ST. PAUL, Minn. — Adam Rippon interrupted Nathan Chen to marvel at the idea of doing four quadruple jumps in one practice session, let alone the free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Rippon didn't land any Sunday, but he won the national championship, and Chen, his 16-year-old training partner, was third despite becoming the first American man to complete four quadruple jumps in one program. And the runnerup, Max Aaron, had two quads on a day sure to reignite the debate about the value of artistry vs. athleticism in figure skating.
Rippon, 26, fell on his only quad attempt, but he is vastly ahead of Aaron, 23, and Chen in the expression and choreography that still make up a huge part of scores. "It takes a little bit of everything," Rippon said.
Though Aaron and Chen did little more than obligatory movements of their arms between their jumps, saving energy for the quads, Rippon sped through complex footwork in perfect timing to his Beatles medley. "I really think my experience and my maturity was what helped me prevail," he said.
Rippon earned 182.74 points for his free skate for a total of 270.75. Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champ who led after the short program, received 177.72 points for 269.55 total. Chen had 180.60 points for 266.93 total after he fell on a triple axel.
Ross Miner, second after the short program, had hoped to earn a trip home to Boston for the world championships March 28-April 3. But he dropped to fifth after a mistake-filled skate.
Chen will compete in the junior and senior world championships. Jason Brown, who was unable to defend his U.S. title because of a back strain, petitioned to be added to the world team, but U.S. Figure Skating decided Sunday to send Chen and Aaron with Rippon, the only skater guaranteed a spot.
There were no surprises among the other world team selections, with the top finishers in each event chosen: women's winner Gracie Gold, Polina Edmunds and Ashley Wagner; pairs winners Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea, who train at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex in Manatee County, and Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim; and ice dancer winners Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.