Rippon leads men in Sofia

USA's Adam Rippon, 18, won the Men's Short Program with his performance to Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.

USA’s Adam Rippon lead the men after the short program, while teammate Brandon Mroz is currently third. Artem Borodulin of Russia placed second with just over a three-point difference between between first and third place.

With great attention to the details in his program, Rippon found and explored every nuance of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. From the soft gentle opening bars to the dynamic strains that accompanied his level 3 circular and straightline footwork, the 2007-08 Junior Grand Prix (JGP) champion produced superb spins as well as a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, a double Axel, and a triple loop.

The U.S. Junior champion received positive Grades of Execution (GOE) on all elements, and earned a new personal best of 69.35 (37.85/31.50) points.

“The competition here was very strong and just to be part of such a great and big competition is an honor in itself,” said the 18-year-old. I’m happy with how I skated today. I felt I did the program as best as I could, and I hope that I can keep skating as well as I did today tomorrow.”

Rippon acknowledged that other skaters, including his teammate Mroz, are doing triple Axels in the Short Program.

“My goal coming into this competition was just to skate two clean programs as best as I could,” said Rippon. “Today in the short program I feel that I did that, and I hope that tomorrow in the long program I can skate just as well as I did today – even without the triple Axel.”

Borodulin displayed remarkable fortitude and hard work in regaining his jumps after breaking his foot in November 2007. The Russian Junior silver medalist performed an energetic and enthusiastic performance to the lively music of Yablochko (Sailor Dance) from the Red Poppy soundtrack.

The 2007 JGP Sofia Cup champion completed a very good triple loop and double Axel, and the only glitch in his program was an error on the landing of his second jump in a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination. Borodulin, who also produced good level 3 footwork and two good level 4 spins, earned a new personal best of 66.16 (36.20/29.96) points.

The Russian was pleased with his performance under the circumstance. “I was able to recover in time for this competition, so I’m very pleased with how I did,” said Borodulin. “I started to train and got back on the ice in early January, and one month before these championships, I started to jump and I’ve already got my triple Axel back.

However, Borodulin doesn’t feel it’s necessary to have a triple Axel in the Short Program in Juniors.

“It’s not like the most important element you need because each element has a value and it’s important to do each element cleanly,” explained the 18-year-old. “But I plan on jumping a triple Axel tomorrow in the long program.”

Skating with speed and power reflective of the dramatic music of the Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgski, Mroz demonstrated his mastery of the elements of the short program. The 2007-08 JGP Final silver medalist completed the only clean triple Axel (in combination with a triple toeloop) of the competition, as well a triple loop and double Axel. He also earned a level 4 on two of his spins.

The two-time and current U.S. Junior silver medalist also received a level 4 on two of his spins, and earned a new personal best of 63.36 (35.43/27.93) points.

“It was a great event and a lot of skaters skated very well today,” said the 17-year-old. “There were a lot of clean programs. The whole event was really solid. It looks like it’s going to be a great long for us all. I am so proud of how I skated today.”

Regarding his triple Axel, Mroz added the element to the Short when it appeared that it was consistent in his long program throughout most of the season. “It’s great that I did it today, but it’s really a stepping stone for the future.”

Jinlin Guan is currently in fourth with 62.47 (33.18/29.29) points. His routine to Tango de Los Exilados was highlighted by brilliant straightline and circular footwork, however, the 2007-08 JGP finalist turned out the landing of a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination and stepped out of the landing of a triple loop. Despite the mistakes, he skated the rest of the program with great energy, completing a double Axel as well as three level 4 spins.

Showing similar qualities to his idol, Jeff Buttle, Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic skated a musical program to Sing, Sing, Sing which was highlighted by his ‘loose-limbed’ choreography that complimented the style of that era. The 2007 Nebelhorn Trophy champion opened with very high jumps which included a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, a triple loop, and a double Axel, and both his circular and straightline footwork were in character with the music. He earned 62.11 (33.62/28.49) for a fifth place finish.

USA’s Tommy Steenberg placed sixth with a personal best of 61.33 (32.41/28.92) for his balletic, yet powerful routine to Le Corsaire by Ricardo Drigo. The American displayed all of the transitions and movement in the footwork that one would see on a stage, whilst producing a triple Lutz-triple toeloop, a triple loop, and a double Axel.

“I was very happy with my combination,” said the 19-year-old. “The triple triple went really well, and I felt that I kept the program together really well. I was really happy about the fact that I gave a really good performance for everyone today and I’m excited about the long program tomorrow.”

Kim Lucine of France skated an energetic and fun program to music from the The Mask soundtrack. The 19-year-old had a problem with the landing of a triple loop, but otherwise produced a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, a double Axel, and two level 4 spins. He scored a new personal best of 60.01 (32.04/27.97) points for a seventh place finish.

Denis Ten of Kazakhstan showed the audience his ability to skate with both softness and sharpness in his program to Flamenco and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. The only error in the program was a turnout on the landing of a triple loop. All other elements, including a triple Lutz-triple toeloop and double Axel, were awarded + GOEs. The 14-year-old earned a new personal best of 60.00 (32.67/27.33) points and is currently eighth.

“I didn’t expect to skate so well today,” confessed Ten. “It was hard for me. Last year at Junior Worlds, I had high hopes and then I fell in the short program and didn’t even qualify [for the free skate].”

Ten divulged that his mother was considering if it was time to quit competing, but they decided to see how this season would develop.

“I skated quite well in the Junior Grand Prix,” said Ten. “Last year at Junior Worlds I realized how high the level is. I knew that I had to work very, very hard. Before I just thought it’s enough if you land your jumps, but in fact it’s very different. A lot depends on your rating and you have to try to improve it each time. I got a new personal best score, but I skated much better in Vienna (at the European Criterium). Maybe I was a little tired today as this competition took place just one and a half weeks ago.”

Florent Amodio of France showed excellent speed and flow, as well as a lightness and gentleness to his movement in his Somewhere in Time routine. The 17-year-old put his hands down on the landing of his first jump in a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination and stepped out of the landing of a triple loop, but landed a solid double Axel. He is currently ninth with 58.50 (32.31/26.19) points.

“This was the best short program of the season,” said the 17-year-old. “Definitely it was the best content. I did the triple Axel for the first time in the short in international competition. I felt good on the ice, a bit hesitant at first, but then it went really well. I will continue to give my best, that’s very important.”

Ivan Bariev of Russia, who underwent meniscus surgery in his right knee end of October 2007, is in 10th place with 58.39 (31.24/27.15) points. He is also currently recovering from a stress fracture on his left hand which is in a cast.

Jeremy Ten of Canada is currently 11th (58.29 points), followed by Ukraine’s Nikolai Bondar (56.68 points).

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