USA’s Richard Dornbush seized the title in the Junior Men’s event, while China’s Han Yan moved up to second to capture the silver. Canada’s Andrei Rogozine catapulted from seventh to third overall for the bronze.
After a well skated Junior Men short program two days ago, the men’s free skate was a major letdown and a poor way to start the final competition of the day. Experience proved to be crucial to success, and the only skater to deliver an outstanding routine was Richard Dornbush.
As the overnight leader, Dornbush was the last to skate and the American’s performance was a sole redeeming point of a rather poorly skated event. His routine to Sherlock Holmes contained strong technical content, including two triple Axels, and was delivered with a lot of flavor and style. The skater obviously enjoy his character very much. Skating clean with six more triple jumps, the student of Tammy Gambill won the event by a landslide (a new season best of 148.81 for the free and 219.56 in total), and fully deserved both the victory and the 30-point margin.
“I am trying not to say too many ‘wows!’,” said the skater at the press conference. “I am very happy. It was greater than anything I had planned for. It is great to skate so well here in Beijing. I am still a bit stunned. Being able to do a clean program in practice is totally different than doing it in a competition. That is definitely the best I skated. It gives me a lot of confidence.”
The skater who had to overcome and injury said the key to success is never to give up.
“I guess it is the best kind of stories in the sport when someone overcomes difficulties and reaches their dreams,” said the 19-year-old. “Any injury is a setback, but it is something you have to overcome. I kept working. I never gave up and kept trying no matter what.”
His next goal is Senior Nationals in January.
“It will be my second season in Seniors,” said Dornbush. “Of course I want to place high, but even more I want to skate well – like one of the best Senior men in the country. I want to show everyone that I belong to that group.”
For the Senior men’s final last the evening, he will be rooting for Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi.
“He is one of the all time best for me.”
Rogozine came back strong after disappointing seventh place finish on Thursday. He opened his routine to music from The Rock soundtrack with two confident triple Axels out of spread eagles (the first one in combination with triple toe loop) and went on to reel off all other planned elements. However, despite being much better on a technical side, his performance lacked the overall quality and audience appeal of his jazzy short program. The Canadian scored 122.61 points to finished second in the long, pulling up to third place overall with 181.78 in total.
“I am very happy,” said the Canadian. “I came into the long program with nothing too loose. I wanted to skate well and just see how far I would be able to pull up after less than a great short. Of course, I would not achieve this success without my coaches, team leaders, and supporters. Thank you, guys!”
Rogozine is also heading to Senior Nationals.
“Junior and Senior competitions are very different,” claimed the 17-year-old, “but I will try to use the things I have learned in this competition and hope to place well at Seniors.”
The pressure of being in contest for a medal proved to be too much for Yan. Without a triple Axel the skater has to rely on clean performances to beat more technically proficient competitors. This time around he struggled with the planned combination jumps, popping double toes into singles. The presentation level of the performance was also not on par with his excellent short, and his routine to Zigenunerweisen fell a bit flat – even for the partisan home crowd. He did, however, get lucky this time. His score for the long was 118.76, which was enough to earn him a silver medal with 186.05 points in total.
“I did not skate well today,” the 14-year-old admitted. “I did too many mistakes. I don’t know why. I was a little nervous going into the long program because I was third after the short. Spins were good though. Skating at home is a lot of pressure.”
Still, the Junior Grand Prix Final debutant is very pleased with the result.
“Coming here I knew that other skaters are very strong and they do triple Axels,” noted Yan. “I thought that finishing in the top six would be good.”
He plans to add an Axel to his programs at Nationals later this month.
Skating last in the first warm up group, USA’s Max Aaron went for two triple Axels with the second one done late in the program, but none of the attempts were particularly impressive. He had to fight for the landings both times, and failed to turn either of them into a combination, which led to the reduced base value for the second jump.
Like Rogozine before him, the student of Tom Zakrajsek was also focused mostly on his elements, delivering a rather disengaged performance to Winter and Summer from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. He did improve his seasons best to 117.50, though, and with 181.28 points in total, pulled up to fourth place overall.
“My free skate did not go as well as I trained it,” Aaron said. “I trained clean and faster, but I did my best today. I got a season best and am happy to take it.”
“I was a little outside the circle on jumps,” the 18-year-old explained. “I had to fight through it and I lost one of the battles. I had a great experience here. I love it and all the skaters. I had never been here before, so it has been great. I will get back into training for the U.S. Nationals and deliver the same program with the goal to have a clean one and new season best.”
Gordei Gorshkov of Russia redeemed himself a bit after a poor showing in the short program, but still failed to land a clean triple Axel in competition. He popped his only attempt on the jump into a double, and with a score of 116.26 for the free skating, remained in last place (171.81).
Skating right after Rogozine and using the same soundtrack, Russia’s Zhan Bush had to fight for the landings of most of his jumps, and put both hands down on the landing of a flying camel spin. However, the student of Alexei Urmanov once again successfully executed a triple Axel, and was therefore satisfied with the performance which received 113.70 points. He finished seventh overall (173.75)
“I did not expect to miss the flying camel,” Bush said. “I slipped on the toe pick when I landed. Overall, I think I skated well. I think the main lesson is that I need to work harder and I need to do the quad. I am working on the quad toe.”
The Russian will root for Patrick Chan in today’s Men Finals.
“I like his skating the best,” he said.
The triple Axel did prove too difficult for USA’s Joshua Farris. The student of Tom Zarajsek stepped out of the first attempt and popped the second one into a single, hitting the boards and falling immediately afterwards. As a result, he only received 108.7 for his long program to Porgy and Bess to finish next to last last in this segment of the competition, and sixth overall (173.97).
Another skater to succumb to the pressure was teammate Keegan Messing, who stood in second after the short program. He began with a solid triple Axel, triple Lutz – double toe loop combination, and double Axel out of spread eagle, but things quickly went downhill from this point on. He stepped out of a triple Salchow, popped a second triple Axel attempt, ran into the boards at the end of the his step sequence, and slipped off the edge on a triple loop entry. With only 106.90, he finished last in the long program, but was able to secured fifth place overall (175.42).
“The opening was pretty good,” said the 18-year-old afterwards. “I figured I could do a triple toe later in the program. I was doing pretty good. I was a little shaky on triple Salchow, but held on. Then I flipped off my edge and did not put enough pressure into the ice. I messed up. I am disappointed to finish like this, but China has been such a greet experience.”