by Martha L. Kimball
"I like jumping a lot," said the cyber-schooled 15 year old, "but I like spinning best."
Asked about his choice of programs, Rippon said, "I like doing classical music. My coach helped me pick it out."
Rippon’s past musical experience includes piano playing, "but I wasn’t too good at it."
The young man from Clarks Summit, PA, who trains at the University of Delaware, most likely owed his first-place standing to the triple Lutz – double toe, a combination that had only recently become consistent in his repertoire and that he had never before attempted in competition.
"I got it [the combination jump] at about the time of Sectionals, but we didn’t put it into the program then because it was still pretty new. Here I felt prepared, and we decided to put it in. Actually we were going to see how everyone else did, but since I was in the first group, we decided to do the Lutz."
That accrued to the slight disadvantage of William Brewster, a crowd favorite and red-haired musical dynamo, who performed the same combination but with slight hesitation.
Brewster, from Novi, MI, ripped off a spirited accompaniment to the cornet flourishes of Doc Severinsen’s "Funiculi, Funicula" wearing rust, purple and black. However, he executed superfluous turns out of his double Axel. "I think I was being a little bit cautious," he explained.
The 14-year-old, whose musicality and élan come naturally, plays in a youth orchestra and studies ballet and modern dance.
Brewster and his Detroit coaches of four years’ standing, Mitch Moyer and Linda Johns, are creating spin variations and other subtle enhancements with a view to next season’s radically overhauled judging system.
Austin Kanallakan, Pacific Coast Sectional champion, finished third and barely nudged out fellow All Year FSC member Richard Dornbush.
Kanallakan, 13, from Riverside, CA, skated a program with cowboy attitude and gunfighter imagery. Known for his fast and technically solid spins that were in evidence but not in full flight, he executed a triple toe – double toe, less difficult than Rippon’s and Brewster’s Lutz combinations.
"It was pretty okay. It was good," said the first-time senior Nationals competitor in assessing his effort. He planned a triple Lutz – double toe for the Long Program.
"I was going to [do the Lutz] today, Kanallakan said, "but my coach decided to play it safe."
Dornbush, 13, Kannallakan’s Tammy Gambill stable mate, also presented triple toe – double toe in the context of an entertaining "Spy Kids" program. He pronounced himself pleased with his fourth-place position "near the podium."
The eleventh-placed skater, Q. Kelvin Vu, 15, of Southborough, MA, deserves honorable mention for his strikingly smooth and lyrical style, musicality, spins, and impressive double Axel – high and long. Pops in both his jump combination and loop jump left him near the bottom of the heap, but strains of his "Secret Garden" lingered in the mind.
The Lake Arrowhead native, who trains with Tammy Gambill in Riverside, skated a conservative but technically excellent program containing five triple jumps, two in combination. He opened with triple toe – double toe, then sailed into a triple Lutz combination, slowing a bit in the entry to the double toe loop.
As Spartacus, decked out in a handsome costume that evoked chain mail and gilt-crested armor, Kanallakan assailed his remaining foes: double Axel, double flip (meant to be tripled), triple loop, triple toe, and a triple Salchow – double toe combination.
The addition of footwork, a flying camel, and two inventive spin creations yielded a winning performance that ended in a blurry flourish with a camel – Sandhu – catch-foot layback – cross back sit - back scratch spin combination.
"I like to get interesting with the different [spin] positions," replied Kanallakan when asked about one of his fortes. "And I like spinning a lot, so that helps, too."
Kanallakan’s hope is to return to Nationals next year in the Junior division, clearly deeper water. But Kanallakan can swim.
"I haven’t seen the Juniors yet, but from what I hear, they’re very good; so it’s going to take a lot of work, but I’m definitely up for it."
Adam Rippon, the frontrunner after the Short Program, offered the second best free skate program for silver in the event.
In a wine-and-black costume with gold trim, he essayed the John Curry standard, Minkus’s Don Quixote, with composure, balletic style, and lush choreographic detail.
Rippon, coached and choreographed by Yelena Sergeeva at the University of Delaware FSC, opened with an appealing footwork sequence leading into a triple Salchow, then a triple Lutz – double toe loop combination. There was excellent connecting detail throughout the program that also highlighted triple loop, flip, and toe loop and a double Lutz.
The well-spoken young man who plans to move up to Juniors with his fellow medalists also excelled with a spreadeagle, spirals, and great positions in combination spins.
William Brewster, who trains with Mitch Moyer and Linda Johns at the Detroit SC, dropped from second in the short program to third place overall with a fourth-ranked free skate. He performed a measured and clean-lined "Gettysburg" program in a medium-blue military jacket with gold braid on the sleeves. He opened with triple Lutz – double toe loop, then executed a triple flip and fell on the landing.
Brewster regrouped with a clean triple Salchow, death drop to back sit spin, a back camel – forward camel – upright spin combination, double Axel, and triple toe loop before falling for the second time – on the difficult triple Lutz. A stylish skater, he ended well with a double loop, straight-line footwork, and a forward camel – sit –"grab variation" - back sit spin combination.
"I thought it could have been better," Brewster remarked candidly, "but overall it has been a pretty good competition for me."
Coach Moyer remarked that the "Gettysburg" program was adopted to give his skater, who was sixth in last year’s Novice event, some gravitas as he prepares to turn Junior.
"He’s pretty musical. I wanted to develop his skating into something a little bit stronger, a little bit more masculine, something that has a bit of a punch to it."
Eliot Halverson must have thought that he hit the jackpot when he saw his name go up in fourth place. After an eighth-placed short program, he was doomed to compete sixth out of twelve skaters. The battlefield before him was strewn with victims, and some of those who followed, in the second warm-up group, fared little better.
Halverson kept his head and skated clean to "Cappriccio Espagnol," better known as Torvill & Dean’s paso doble.
The 14-year-old, born in Bogota, Columbia, lives and trains in St. Paul, MN. Coached by Ted Engelking and Ann Edison, Halverson skated stylishly to Chicka Maruta’s choreography and took third in the Free Skate, fourth overall.
J1: Kitty DeLio
J2: Karen Terry
J3: Hal Marron
J4: Patricia St. Peter
J5: Anne Cammett
J6: Jessica Gaynor
J7: Bette Todd
J8: Deveny Deck
J9: Joyce Burden
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