Starr Andrews rallies for Skate Canada runner-up with career-best performance

Starr Andrews
Starr Andrews

Starr Andrews put up the top free skate of her international career, moving from fifth place to take runner-up at Skate Canada, matching the best full-fledged Grand Prix finish for an American woman in six years.

Andrews, 21, landed six triple jumps in the free skate in Mississauga, Ontario, to finish 6.33 points behind winner Rinka Watanabe of Japan. It’s Andrews’ best result in seven career senior Grand Prix starts, displacing a fifth place from 2019.

Andrews made a splash at 9 years old when a video of her skating to “Whip My Hair” went viral. She had another moment at the 2018 U.S. Championships, earning a standing ovation to her free skate to her own cover of “One Moment in Time” and finishing sixth overall.

Andrews made it back-to-back Grand Prix runner-up finishes for U.S. women after Isabeau Levito‘s senior Grand Prix debut at Skate America last week. Andrews’ total ranks her third among U.S. women on the early season behind Levito and Amber Glenn, who was third at Skate America.

The U.S. is in the midst of its longest women’s victory drought in a full-fledged Grand Prix — figure skating’s top international circuit — not counting Mariah Bell‘s win at a 2020 Skate America that was largely a domestic field due to COVID-19. Ashley Wagner claimed the last international Grand Prix title for an American woman in 2016.

Andrews will likely qualify for December’s six-skater Grand Prix Final with a podium finish in her later Grand Prix in Japan in three weeks.

The U.S. has three women’s spots for March’s world championships, to be doled out after January’s national championships. None of the three Olympians from last season are competing, with Alysa Liu and Bell both retired.

Watanabe landed a triple Axel in her free skate, improving from sixth place after the short and totaling 197.59 points. Watanabe, a 20-year-old who was sixth at last season’s Japan Nationals, won her senior Grand Prix debut.

Skate Canada finishes later Saturday with the free dance and pairs’ and men’s free skates.

The figure skating season continues with Grand Prix France next week, featuring world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium, live on Peacock.

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