Zahradnicek leads junior men after short program at US Nats
Alexander Zahradnicek (SC of Wilmington) is currently first after the short program, followed by Max Aaron (Broadmoor SC) and Alexander Aiken (Atlanta FSC).
Performing to Libertango, Zahradnicek opened with a solid triple flip-triple toeloop combination which earned +1.20 positive Grades of Execution (GOE). He followed up with a clean triple loop and double Axel, and earned a level 4 on two of his spins. He scored 63.81 points.
“It’s a great feeling,” said the 19-year-old of his placement. “I’m happy that all my hard work is paying off this year and I just can go into the long now more relaxed and just have a good time.”
Zahradnicek felt the best part was being able to control his nerves.
“Just keeping them (nerves) intact and going out there and not worrying about anything. Letting everything flow like it does in practice.”
Aaron had a rough start after putting both hands down on a triple Axel, however, he bounced back with a triple Lutz -triple toeloop which earned + 1.10 GOEs. He also landed a triple loop and earned a level 4 on two of his spins, earning 62.95 points.
“I thought that it (the program) was quite strong besides the first jump,” said the reigning U.S. junior bronze medalist. “Other than that I felt comfortable with it.”
“I’m excited for the free skate,” Aaron added. “I feel pretty confident. I’m not in the place I want to be or the score I wanted, but it’s good motivation to keep pushing.”
Aiken sits in third with 61.78 points. His routine featured a triple Lutz-triple toeloop, a triple loop, and a double Axel. He also earned a level 4 on two of his spins, as well as positive GOEs for all his elements.
“I’m very happy with it,” said the 20-year-old of his performance. “It’s what I came to do and what I have been training, so I can’t complain.”
Steven Evans (Dallas FSC) also had a good skate, landing a triple Lutz-triple toeloop, a triple loop, and a double Axel, however, his combination jump received -.20 GOEs. He sits in fourth with 61.66 points.