The 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships took place this past week in Nashville, Tennessee and the stakes were particularly high for the athletes at this competition. Being an Olympic year, this event served as the final qualifier for skaters to determine who will represent the United States at the Beijing Olympics next month. For the women’s, men’s, and ice dance events, three teams will attend the Olympics, and two teams will go for pairs skating.
The women’s division was the first to complete their competition on Friday night with 25-year-old Mariah Bell becoming the 2022 National Champion. The scores for the women were quite close, with less than 2.5 points separating Bell from Karen Chen’s second-place finish (213.85) and just over 3 points separating Chen from Isabeau Levito in third (210.75). Alysa Liu, a two-time National Champion and favorite heading into this competition had to withdraw from the event due to testing positive for COVID-19. She sat in third place after the women’s short program. Despite being unable to compete, Liu was still selected as a member of the women’s Olympic team alongside Bell and Chen.
The pairs skating and ice dance events concluded on Saturday night. Ashley Cain-Gribble/Timothy LeDuc won gold in the pairs category and were named to the Olympic team. The second pairs spot went to Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier, who were the reigning National Champions going into this competition. Knierim/Frazier were also unable to compete after Frazier tested positive for COVID-19 and the team had to withdraw on Wednesday.
In the ice dance category, Madison Chock/Evan Bates took home their third national title, followed closely by Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue who are also three-time National Champions. Both teams were selected to represent the United States at the Beijing Olympics along with third-place team Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker. Chock/Bates scored 227.37 and with less than a 2 point differential, the second-place team of Hubbell/Donohue earned 225.59 points. The margin between second and third place was much larger, with Hawayek/Baker scoring 205.68.
The men’s division was the last to finish their competition on Sunday afternoon. The five-time reigning National Champion, Nathan Chen, was the clear favorite heading into these championships. The skating superstar did not disappoint, earning his sixth straight national title. It is no surprise to anyone that Chen was named to the Olympic team. Alongside Chen, third-place finisher Vincent Zhou was selected for the Olympics as well as Jason Brown who ended the competition in fourth. 17-year-old Ilia Malinin took home the silver with a stellar performance, but despite his score being over 10 points greater than Brown’s, the selection committee opted to pick Brown to represent the USA due to his dependability and experience. Although the young skater will be missing out on these Olympics, Malinin’s performance shows an extremely bright future for U.S. men’s skating and he is one to watch out for in 2026.