If you missed the second day of the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships yesterday, you missed a whole lot of incredible skating. It was ice dance and men yesterday with their short programs.
Related: Opining on Day One
Figure skating fans will remember that, four years ago, Jeremy Abbott owned the U.S. Championships when he won his second national title with two programs that would likely have put him on the podium at the Olympics. (I'd contend that they would even have won the whole thing.) And after the next three years of up and down performances at Nationals - at only one of those three did he qualify for Worlds - he came back this year to skate the best short program of his life so far.
Videos/Play-by-play: Men's short program
Abbott had looked solid in practices this week, showing off the quad that has come and gone during his career. And when he hit a beautiful quad toe-triple toe during warmups before his short program, the crowd could sense a magical performance coming.
And he did not disappoint. He reeled of that quad-triple again during his short and added a triple lutz and triple axel to cap off a flawless program that is as good as any that the world has seen this season - or ever at U.S. Nationals. The judges agreed, awarding Abbott with a score of nearly 100 points, higher than the world record that was set by Yuzuru Hanyu a few weeks ago at Grand Prix Final. Of course, there's no comparing a national score with an international score, but it gives you an idea of how sky-high the quality of Abbott's short program was.
Abbott is almost eight points ahead of the rest of the field, led by the surprise of the men's competition so far, Richard Dornbush.
A Dornbush resurgence
Speaking of Dornbush, it was Dornbush who skated very early in the competition and broke the U.S. Nationals short program record with the best short program of his life. For a while, it looked as if the score would stand for the rest of the competition, and if it weren't for Abbott's incredible skate, it would have been.
It's a great resurgence for the 2011 silver medalist, who had two years of subpar performances thereafter. He's currently leading Jason Brown and defending champ Max Aaron by about five points, and a clean program away from playing the spoiler.
World champs Meryl Davis/Charlie White were once again incredible, scoring 80+ in their short dance and halfway to their sixth U.S. title. And while their title is locked up, the intriguing fight will be for two of the last three American spots in Sochi.
Videos: Short dance
Reigning silver medalists Madison Chock/Evan Bates has a five-point advantage in second place over former World bronze medalists Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani. The Shibutanis, however, are only a point and change ahead of Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue, who were tenth at Worlds two years ago. All three teams deserve to be in Sochi - it's too bad we only have two more spots.