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Miyahara takes control at Skate America

LAKE PLACID, NEW YORK – Satoko Miyahara led Skate America after the ladies short program on Saturday, a promising sign for the 19-year-old Olympic hopeful following a hip injury that’s ruined much of her season.

The three-time national champion missed Four Continents and worlds because of her hip, then finished fifth in the Grand Prix event in Japan. Her score of 70.72 beat out Kaori Sakamoto at 69.40 and Canada’s Gabrielle Daleman at 68.08.

“My body condition and feeling of skating is getting better and better day by day,” Miyahara said. “I have a lot of things to do for nationals, but I think now I’m skating consistently.”

American Bradie Tennell was fourth at 67.01 in the 19-year-old’s Grand Prix debut. Ashley Wagner was sixth after under-rotating two of her jumps, and Karen Chen was ninth after falling and nearly slapping her face on the ice on a failed triple loop.

In the men’s competition, Nathan Chen ended up on all fours after one of his quad jumps went awry, and fellow American Adam Rippon’s quad ended in a dislocated shoulder.

They still couldn’t be topped.

Chen locked up a spot in his second straight Grand Prix Final, winning the men’s competition despite a subpar free skate. Rippon finished second and also qualified for a second straight year even though his right shoulder popped out on his first jump.

Chen struggled on a few of his five quad attempts, including a fall on a quad flip early in the program.

“Very disappointed,” Chen said.

The 18-year-old breakout star still cruised into the Final with a score of 275.88. Chen finished second at last year’s Final. This year’s event is next month in Nagoya.

Takahito Mura finished seventh after scoring 137.72 to finish eighth in the free skate, ending the competition with a 212.77 total.

“In a word — it’s frustrating,” Mura said. “It made me realize once again that this is my current ability.”

Chen also won the Grand Prix program in Russia this year. He earned a U.S. championship in January by becoming the first skater to land five quads in one free skate and did it again at Four Continents in February on the Pyeongchang Olympic rink.

His goal is to land five quads in South Korea again in February for a gold medal, which means there’s work ahead. After seeing his score Saturday, Chen turned to coach Rafael Arutunian and said “sorry.”

“It wasn’t necessarily about the scores. It was about the performance,” Chen said. “We worked really hard and it definitely did not show tonight.”

Rippon dislocated his shoulder falling on a quad lutz. He stood and shook his arm back into place, stopped to look at his coach, and decided to keep going.

The 28-year-old skated almost flawlessly from there, winning the free-skate portion over Chen 177.41 to 171.76 and punching his Final ticket with an overall score of 266.45.

“I love drama,” Rippon said with a smile.

Russia’s Sergei Voronov was third at 257.49 and also earned a Final spot. Ross Miner, the other U.S. skater, finished sixth.

Israel’s Daniel Samohin withdrew after dislocating his left shoulder on a gruesome fall. Samohin’s arm dangled at his side as he skated off, and young girls in the stands cried as he left. He was taken to a hospital for X-rays.

Samohin’s injury came just a few minutes before Rippon’s.

“I heard, ‘Oh my God, he dislocated his shoulder,’ ” Rippon said. “I was like, ‘I know how bad that feels.’ “

American ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani put themselves on track for a second Grand Prix event victory by winning the short dance. The Shibutanis won the Grand Prix event at Russia earlier this year and are aiming to qualify for the Final in Nagoya next month.

Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte were second at 72.70, and Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov were third at 68.72.

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