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2014 U.S. National Championships

Paolo Borromeo Crushes the Competition to Claim Novice Menís Gold Medal

by Doris Spicer Pulaski


(6 January 2014) Paolo Borromeo, of the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club, became the tenth man from the LAFSC to have won a National title at the Novice level when he completely blew away the field by a margin of thirty points to claim the 2014 U.S. National Novice Men's Figure Skating Championship. Borromeo, age fifteen, was dressed in black and silver, but his results were nothing but golden, as he set records for both a Novice Men's Free Skate, with 114.20 points, and for the overall score by a Novice Man, at U.S. Nationals, with a total score of 168.27 points.

Borromeo moved to Los Angeles from his family's home in Florida just after the 2012 U.S. National Novice Championship to be coached by Ivan Dinev and Angela Nikidinov, a move that allowed him to improve his skating markedly. Skating to "Toccata" and "Fugue" by Vanessa Mae, the California resident completed seven triple jumps, displaying excellent technique with the exception of edge calls on his two triple Lutzes. Borromeo is expected to compete in the Junior Men's division next year.

Eric Sjoberg, the youngest competitor in the Men's Novice Championship at twelve years old, finished fourth in the Free Skate, with 89.47 points, which coupled with his second place score for the Short Program, gave him a total of 139.82 points and the silver medal. Sjoberg's home town, Middletown, MD, is not a hotbed of figure skating excellence. Skate Frederick, where he started his career and still trains when at home, once posted a sign saying he was the first skater from the rink to ever reach the national level of competition. Currently, Sjoberg trains in California with Rafael and Vera Arutyunyan.

The Novice Men's Champion at the 2013 U.S. Challenge Skate performed to the Snow White and the Huntsman soundtrack by James Newton Howard, choreographed by Nina Romanova. The slightly-built Sjoberg had under-rotation problems on his opening triple Salchow, the final jump of his triple flip-double toe-double loop combination, and on a triple Salchow that was intended to be the first jump of a combination, but which resulted in a fall instead. His double Axel-double toe loop combination was two-footed. However, his spins were of good quality.

Sjoberg's former coach, former U.S. Olympian Tiffany Scott, who worked with him from the time he was five until he moved to Los Angeles, was asked by The Frederick New Post, January 29, 2012, whether she thought that he could go far in the sport.

"Yes, absolutely," Scott replied, "I think he's incredibly talented and to go along with that, he absolutely loves to skate. And he works harder than almost any other kid I've seen."

Luke West, of the Broadmoor Skating Club, pulled up from a fifth place finish in the Short Program to win the bronze medal with a score of 93.64 points in the Free Skate and 136.86 points overall. The gold medalist from the 2014 Midwestern Novice Men's Championship skated to "Ojos Negros" by El Vivo and El Colon, choreographed by Julie Marcotte. West's tango Free Skate was not without flaws. The seventeen-year-old seemed to tire in the second half of his program, which may have contributed to the failure of his final three jumping passes, all of which included under-rotated jumps. He fell on a triple flip which was intended to be the first jump of a combination, under-rotated a triple Salchow, and again, under-rotated his final double Axel.

West started skating as a hockey player in his hometown of Plattsburgh, NY. At age nine, he began training seriously, moving from Plattsburgh area coaches, to coaches from the Olympic Center Skating School in Lake Placid. Finally, he followed his dream, stated on his website, to Colorado Springs to train with Tom Zajkrajsek, whose coaching has enabled him to meet his goal, stated on his website, of qualifying for the 2014 US Nationals Novice Men's Championship, and to perhaps earning a medal

Andrew Torgashev recovered from an embarrassing tenth place finish in the Short Program to earn the second highest score for the Free Skate, 97.78 points, and to claim the pewter medal with a total score of 132.04 points overall. The Panthers FSC member skated to the Mask of Zorro soundtrack by James Horner while wearing long black gloves and pants which had a wide red stripe down one pant leg. The twelve-year-old, who is coached by his father, Artem Torgashev, and by Scott Brown at Saveology Iceplex, started his program with a triple flip-single toe loop-single loop combination, received an edge call for his triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, and fell on a triple Lutz that started out tilted, and for which he also received an edge call, and rotated out of his triple Axel on landing. The sixth grader recouped to finish with energetic footwork in a tango style and a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination.

Fifth place overall went to Anthony Boucher of the Rocky Mountain FSC. Skating in brown military style pants, held up with suspenders, Boucher performed to music from the soundtrack to The War Horse by John Williams. He earned a score of 88.05 points for fifth place in the Free Skate, and 131.26 points overall. The student of Coach Cindy Sullivan had to put a hand down on his triple Salchow attempt, and again on his triple toe loop. One of his combinations was only a double Lutz-double toe loop. Boucher finished his program with a nice double Axel-double toe loop-double loop, a fast final spin, and a military salute to the audience.

Sixth place overall went to Harrison Wong of the All Year FSC who competed wearing faux chaps, a cowboy vest, and red bandana to Frank Zimmer's soundtrack from the computer-animated Western action movie Rango, with choreography by John Nichol and Michael Hopfes. Wong followed the lead of his coaches, Eric Millot, who also skated to Western movie themes in 1996, and Coach Frank Carroll, who skated to "Indian Love Call" in his competitive days. The silver medalist at the 2013 U.S. Challenge Skate Novice competition was only able to finish seventh in the Free Skate, scoring 76.25 points there, which combined with his fourth place score from the Short Program left him in sixth place, with a total score of 121.73 points. All of Wong's jumping passes had flawed landings, which caused him to put a hand down and turn out.

The seventh place finisher overall, Sean Conlon, of the Skating Club of New York, who was in third place following the Short Program, fell to eighth place in the Free Skate with a score of 73.79, and 119.39 points overall. Conlon put his hands over his eyes when his scores were revealed. Eighth place overall went to Eric Stinehart, Skokie Valley SC, with a total score of 115.79 points.