Nathan Chen highlights U.S. Olympic men's figure skating team
2-time national champ will be joined by Adam Rippon, Vincent Zhou
Two-time national champion Nathan Chen, veteran Adam Rippon and rising star Vincent Zhou were selected Sunday to represent the United States at the Olympics next month in Pyeongchang.
A U.S. Figure Skating Committee chose 2016 Uchamp Rippon, who came in fourth at the national championships on Saturday night, instead of second-place finisher Ross Miner. The committee takes into consideration a number of criteria, including overall performance for the season.
It will be the first Olympics for all three.
Rippon's inclusion at Miner's expense isn't unprecedented; the committee has made such moves in the past involving Michelle Kwan and Ashley Wagner, for example.
On Twitter, Rippon said: "When I found out what the Olympic team was, I texted Ross Miner and I told him that I was proud of what he did yesterday and how well he skated. He texted me right back and told me he was very happy to me."
At 28, Rippon was the oldest competitor in the men's field. By contrast, Chen is 18 and Zhou is 17.
Chen has won every competition he's entered this season and, with his repertoire of quadruple jumps — he did five on Saturday night in his free skate — has pushed the envelope on technical skills in skating. He will be among the favourites at the Olympics.
"This is another big step to the games," he said. "More pressures, more, you know, media, all that. There's more to come, but I'm so excited for it. This is exactly what I've wanted my entire life and I'm ready for it."
Husband, wife tandem chosen for pairs
Sticking with the standings at the national championships, U.S. Figure Skating has selected husband-and-wife team Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim for the Olympic team.
The Knierims won their first U.S. title in 2015, repeated on Saturday and are the only U.S. pair to complete a quadruple twist. Pairs competition has been a problem area for the United States for years and the country has only one spot in the Pyeongchang field next month. The Knierims were selected Sunday.
In 2015, they were the first U.S. pair to qualify for the Grand Prix Final since 2007. Although they missed the 2016-17 season because of her illness, they have earned the highest U.S. finish at each of their international assignments since their return at the 2017 Four Continents Championships.
Alternates for the Olympic team will be Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea (first alternate), Deanna Stellato and Nathan Bartholomay (second alternate), and Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc (third alternate).
Hubbell, Donohue upset Shibutani's
With an entertaining and seductive performance that could practically have melted the ice, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue pulled off an ice dancing upset.
The team beat out two-time defending champion sibling tandem Maia and Alex Shibutani with a score of 197.12, edging the Shibutanis' 196.93.
Hubbell and Donohue should be headed to their first Olympics; a federation committee later Sunday was to decide the three duos headed to South Korea.
Striking in dark evening-wear costumes, Hubbell and Donohue skated to "Across the Sky" in which their lifts were both lovely and sultry for a 118.02 score. They came into the free dance in second place after the short program Friday.
The Shibutanis floated across the ice so light on their feet they appeared to not touch it at all, but didn't receive marks from the judges high enough to make it three straight U.S. championships. Still, the brother-sister team all but locked up a trip to a second consecutive Olympics next month in Pyeongchang.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates were third at 196.60 skating to "Imagine" and also figure to make the Olympic squad.