Florida skater soars to apex of American junior men’s field with stunning triple Axels
by Liz Leamy
(22 January 2021) Eric Prober, the 18 year-old West Palm Beach, Florida native who was eighth at the 2020 Eastern Sectional Championships (meaning he was unable to qualify for that year’s Nationals), took Las Vegas by storm Thursday night triumphantly clinching the 2021 U.S. Championship junior men’s title with a top-notch free skate centered around power, technical acumen and well, heart.
Prober, who has a catchy and cool on-ice presence, flew around the ice at breathtaking speed knocking out two huge triple Axels (one done in combination with a double toe loop), a triple loop, double Axel-half loop-triple Salchow, triple Salchow and triple flip- toe loop (a planned double) with tremendous attack, great positioning and lift.
Perhaps more than anything, Prober seemed to skate with the approach of one who seems to want to be on the ice all the time, messaging that was clear throughout the entirety of his riveting program to Calum Scott’s ‘You Are the Reason’ for which he earned a 127.79 and 192.83 total.
Prober, who trains with Laura Pizzelanti and represents the Panthers FSC, pulled up to the top spot in this event after having placed third in the short program Wednesday night.
Sylvia Fontana and Evgeny Platov, both who were Olympic competitors, helped design both of Prober’s programs.
For Prober, the competition was a good experience in every regard.
“When I woke up today, I was a little nervous,” said Prober. “I tried to stay focused from the short I had yesterday and I wanted to really show you guys what I was working on and I did, so I’m super excited and proud.”
Joseph Klein, the 16 year-old contender who hails from Northbrook, Illinois, put the pedal to the metal in this free skate competition, as he scored silver with a 187.30 total, jumping up from fourth in the short program.
This athlete, whose style is defined by clean lines, textbook-like technique and extraordinary flow and speed, racked up a 123.70 for his compelling free skate to Audiomachine’s ‘Big Smoke’ and ‘The Gallows,’ a program for which he also was awarded the highest component marks of the competition, a 65.70.
Klein, who represents the Skokie Valley Skating Club, executed a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop, triple flip, triple loop, triple Salchow and two double Axels, one done in combination with a triple toe loop, among other notable things.
This skater, who was 13th in the same category at the 2020 U.S. Championships, also did camel spins defined by clear 90-degree angles and a high-velocity cannonball spin along with intricate and compelling footwork sequences.
Klein trains in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he works with Damon Allen, the esteemed U.S. World and Olympic coach.
Samuel Mindra, 18, who represents the Portland Ice Skating Club in Oregon, catapulted from eighth place in the short program to third overall with a technically exceptional free skate to ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ by John Grant for which he was awarded a 121.12, putting his total at a 181.49.
This powerful and laser-focused athlete, who is coached by Mari Malama and was 10th at the 2020 U.S. Championships in this same division, attacked his jumps with the stealth and command of a seasoned premiere American contender, helping him to rack up high technical scores.
He reeled off a triple Lutz-double toe, triple loop, triple Salchow, double Axel-triple toe and double Axel-half loop-triple Salchow, among other notable things.
Both of his programs were choreographed by Malama and Daisuke Murakami, the former U.S. men’s contender.