Isabeau Levito earned her first Grand Prix win and the most prestigious international title for a U.S. women’s singles figure skater in seven years.
Levito, the 16-year-old national champion, tallied 203.22 points between two programs at Grand Prix France on Friday and Saturday. She won by 4.42 over Nina Pinzarrone of Belgium.
Levito prevailed on the power of a 5.1-point lead from a clean short program. She was third in the free skate, getting no credit for a closing spin that she fell out of and having two negatively graded jumping passes. She had the highest artistic score by 2.72.
“I guess we’ll call this screwing up the second half of my spin a dramatic finish,” she said, according to the International Skating Union. “I’m just glad that I did the first half very nicely.”
GRAND PRIX FRANCE: |
Levito became the first American woman to win a full-fledged Grand Prix since Ashley Wagner took 2016 Skate America, ending the U.S.’ longest drought since the annual series began in 1995.
An American woman had not won any top-level international event in the last seven years when also including the Olympics, world championships and Four Continents Championships. (Mariah Bell won 2020 Skate America, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, 11 of 12 women in that field were American.)
Levito continued her precocious ascent, becoming the youngest U.S. woman to win a Grand Prix since Sarah Hughes in 2001, four months before she won the Olympics.
Levito also qualified for December’s six-skater Grand Prix Final, which will be the best indicator for medal prospects for March’s world championships.
Last year, Levito placed second in all three of her Grand Prix starts, including the Final, in her first senior international season.
She then won her first senior U.S. title and placed fourth at worlds, matching the best finish for a U.S. woman in her senior global championships debut over the last 32 years.
Levito opened her Grand Prix season with a runner-up finish at Skate America two weeks ago.
She ranks third among senior women by best total score this season behind two-time world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan and two-time world medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium.
Later Saturday in France, Ilia Malinin bids to win the men’s event and record the first U.S. sweep of the singles titles at a Grand Prix since 2003 Skate America (Sasha Cohen, Michael Weiss).
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