova.
Vanessa Pham & Jonathan Rogers won a bronze medal at their JGP debut in Courchevel, France, and finished fourth at their second assignment in Latvia. They were fourth at the Ice Dance Final and nationals in 2022. Pham & Rogers train in Texas with coach Roman Zaretsky.
Siblings Elliana Peal and Ethan Peal won the bronze medal at the 2022 U.S. Championships. They were fourth and sixth at their JGP assignments last Fall and fifth at the Ice Dance Final. The Peals are coached by their father, Rob Peal and train in Tennessee.
Kristina Bland & Matthew Sperry finished sixth at the Ice Dance Final and 10th at their JGP event in Poland. Bland & Sperry are coached by Igor Shpilband and train in Michigan.
U.S. FIGURE SKATING NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT CAMP
This year, U.S. Figure Skating will be holding their 2023 High Performance National Development Camp during Nationals in San Jose, instead of after the event. Novice, intermediate and juvenile teams qualified to be part of the National Development Team and attend the camp via their placements at the Ice Dance Final.