BOSTON – Jeremy Abbott effectively booked himself a return to the Winter Olympics on Sunday after clinching victory at the 2014 U.S. National figure skating championships.
Abbott, who went into Vancouver four years ago ranked as the top American but could only finish ninth as compatriot Evan Lysacek took gold, won his fourth national title by racking up an impressive 274.27 points at TD Garden.
With the Nationals effectively serving as the Olympic trials, Abbott, 28, could already turn his mind to thoughts of Sochi, even though the official announcement won't come until late Sunday evening.
He will likely be joined by second-place finisher Jason Brown, whose tidy free skate routine was enough to push him into the silver medal position ahead of pre-event favorite Max Aaron and Richard Dornbush, who was in second following the short program.
However, with U.S. skating chiefs having already shown a willingness to mix around the order – sending Ashley Wagner to the Games ahead of Mirai Nagasu in the ladies’ event – Brown could not be completely certain of his place, while a glimmer of hope remained for Aaron.
With a team event due to be introduced at the Games for the first time, it is likely that Abbott will be the men’s representative in that category, with Gracie Gold expected to take the female spot, Charlie White and Meryl Davis in the dance position, and Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir in the pairs.
Abbott was understandably delighted with his performance in Boston but will face tough competition in Sochi, with the stacked men’s competition highlighted by favorites Patrick Chan of Canada and exciting youngster Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan.