15-Year-Old Isabeau Levito Wins U.S. Women's Figure Skating Championships
There's a new figure skater to watch out for: Isabeau Levito.
The 15-year-old dazzled with a near-flawless freeskate, surpassing 2018 Olympic figure skating team bronze medalist Bradie Tennell, 24, to secure her first national title during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships held in San Jose, Calif., per NBC Sports.
Levito led the pack of competitors from the start, according to the outlet. She narrowly beat out Tennell by 0.2 points in the short program before she put out all the stops — including seven triple jumps — to widen her lead over the Olympic medalist by at least 10 points during her freeskate.
Levito ultimately completed the competition with a score of 223.33, with Tennell — a two-time U.S. champion — accumulating 213.12 points to win the silver medal. The 2022 Skate America bronze medalist Amber Glenn, 23, came in third, with 207.44 points.
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"I was just very proud of myself for having collected myself and done the program that I needed to do," Levito said, per the Associated Press. "Going into this event, my entire goal truly for almost even both programs was to stay composed...to really not let little minor, silly mistakes happen."
She also noted after the short program, per NBC, that she has "gotten very good at suppressing nerves" and tries to find her own way "mentally to handle it."
New Jersey native Levito was favored to win her first U.S. title on Friday as the reigning junior world champion. She also made a stunning debut during the senior nationals last year that saw her place in third, and she earned a silver medal at the Grand Prix Final last month, according to AP.
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As for Tennell, she told the press that this Women's Figure Skating Championship "probably means the most" as she has had to overcome multiple injuries involving her feet over the past year.
"I didn't think I was going to be able to do this again," Tennell said. "To be here and to have achieved it, especially after the [poor] start of my season and the bumps that I had to overcome, I'm very proud of what I accomplished."
Levito, Tennell and Glenn will now move on to compete on the international stage in the World Championships in Japan in March — though Levito may also have her sights on the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy.
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She will be eligible to compete at the age of 18, as the International Skating Union voted to gradually raise the minimum competition age for senior figure skating competitions from 15 to 17 in June 2022.