In landing five clean triple jumps, 19-year-old Jeremy Abbott clinched the Junior Men’s title at the 2005 State Farm US Figure Skating Championships on Thursday afternoon in Portland, Oregon. Abbott, who skated to a medley of music by the Safri Duo, earned scores of 5.0-5.4 for technical merit, and 5.1-5.5 for presentation. Craig Ratterree, third after the short program was second. Michael Peters placed second in the free skate, but was too far back after the short to challenge Ratterree for the silver, and had to settle for bronze.
Abbott opened his program with a shaky triple lutz-double toe combination, but pulled it together to land a nice triple salchow immediately after. Abbott stated, “When anything felt a little off, I knew that I could get it back.” After a clean triple flip, Abbott popped his planned triple Axel into a single, but used superior speed, flow, and choreography to win the title. “I’m really excited (to win), but my program wasn’t the best that it has been,” Abbott said.
Ratterree, who is recovering from a three-week bout with bronchitis, landed a beautiful triple Axel to open his program, to which he celebrated with a pumped fist. “That opening Axel,” boasted Ratterree, “was what I was focusing on the whole time.” Ratterree went on to land four more triple jumps, but had trouble on two others. However, Ratterree’s program to Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony was highlighted with a zippy footwork sequence, though it was apparent that he ran out of steam at the end of the program. “Breathing was definitely a major problem for me,” relayed Ratterree. “This is the first run through (of the free skate) that I have done in three weeks.”
In sixth place after the short program, Peters skated a playful program to the William Tell Overture, and landed five clean triples in the process. Peters, like Ratterree, opened with a powerful triple Axel, and earned technical marks from 4.9-5.3. For presentation, Peters earned no mark lower than 5.0, and went as high as 5.3.
Douglas Razzano, who was in second place after the short program, fell to fourth place after skating a guarded performance to the music of Tosca. Fifteen year-old upstart Princeton Kwong was fifth.
Abbott, Ratterree, and Peters all plan to compete on the Championship Level next season. Abbott’s coach, Tom Zakrajsek added, however, “He (Abbott) will have to up the ante if he wants to be competitive.” After the Championship Men’s short program last night, Abbott has his work cut out for him. Thirteen of the competitors in that competition landed a triple Axel.
Competition continues with the Championship Dance and Pairs finals tonight at the Rose Garden. Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto seek to retain their National crown in the dance competition, while Kathryn Orscher and Garrett Lucash, leaders after the short program attempt to win their first.