Nathan Chen is going back to the ISU Grand Prix final.
The reigning men’s Grand Prix champion and 2016 silver medalist earned his third consecutive trip to the final with a win at the Internationaux de France, the final Grand Prix qualifier of the season, in Grenoble, France, on Saturday.
Chen, 19, needed only to finish fifth or better in order to earn a spot in the Grand Prix final after his win at Skate America in October, but the 2018 Olympian and world champion delivered with a free skate that catapulted him past fellow American and short-program leader Jason Brown for the win. Chen finished with 271.58 points, more than 15 points better than Brown.
Chen will join competitors including 2018 Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu and silver medalist Shomo Uno, both of Japan, in the final.
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Joining Chen in Vancouver, British Columbia, beginning Dec. 6 will be U.S. ice dancers Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who will make their Grand Prix Final debut after finishing in fourth place Saturday. Hawayek and Baker won their first Grand Prix medal earlier in the season with a gold medal at the NHK Trophy in Japan, and needed to finish fourth or better to make the final. They totaled 181.47 points, just ahead of fifth-place finishers Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons of the U.S. (171.17).
The top six skaters and pairs from the six qualifying Grand Prix events make it into the final.
In the ladies’ competition Saturday, Olympian and U.S. champion Bradie Tennell performed a strong free skate to finish with the second-best score of the night and earn the bronze medal. Tennell, 20, was in sixth place following the short program. She would have qualified for the Grand Prix final with an overall win, but the free skate score of 136.44 put her just shy of the top spot.
Rika Kihara won gold with 205.92 points followed by Mai Mihara, both of Japan, with 202.81. Tennell totaled 197.78 points.
The U.S. didn’t stop with just two medals in the final Grand Prix qualifier of the season, however. Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea claimed silver in pairs with a score of 191.43, just behind gold medalists Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France with 205. 77.
Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue had already clinched the top spot in ice dancing and did not compete in France.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.