SAN JOSE, Calif. – Good thing Jeremy Abbott was the final skater.
There was no way anyone could have topped this performance.
Needing only to stay on his feet to win his third title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Sunday, Abbott performed with a quiet elegance and superior skill that was simply bewitching. The audience was so spellbound you could hear his blades carving the ice, and it wasn’t until the final notes of his music faded that fans erupted in applause.
“I skate to give a performance like that and so I felt really good,” Abbott said. “I was really nervous when I started, I was shaking a little bit. But from the second I set for the quad I was like, ‘I’m going to do this.’ I just really took it into my hands and made sure that I did what I needed to do.”
His final score of 273.58 was the highest ever at the U.S. championships.
Adam Rippon, a two-time junior world champion, was second. Ross Miner finished third for a second consecutive year.
Earlier Sunday, Caydee Denney and John Coughlin won their first pairs title together after winning the previous two years with other partners.
Abbott is one of the most technically sound skaters in the world, with beautiful edges that carve the ice like a master craftsman and perfect body control. He’s also one of the few skaters who has managed to maintain the balance between the performance quality that makes figure skating so entertaining and the tough physical tricks the system now demands.
But he’s had a tendency to fall apart on the big stage, flopping at the 2009 world championships and again at the Vancouver Olympics.
On Saturday night, Ashley Wagner won her first title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, salvaging what was an otherwise dismal night of splats and spills with a majestic rendition of Black Swan. She finished with a score of 187.02 points and then watched as two-time champion Alissa Czisny and Agnes Zawadzki melted down.