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2014 U.S. National Championships

Abbott Back with a Vengeance, Dominates Men's Short Program with Amazing Technical Acumen

by Liz Leamy

(10 January 2014)  It was a night in which those skaters who hit the hardest tricks dominated the event and in the end, it was Jeremy Abbott, the three-time U.S. champion and 2013 national bronze medalist, who put out the best program and skated away with the highest score of the men’s short program, a 99.86.

Competing at his last-ever nationals, this steadfast contender, 28, who trains in Detroit with Yuka Sato, made it clear that he is not exiting without a fight. He opened up with an enormous quad-triple toe, triple Axel and triple Lutz as well as textbook-like spins and would easily stand among the world’s best.

“I’m happy with how I skated,” said Abbott, who skated to ‘Lilies of the Valley’ a piano piece by Jun Miyake arranged by Nathan Lanier. “My goal was to keep it business and get the job done.”

No doubt, he accomplished that mission and then some. Throughout this program, each step and element was exceptional, including all of his spins, footwork and transitions.

Visibly elated at its conclusion, Abbott jumped up in the air after he struck his last pose and and fist-pumped the crowd, who rightfully gave him a standing ovation.

“I enjoyed the energy and the crowd,” said Abbott who said right before he skated, he reiterated his what his goals with his coach, a former World champion.

Richard Dornbush, who was sixth at last year’s U.S. Championships, put out the second-best program of the evening and wound up trailing Abbott with a 92.04, a new personal best.

The California native, 22, who trains with Tammy Gambill in Riverside, described this technically exceptional performance, which included a huge quad, triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe, as a huge personal hurdle for him.

“Tonight I finally set that enemy aside and overcame it,” said Dornbush. “It [the enemy] was me.”

His program to “Sons of Italy” by Henry Mancini was designed by Mark Pillay and featured interesting movements and inflections that emanated its cultural mood.

“I’ve been training for this all year,” he said. “I put it out, I was so excited.”

Dornbush, the 2011 U.S. silver medalist, performed in the same vein as so many other senior skaters who have been staking the top spots in the first segment of this competition so far. Like them, he has faced some difficult challenges over the past few years, including injuries, disappointing competition outcomes and jump consistency issues.

“There was a lot of discouragement and even quitting issues,” he said. “I have such a great team back in Riverside and there have been so many people who have helped me.”

Certainly, these challenges seem to have only made him stronger.

Dornbush was also grateful for support he had received from former U.S. Olympic champions, including Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano the night prior, who provided him with critical words of encouragement.

Jason Brown, 19, scored third with a memorable program to ‘The Question of U’ by Prince for which he was awarded an 87.47. A crowd favorite, Brown executed a triple Axel, triple flip-triple toe and one-handed triple Lutz with veritable ease and strength.

This driven skater, who was eighth at last year’s U.S. Championships, trains with Kori Ade in Highland Park, Illinois, and commanded the full attention of the crowd and received a standing ovation.

“It was really exciting to have such a supportive crowd,” said a visibly elated Brown. “The atmosphere was amazing.”

Brown, who said he has worked extensively with a sports psychologist in order to prepare for competition, said Ade gave him some important words of encouragement before he went out to skate.

“My coach was like ‘this is an Olympic year, you fight for everything you do,’” he said. “I thought of that when I went out there.”