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2013 U.S. National Championships

Jeremy Abbott Brings Knife to a Gun Fight, Dethroned by Max Aaron

 by George Rossano



(27 January 2013)  Earlier in the morning of the Men's final, Olympic Champion Evan Lysacek met informally with the media, and in the course of discussing the state of competitive skating today stressed the importance of skaters attacking with a take-no-prisoners resolve.  Several hours later, Max Aaron did just that.

Max Aaron Takes Men's Title with Compelling Athletic Performance

Aaron was first to skate in the last warm-up group, and opened with a strong beautiful quad Salchow - double toe loop combination, followed by an equally beautiful solo quad Salchow.  Having gotten the two quads done, he "filled" time with two spins and the leveled step sequence, which allowed him to put six of his eight allowed jump elements in the second half of the program, the most of any competitor in the event.  These elements included two triple Axels.  The first in combination had a step out of the landing, but the second was high and strong, with six judges going to +3 for the GoE.

Aaron's spins were achieved level four for two of the spins and level three for the third and the step sequence.  It was an athletically and technically commanding performance which was bested the next highest element score by over ten points.  Commenting on his goals coming into the competition and his accomplishment in upsetting the favorite, Jeremy Abbott he said, "The goals I had coming into this event were to complete two clean programs. I knew if I competed the best two programs I can, I knew I could be up there. With the other men, I knew a lot of them were trying quads. Coming into it, I expected all the men would land their quads and do their jumps. I wanted to be competitive. I never thought of me being national champion to be honest. Itís an honor and Iím taking it in stride. It hasnít hit me yet. I hope I make everyone proud and I show our U.S. men are something.

Skating to music from "West Side Story" his component scores were third best, with choreography that was generally undistinguished for that overused piece of music.  His program, nevertheless, was an athletic tour de force that brought forth a huge standing ovation from the audience of roughly 3300 (unofficial) on hand to witness it.

The newly minted National Champion, will be making his first appearance at Worlds, next March.  On being ready for that experience he said, "I have been out there many times, so I kind of know what to expect. I do train with a two-time World champion [Patrick Chan, Canada], his experiences and what heís been through. Iíve always been ready for the past two years, more than two years, and we always talk about it. I feel like I am ready and Iíve always been ready for this moment."

 He further explained, "I think that talking with Patrick the last two years, that Iíve been with him the past three years, heís taught me how to compete, what itís like to be on the world stage. Heís told me the experiences heís went through, not only in training but in competition. Heís told me what itís like to be at an event with great men, putting out quads and clean programs, every single program, every single second. Just hearing him talk about that is something I kind of expect and I know what to expect from the top men out there today."

Second place was taken by Ross Miner, skating to music from the movie "Captain Blood."

Miner opened with strong quad Salchow, followed by a strong triple Axel - double toe loop combination.  On his next element, however, he singled a triple Axel attempt, and that proved the difference between the gold and silver medal.  While Aaron earned 12.06 points for his solo triple Axel, Miner scored 1.19 for his pop to a single.  Had he completed the triple he would have won both the segment and the overall event.

Miner went on to complete six more triples cleanly, including triple Lutz - triple toe loop, but also had an edge call on triple flip.  His four well executed spins were level four, and his step sequence level 3.  His marks were third best on the element score and second best for components.  Regarding the quad he said, "Itís not just U.S. Figure Skating, itís the world stage. To be really, truly competitive, you have to have the quad in short and long. This year is the first year where itís become apparent that the quad is incredibly important. Itís going continue into next year. I think itís great that we had a lot of guys trying them here and we have a really deep field."

On his performance this year he said, "Last year, coming off my sort of breakout performance as a senior man in Greensboro, I was proving to myself that I could come back here and really perform at this level and that I wasnít a fluke. I took that, itís behind me, I can move forward and really keep building on that. Iím really excited with the result. Iím looking forward to Boston next year, itís going to be a bunch of fun."

Defending Champion, Jeremy Abbott fell on his opening quad toe loop attempt, which was called under-rotated.  While a setback, though, that is not what ultimately cost him the title.  Following the fall he landed six triples in the next five jump elements, including two triple Axels and a triple Lutz - triple toe loop combination.  What did him in was the last two jump elements where he doubles a planned triple loop and double a planned triple Salchow.  With these two elements he would have still won the event, on the strength of his component scores, but without them he lost the title and a spot on the world team.

For spins and steps Abbott achieved level three for all four elements, which were well execute.  On the component side, his scores where marked the highest for his performance to "Bring Him Home" from Les Miz.  It was a pretty skate, but not the take-no-prisoners skate that Lysacek spoke of earlier in the day.

Speaking of his performance, he said, "I talked to Yuka and Jason and the goal for here was to rotate the quad and then go for everything else and Iíve been training really good programs at home and I was like, ĎOkay, if you rotate the quad, and then maybe have another small error, so I did the double loop and was like, alright, this is what we talked about, itís okay, I have to do this triple Sal at the end, and I was thinking what I need to do like okay, my right arm needs to come to the left, take my time.í I rushed it and it was a double Sal and after that I was you know if I had just done that one jump I wouldíve gotten off the ice with a completely different attitude and you know, I let it go. Itís exactly what I didnít want to happen and Iím probably going to be left off the team one more time, so it sucks. But you know, Ross did it great and Max skated amazing and you know there wasnít room for error and I needed to be good Ė better than good Ė and today I was a little less than good. So it sucks, but, itís okay Ė I mean itís not okay, but itís okay."

Abbott was in line to go to Four Continents ahead of Adam Rippon, but apparently he declined that opportunity.  He did, however, react to the outcome in the event more graciously than he did when he was dethroned by Ryan Bradley two years ago.

Even with "just" a fourth place finish, newcomer to teh senior division, Joshua Farris could not have been more thrilled.  "Iím feeling awesome," he said.  "I canít believe I medaled. I went out there and was like, Ďyou know what I have nothing to lose, Iíve already accomplished way more than I have in the past nationals.í I went out there and did what I knew how to do, did most of it, only one little fumble on the quad, but I have room to grow."

Farris opened with a strong triple Axel - triple toe loop combination, followed by a fall on quad toe loop.  The remainder of the program, skated to the Rach-2 piano concerto, was clean with six additional triples, but with edge calls on both flips.  He achieved level four on two spins and level three on the third, while his step sequence was called level two. His element score was second best while the component scare was fourth best.

Farris was assigned to the Junior World Team, along with Jason Brown who also competed in the U.S. senior event and placed eighth overall.

Fifth overall was Adam Rippon who was sixth in each segment, and bested Richard Dornbush, who placed fifth and seventh, by 1.06 points.  Rippon started off fairly strong with an entertaining program to music from "The Incredibles,"  but got into trouble in the second half where he put a foot down on triple on a second triple Axel, had a downgrade call on triple Salchow, and doubled a loop.

Dornbush, on the other hand, had a troubled first half to his performance, but settled down and finished strong after missing his first two quad attempts and singleing a planned triple Axel.  Both quad attempts were fully rotated, but the first had a near fall and the second a fall.  He also doubled a Lutz in a planned triple-triple combination.

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