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South Jersey’s Isabeau Levito wins gold at the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championship

Philadelphia Inquirer 2/8/2023 Ellen Dunkel, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Fifteen-year-old Isabeau Levito, who lives in Mount Holly and trains in Mount Laurel, is the new U.S. women’s figure skating champion.

The World Junior champion, who also won silver in December’s Grand Prix Final, won gold Friday night in San Jose, Calif., after besting former champion Bradie Tennell in the free skate, or long program.

She also won the short program on Thursday night, by just two one-hundredths of a point over Tennell.

This time, Levito earned 10 points more than Tennell, with 149.55 in the long program and 223.33 overall.

Skating confidently in a blue dress with angel wings on the front and back to Dulcea Si Tandra Mea Fiara, by Catalina Caraus and Eugen Doga, Levito earned positive grades of execution on all elements as well as Level 4 (the highest) on all of her spins and her step sequence.

Her program opened with a strong triple lutz-triple loop combination, the hardest combination that doesn’t include a triple axel or quadruple jump.

She also performed a triple toe loop, triple flip, and two double axels.

The 2022 U.S. bronze medalist, Levito beat her personal best in the short program by 1.28 points, her best free skate by 5.87 points, and her total score by 7.59 points.

But she also had help en route to her gold medal.

South Jersey figure skater Isabeau Levito is on top of the world — with room to grow

Tennell, who was coming back from a year of injuries, under-rotated the second jump in her double axel-triple toe loop combination and downgraded an intended triple lutz-double toe loop to a three-jump double lutz-double toe loop-double toe loop combination. Both combinations received negative grades of execution.

Yet Tennell, skating to Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, still earned her silver medal with nearly a point higher than bronze medalist Amber Glenn.

Glenn moved up from fourth place with a powerful, artistic long program to Without You, by Ursine Vulpine and Annaca. She landed a triple axel, and although she stepped out of the landing, it was counted as clean. But she also lost points by popping an intended triple salchow into a double and a planned triple lutz-double axel sequence became a triple lutz-single axel.

Starr Andrews, who placed third in the short program, fell back to fourth place. But in the United States, unlike in international competition, fourth also earns a medal, the pewter.

South Jersey’s Isabeau Levito claims silver at the Grand Prix Final in Italy

Former U.S. champion Gracie Gold, who lives in Wilmington and trains in Aston, dropped from fifth place in the short program to eighth overall.

Next for Levito will be the Skating Spectacular on Sunday, a show presenting all of the new champions and medalists. It will be broadcast next Sunday from 4-6 p.m. on NBC.

In the next few days, United States Figure Skating will select the team that will represent the U.S. at the World Championships (March 20-26 in Saitma, Japan) and another important international competition, Four Continents Figure Skating Championships (Feb. 7-12 in Colorado Springs, Colo.).

As the U.S. champion, Levito almost certainly will be named to the World team. She may also be selected for Four Continents, if U.S. Figure Skating wants her to have additional international experience before Worlds. But sometimes the skaters a few ranks lower at Nationals are the ones selected for Four Continents.

At 15, she meets the minimum age requirement for senior international competitions, so she can go to the World Championships. The International Skating Union will raise that age requirement to 17 in the next two years, but she always will be the right age.

TV schedule

Levito will perform in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships’ Skating Spectacular, which will be on Sunday in San Jose, Calif. But it won’t be broadcast on TV until next week. It will be shown 4-6 p.m. Feb. 5 on NBC.

©2023 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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