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2013 U.S. National Championships

Jeremy Abbot Begins Defense of National Title, Leads in Short Program

by George Rossano

(25 January 2013)  Defending Champion Jeremy Abbott skated an intricate program, the first of the competition that fully captured the enthusiasm of the fans who responded with the first standing ovation of the week. The program had only the smallest of flaws, with an opening triple-triple combination with a small hesitation before the takeoff.

On his performance he said, "Iím glad everyone else thought it was magical. For me, I had to work my butt off. From that opening triple flip, I missed my tap a little bit and I had to fight for that landing. This triple Axel went up a little slow, so I kind of had to squeak that out, as well. But the rest of the program, I had a lot of fun with. You know, Iíve been saying I came to these championships really bearing the weight of being the current champion, so I really feel like I have a huge target on my back. Everyoneís kind of gunning for me."

In addition to the triple flip - triple toe loop, Abbott landed triple Axel and triple Lutz. He did not include a quad attempt. "No, the quad came out (of the program) a couple weeks ago," he said. "I had some setbacks with my back and we tried tinkering with the technique with the quad. I wanted to do solid programs." A quad, however, is still planned for the free skate.

The spins and steps in the program were level three, except for his change sit spin that achieved level four. "Today was about getting the job done and then, really enjoying the rest of the performance," he said. "Once I got that triple Axel down, I was like, ĎOK, now we get to have fun. The jobís done and now, itís about the performance,í That step sequence is a lot of fun and I just enjoyed every second of it."

Abbotts program components averaged 8.2 and his strength there was responsible for much of the lead he currently holds.

Sitting first in the short and looking ahead to the long he said, "Iím always happy to be in this position. That was a lot of work. I came into this championships knowing this was going to be a lot more work for me than in past seasons. I got a late start to the season and had some setbacks early on. Things have been much better in training. For me, my focus was to do the best I could for now and move on to the world championships in London (Ontario) and make magic happen there." For the long, "I need to skate good. There's a lot of good guys. I donít need to be perfect. But I need to be good. I need to be able to work the program. I need to be able to do my jumps and just do what I do at home. This program is always something special for me to perform."

Ross Minor currently sits 3.11 points back, with the most successful program among the men who attempted a quad.

His opening quad Salchow attempt was called under-rotated, and that error more than made up the margin by which he currently trails Abbott. He went on to land a solid triple Axel and triple Lutz - triple toe loop combination.

Minor skated after Abbott, taking the ice as the audience responded enthusiastically to Abbott. "After I saw that I was going to skate after Jeremy, I fully expected that he was going to skate a great program and there would be a lot of energy in the building," he said. "Itís usually helpful for me to skate after someone who gets the crowd going because you can build on that. It was a lot of fun to skate after him."

Minor achieved two level four spins, and one level three and also level three steps. His components trailed Abbott by about 0.5 points each.

The most pleased competitor of the group had to be Joshua Farris, who during the after-event press conference was giddy with excitement from placing in the top three. "I am so happy with what position I am in right now," he said. "I skated great, and Iím happy with my performance and I canít wait to show you what I got in the long.Ē He added, "Skating internationally, my best score was 75. So getting 79, my mind was blown. Iím a little petrified being up here right now, but Iím so happy."

Farris landed a solid opening triple Axel, and a triple Lutz - triple toe loop, with the Lutz landed on the toe which six judges marked down. He also landed a strong triple flip which three judges had at +3. His spins and steps all achieved level four. He scored 0.65 points ahead of his training-mate Max Aaron.

"Iím happy for Max," he said. "Heís one of my best friends. I was actually able to block everything out, focus on myself. I think it did help that he is my friend, so I could be supportive. But my goal going is to the competition is to focus on myself and have fun and go out there and do the best that I can. Thatís definitely what I did.

On his position this year, despite a broken leg two years ago and recent illness, he said, ďEvery nationals that I have done, it has always been in my subconscious (the broken leg). I havenít done well in the past but I told myself that Iím going to put those behind me and skate how I want to skate.Ē He added, I told quite a few of my friends and my coaches back home that this is my year. Iím going to do the best that I can and just have fun with it."

Max Aaron, who sits fourth after the Short Program, attempted the most technically difficult program of the segment. He opened with the best quad of the men, landing a solid quad toe loop - triple toe loop. He also landed triple Axel and triple Lutz. Overall his GoEs, however, were a bit lower than the leaders, and his closing combination spin was marked down by the judges.

Aaron skated first, on which he remarked, " Yeah yeah everyone going into the championships since I drew first was like ĎI donít know if you will like skating first, itís a bummer.í I really took it as an opportunity to start everything off correctly and set that standard high. I was just beaten by my teammate (Josh Farris) who just put up a bigger score, Iím happy for him. Heís a veteran now a days, heís been competing all over the world for so long."

On his success with the quad he said, " I definitely learn from Patrick (Chan) day in and day out how he goes about doing things and I kind of watch from his, even mistakes, that donít happen a lot, but all of the positives in his skating and everything he does took a toll on me today really. I work with him and Kathy Johnson and I put it all out there."

Seeking redemption from last year, Richard Dornbush, placed fifth in the short. Describing his performance he said, 'Going into this competition, especially short program, I was nervous after my downright dismal performance last year. I definitely think the nerves had me shaking at my knees a little bit but at the same time I forced myself to get down into the edges and sort of muscle through each element, and I think that showed a little bit. I wasnít happy with the execution but I managed to do my stuff and thatís what matters right now.

Dornbush landed an opening quad toe loop on the toe, which was marked down by four of the judges. His triple Axel was called under-rotated, and on triple Lutz - triple toe loop he stepped out og the second jump. He achieved two level four spins, one level three, and a level three step sequence. His components averaged 7.5.

After last season he said, "I took quite a bit of time off when I got back. I took three weeks off the ice and just turned my mind away from skating. I was really working on school and that helped me get my focus away and when I came back I found out about my boot issues and how bad they had been and as soon as that was fixed I all of a sudden could do my jumps again and it was sort of a hindsight thing looking back and really disappointed but that motivated me to know that I was capable of a lot more.

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