Mariah Bell poses at a Team USA Beijing 2022 Olympic shoot on Sept. 12, 2021 in Irvine, Calif.
Jason Brown did not compete at the Rostelecom Cup, the sixth and final Grand Prix event of the 2021-22 figure skating season held in Sochi, Russia, on Friday and Saturday. Still, the event’s results guaranteed him the sixth and final men’s spot at the Grand Prix final in Osaka, Japan, on Dec. 9-12.
It is the second time Brown has qualified for the prestigious event, which features the top six performers in each discipline over the six Grand Prix events held in the fall. The veteran skater made the cut with a silver medal at Skate Canada in late October and a bronze last week at Internationaux de France.
Nathan Chen, winner of the last three Grand Prix finals, will join Brown in Osaka. Chen qualified with a bronze at Skate America and a win the following week at Skate Canada. Vincent Zhou, who defeated Chen to win Skate America, was the top U.S. men’s qualifier with a gold at Skate America and silver at NHK Trophy.
The three Team USA men will be joined in Osaka by Skate America champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who also won a silver medal at Gran Premio d’Italia, and Madison Chock and Evan Bates, silver medalists at Skate America and the NHK Trophy. Hubbell and Donohue won the event in 2018, while Chock and Bates are three-time Grand Prix final silver medalists.
While no American medaled at Rostelecom Cup this weekend, there were several notable performances.
Mariah Bell skated two solid programs to place fourth in the women’s field with a season-best 210.35 points. It is a substantial improvement over her 190.79 points and sixth-place finish at Internationaux de France last week, although she did not try a triple-triple jump combination, an element top women routinely execute in their programs.
Bell acknowledged that omission, saying, “I left points out there, but I was able to get points on the levels and spins I missed in France.” As a final warmup to the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in early January, where she hopes to win one of three U.S. women’s spots for the Beijing Games, Bell plans to compete at the Golden Spin of Zagreb, held Dec. 7-11 in Croatia.
Russian women swept the podium in Sochi, with 15-year-old Kamila Valieva landing three quadruple jumps and a triple axel in her free skate to score 272.71 total points, a record. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won silver with 229.23 points and Maiia Khromykh gained bronze with 219.69 points.