Ilya Malinin still became the winner of the Grand Prix final! In the free program, he fell off his signature quadruple axel, but brilliantly performed two quadruple lutzes, a loop, a toe loop, and a salchow.
A luxurious performance in terms of technique was enough to defeat the Japanese Shoma Uno and Yuma Kagiyama. Malinin scored 314.66 points: Nathan Chen’s world record is still far away, but the young American of Russian origin cannot fail to impress.
Broadcasts of the ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix of the 2023/2024 season are available on Okko.
The judges punished Malinin, and he criticized them in response.
Last season’s discovery in men’s single skating was undoubtedly Ilya Malinin. The young American, who immodestly called himself the God of Quads, was finally able to conquer the most difficult jump in history, the quadruple axel, and began to include it regularly in his programs. What the great Yuzuru Hanyu could not do, Rafael Harutyunyan’s talented student could do.
It seemed that this could be the end of the long presentations and simply enjoy the next push for the development of the most beautiful sport. However, Malinin’s story turned out to be not typical, thanks not only to his achievements on the ice, but also to the scandals in which Ilya became the center. The struggle of the skater against the entire world of sports leaders has become a spectacle for the not faint of heart.
Battles over the cost of a 4.5-turn axle do not stop to this day, but last year they only gained momentum when Malinin, despite all the incredible complexity of the content, received rather low ratings. This was largely due to the fact that Ilya was far inferior to his rivals in artistry, musicality, skating skills, and ability to demonstrate multi-layered choreography. However, this did not change the fact that the scores did not reflect all the technical potential hidden in the athlete.
This became an obstacle for the skater, who abandoned his favorite jump this season. Moreover, the reason was not at all an injury, a decline or the American’s puberty (he is still in excellent physical shape and does not feel any discomfort when performing multi-rotation jumps), but a change in tactics. Malinin immediately stated that his goal was to improve the components, and he did so. As for the technology, Ilya did not worry and several times clearly hinted at the pressure on him and his team from judges, federations and other government officials.
How Malinin performed in the 2023/2024 season:
The skater himself, his coaches and his agent maintained the same rhetoric: the officials did not want to see an innovative jump and tried to prove it with the example of ratings.
“Last season I got on the quadruple axis with the intention of setting a record and leaving my mark. I thought that if I could achieve high quality, my scores would be even higher. However, after trying this jump, I realized that it didn’t contribute many points. And if I’m wrong I’ll receive a lower grade than a pure triple. Therefore, this season I refrained from doing the quadruple axel. I hoped to promote and develop my sport and inspire other athletes. But if the judges don’t approve it, then it’s not worth the risk,” Malinin said in an interview with Japanese publication Number Bunshun.
After skating the Grand Prix stage in France, where Ilya came only second, he also did not skimp on comments:
“It seems to me that when the ISU lowered the cost of this jump, they made it clear to everyone that they didn’t need unique elements and didn’t want skaters to take risks. Yes, of course, a quad axis is stressful for the body, but athletes are adults and approach it consciously, training their body. “I know a lot of skaters were upset with this decision, because the high cost of jumping is what motivates you to try something new.”
Photo: Joosep Martinson/Getty Images
For a season and a half, Malinin endured pressure from above and almost lost motivation to take risks. Experts and fans were already seriously worried about Ilya’s condition, fearing losing such a unique skater, but the American once again went against everyone and showed that he will do his best and win if possible.
Malinin did not care about the warnings and went down in history.
In the final of the ISU Grand Prix, the American representative once again surprised everyone and showed that he had not abandoned the quadruple Axel forever. First, the skater jumped quadruple three times during one of the training sessions, and then he completely inserted the most difficult element into the program, but not in the free program, as before, but in the short one. It was a real spectacle! Nobody has ever done anything like it. It is true that this time there was a clash with the judges.
The referees irritated everyone by disallowing a perfect jump of 4.5 revolutions, and this was because the technical panel was literally not prepared for such crashes. At first it seemed to them that the athlete had made a serious mistake and considered the kvaksel an invalid item, but then it turned out that Malinin and his team’s knowledge of the rules was at a higher level than that of the qualified judges in Beijing. According to the regulations, Ilya had to land a double or triple axle (he chose 3A), as well as any triple or quadruple jump: it was a 4.5-turn axle. Additionally, the skater performed a cascade of a quadruple lutz and a triple toe loop. He didn’t break the rules, so he honestly deserved the 106.90 points from him.
How Malinin performed in the short program of the Grand Prix final:
Malinin’s quadruple axis was not counted at the beginning! Ilya took a risk again and destroyed the figure’s world.
The skater could not resist and again mocked the behavior of the referees, who did not immediately react to the crazy content proposed by the American.
“To be honest, I’m surprised the judges were confused by anything. Nowhere in the rules does it say that you can’t skip a quad axis in the short program. It says triple or quadruple jump. Of course, we consulted with some judges: they told us that the jump should count. I didn’t want to talk too much about this, I wanted to give a surprise and it seems to have worked,” Malinin said after the end of the short program.
Meanwhile, while progress is actively resisted abroad, in Russia Ilya’s solitary fight against stereotypes is admired. Honored coach of the USSR Tatyana Tarasova praised the athlete:
“This is a record that will last a lifetime, many years and perhaps even centuries. No one in the world can yet repeat her record, no one has even tried,” Tarasova said, according to Match TV.