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US Figure Skating Championships 2022: Final Results, Highlights and Reaction

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 9, 2022

Nathan Chen competes in the men's short program during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

Nathan Chen is a national champion for the sixth straight time.

Chen won the title with a score of 212.62 during Sunday's championship men's free skate in Nashville, Tennessee, to bring his total score to 328.01. Ilia Malinin clinched second place with a total score of 302.48, while Vincent Zhou finished in third after a total score of 290.16.

Here is a look at the full results:

1. Nathan Chen, 328.01 (115.39 short and 212.62 free)

2. Ilia Malinin, 302.48 (103.46 short and 199.02 free)

3. Vincent Zhou, 290.16 (112.78 short and 177.38 free)

4. Jason Brown, 289.78 (100.84 short and 188.94 free)

5. Camden Pulkinen, 260.41 (90.16 short and 170.25 free)

6. Jimmy Ma, 226.98 (91.62 short and 135.36 free)

7. Liam Kapeikis, 221.31 (73.77 short and 147.54 free)

8. Dinh Tran, 215.72 (71.18 short and 144.54 free)

9. Ryan Dunk, 191.36 (65.66 short and 125.70 free)

10. Paul Yeung, 183.74 (60.01 short and 123.73 free)

11. Artur Dmitriev, 183.01 (62.40 short and 120.61 free)

12. Mitchell Friess, 171.19 (66.07 short and 105.12 free)

13. Sebastien Payannet, 162.28 (48.52 short and 113.76 free)

The primary storyline coming into Sunday's free skate was whether Chen would take home the title for a sixth straight time.

NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

For Nathan Chen, the limit does not exist.<a href="https://twitter.com/nathanwchen?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nathanwchen</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ToyotaUSChamps22?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ToyotaUSChamps22</a> <a href="https://t.co/P6QiRhPtAB">pic.twitter.com/P6QiRhPtAB</a>

NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

NATHAN CHEN.<br>NATHAN CHEN.<br>NATHAN CHEN.<br>NATHAN CHEN.<br>NATHAN CHEN.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ToyotaUSChamps22?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ToyotaUSChamps22</a>

He staked himself to an early lead with a sparkling score of 115.39 in the short program. Zhou was nearly three points behind at 112.78, while Malinin built a cushion in the battle for third with a score of 103.46.

Jason Brown checked in at 100.84 as he competed with the 17-year-old Malinin for the third spot on the Olympic team.

Yet Chen's brilliance stole the show, and George Ramsay of CNN noted his short program score broke his own U.S. scoring record he set in 2020. The three-time world champion looked the part of Olympic favorite even though the competition will increase in Beijing when he faces Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu.

It was Brown who took the ice first among the contenders for the free skate, and an early fall left the door open for Malinin.

NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

Always giving it his all on the ice.<br><br>The entire crowd in the arena is on their feet after <a href="https://twitter.com/jasonbskates?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jasonbskates</a>'s free skate. ๐Ÿ‘<a href="https://twitter.com/USFigureSkating?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USFigureSkating</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ToyotaUSChamps22?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ToyotaUSChamps22</a> <a href="https://t.co/3zqOSIBTVf">pic.twitter.com/3zqOSIBTVf</a>

He wasn't the only one who came up short with an opportunity to jump a spot. Zhou stumbled on multiple landings while making a handful of mistakes. There was something to be said for taking some chances and pressing the technical skills when chasing an all-time great like Chen, but the 21-year-old came up short after he was largely excellent in the short program.

In fact, he barely stayed ahead of Brown despite having approximately a 12-point cushion after the short program.

With second place now realistically on the table, Malinin unleashed a dazzling combination of technical skill and artistry that moved him up the leaderboard. Not only did he fire up the crowd at this year's nationals, but he announced himself as a future star for American figure skating who figures to be a headline name for 2026.

NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

The future of <a href="https://twitter.com/USFigureSkating?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USFigureSkating</a> is looking bright.<br><br>17-year-old Ilia Malinin put on a SHOW in his free skate.<a href="https://twitter.com/USFigureSkating?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USFigureSkating</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ToyotaUSChamps22?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ToyotaUSChamps22</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZJnukIAMi5">pic.twitter.com/ZJnukIAMi5</a>

It was arguably a cleaner skate than Chen's considering the victor fell multiple times, but the winner's combination of quad jumps and overall program was too much to beat.

The result was another victory on the illustrious resume for the best men's figure skater in the United States heading into the Olympics next month.