American teenager Malinin 'in shock' at quad-axel powered Espoo gold

american teenager malinin 'in shock' at quad-axel powered espoo gold

Mai Mihara of Japan delivers a gold-medal winning performance in the ISU figure skating Grand Prix in Espoo, Finland

American teenager Ilia Malinin said he was “still in shock” after conjuring up his fiendishly difficult quadruple axel to take gold in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Espoo on Saturday.

american teenager malinin 'in shock' at quad-axel powered espoo gold

Italy’s Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini win pairs gold in Finland

The reigning world junior champion’s reward was a ticket to the Grand Prix Final in Turin next month where he will be joined by Japan’s Mai Mihara who won women’s gold.

Malinin was lying second to Frenchman Kevin Aymoz, the surprise leader after the men’s short progamme on Friday with Japan’s Shun Sato in third.

But wooing the crowd and judges with his gravity-defying free skate programme he earned a score of 192.82 points for a 278.39 point winning total.

“I’m still in shock at how I was able to perform,” the teenage sensation said.

“I was a little mad after yesterday’s performance. I was really hoping that today I would forget about it and gain my confidence again, just to make sure that I am able to be in control of everything.”

The son of Russian-born Uzbekistani skater Tatiana Malinina, the 1999 Grand Prix Final and Four Continents champion, turned up in Finland after landing only the second quadruple axel ever performed in competition last month to become Skate America’s youngest-ever men’s champion.

american teenager malinin 'in shock' at quad-axel powered espoo gold

US teen sensation Ilia Malinin

Malinin performed the first ever quad axel in a lower level event in September.

Regarded as the most difficult jump in figure skating, double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu attempted one unsuccessfully at the Beijing Olympics this year.

Skating to the soundtrack of ‘Euphoria’ by Labrinth on Saturday Malinin had a hand down on the ice on his unique jump before hitting his first competitive quad flip.

– ‘Put it out there’ –

Whilst not the most fluent in places the technical complexity of his programme earned its deserved reward.

“I definitely put it out there,” said the new kid on the figure skating block who will attempt to become the youngest winner of the Grand Prix Final after Yevgeny Plushenko.

Taking second on Saturday was Japan’s Sato (262.21) with Aymoz (255.69) in third.

Aymoz was always up against it as his return from a number of injuries has delayed his attempt at quad jumps.

Earlier Mihara, skating to Manuel De Falla’s ‘El Amor Brujo’, shook off some hesitant jumps to produce an overall solid skate and take first place in the women’s free programme with 130.56 points.

The 23-year-old from Kobe’s total of 204.14 gave her a second success of the season after the MK John Wilson Trophy in England two weeks ago.

Like Malinen she set herself up among the favourites for the Grand Prix final in Turin next month.

World silver medallist Hendrickx led after Friday’s short programme but looked out of sorts skating to Karl Hugo’s ‘Heaven’ and ‘Fallen Angel’.

A popped Axel and a tumble on a triple Lutz, put the 23-year-old Belgian third on the day and second overall with 203.91 points, just 0.23 behind Mihara.

Hendrickx, winner of the Grand Prix in France, joins Mihara in the elite season-ending Grand Prix Final in Turin from December 8-9.

Mana Kawabe finished third overall ahead of compatriot and former Grand Prix winner Rika Kihira who is making her way back from injury.

In pairs, Italy’s Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini led all the way to take gold after their free skate to “The Barber of Seville” to finish ahead of Germany’s Alisa Efimova and Ruben Blommaert.

The Italians scored 189.74 points to the German’s 170.75, to take the first ISU Grand Prix medal, and qualify for the Final in their home country.

The sixth and final round of the Grand Prix series concluded with Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier winning ice dance gold.

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