American prodigy Ilia Malinin lands 6 quads in record-breaking free skate to 'Succession' theme


MONTREAL, CANADA - MARCH 23 : Ilia Malinin of United States competes in Men Free Skating during World Figure Skating Championships 2024 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on March 23, 2024. (Photo by Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Ilia Malinin of United States competes in Men Free Skating during World Figure Skating Championships 2024 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on March 23, 2024. (Photo by Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Ilia Malinin, a 19-year-old American figure skating prodigy, fought through mental and physical fatigue to put on the show of his life over the weekend. He took home his very first world title after laying down a free skate that broke every competition scoring record on the books.

Nicknamed the “quad god” for his ability to perform challenging and complicated quadruple jumps, Malinin crammed six cleanly landed quads into his free skate at the World Figure Skating Championship, which he performed to the theme from the TV show “Succession.”

It was a perfect marriage between music and movement. The theme is a minor key masterpiece with sequences of sliding notes that are perfect for long strings of jumps and other skills, and Malinin’s athleticism fit perfectly with the music.

Malinin began his skate with a quadruple axel, which is a skill that he alone owns right now. He is the only man to ever land a quadruple axel in competition (he first did it in 2022), so starting with that made a huge statement. He landed five more quads over the course of the skate, with the audience jumping to its feet after he landed his final sequence of jumps. When the music ended, the crowd erupted, and he collapsed onto the ice, full of emotion.

“I couldn’t even hold myself up, it was that emotional to me,” he said. “I’m still in shock. I still can’t believe I did this. It’s just incredible.”

The emotions only got more intense when the score came in: 227.79, the highest score in the history of the World Figure Skating Championship, beating the record of 224.92 set by fellow American Nathan Chen in 2019. Malinin catapulted from third in the standings to first and took home the gold medal.

Malinin had been struggling with a left foot injury leading up to the competition and had considered not attending. But he decided to compete at the last minute, and he’s thrilled he did.

“There was a little voice in my head saying, ‘You have to keep fighting, you have to keep going no matter how good or bad you feel,’’’ Malinin said via NBC Sports. “You just had to know what you are capable of and stick to your muscle memory.

“I am so glad to be here on top right now.”

Malinin’s gold medal was one of two won by Americans at the World Figure Skating Championship over the weekend. Madison Chock and Evan Bates also won gold for the U.S. in ice dancing. This marks the first time in 28 years that U.S. skaters have won two of the four events at Worlds, since Michelle Kwan and Todd Eldredge each won gold in 1996.



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