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Mining For Gold

by Barry Mittan
Barry Mittan

Ross Miner performs his Long Program to music by George Gershwin at the 2009 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Vermont’s Ross Miner is in the hunt for gold – medals that is. The talented 18-year-old won the gold medal in the men’s junior division at the 2009 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships on his first try. He previously won the gold in the intermediate division in 2006 and the silver in novice in 2008.

However, Miner missed qualifying for nationals in 2007 (by .29 points). He placed first in the short at Eastern sectionals, but blew the long and placed fifth overall. “It made me a better skater,” he said. “I learned to work harder and skate every day.”

Miner finished tenth at the 2009 World Junior Figure Skating Championships – his first ISU championship event. His only previous international experience was a silver medal at the Gardena Spring Trophy in 2008.

“This season, I plan to move up to seniors in the U.S.,” he said, “but I want to do the Junior Grand Prixs internationally. My long term goal is just to get as good as I can at skating and learn something from it. I’ll continue as long as it makes me happy.”

He began the 2009-10 season with a second place finish (in both the short and long programs) at the Liberty Open in July, losing to Olympic contender Patrick Chan by just six points in the free and scoring the highest technical score in the event.

Miner, who was born in Burlington, Vermont, first started skating when he was three years old. “I just wanted to learn how to skate,” he said. “Then I started playing hockey and kept playing until I was twelve. I played left wing and center in recreational leagues and a county travel team. I also took figure skating lessons at the same time.”

“I decided to concentrate more on skating because there were like three skaters in Vermont and five thousand hockey players,” he continued. “There’s a good ratio of girls to boys too. I gave up hockey when I moved to Boston in 2003. I knew if I wanted to take figure skating seriously, I’d have to go to a place with lots of other skaters.”

Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson coach Miner, who trains at the Skating Club of Boston five days a week for three hours a day. “I also do about two hours off ice training,” Miner noted. “That includes conditioning and Pilates and gyrotonics. It’s sort of a ballet, Pilates, yoga mix.” He also works with Bobby Martin.

“I tried out with a couple of coaches, Miner added. “I really liked the atmosphere at the Skating Club of Boston. At the time, I was very bad. I was even cheating a double Salchow. Mark and Peter have been very patient with me and put in the time to make me better. I get along with them very well and their training technique makes perfect sense to me.”

Miner landed his first triple at 14. “It was a triple toe, but then I hurt myself doing it and had to quit for a while. I can [also] do a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple flip-triple toe and a triple Axel-triple toe, but I don’t do any loop combinations. I’m not a loop kind of guy.”

His 2009-10 short program contains a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, triple flip and triple Axel. In his long, Miner includes a triple flip-triple toe and a triple Lutz-double toe-double toe combination, a double and a triple Axel, and four other solo triples – flip, loop, Lutz, and Salchow.

“Right now, I’m just trying to maintain consistency of the jumps I have,” he added. “I’ve tried a quad toe loop and gotten around on it, but fallen. My triple Axel is getting much more consistent, but there is still work to go. As to quad toe, that’s on the back-burner while I focus on my programs.”

“I feel I’ve finally made some strides towards getting my style more smooth, and my new programs really allow me to showcase that new refinement.” Miner said when asked how he’s improved over the summer thus far. “I can put on a show but my skating’s still not as polished as I’d like to have it. Showmanship has always been the easiest aspect of skating for me. I love to get the crowd behind me.”

“My new music for the short is Carmen, but it’s a very different version that is only really recognizable as Carmen for very brief sections,” Miner noted. “It was choreographed by Jamie Isley. Mark and Peter both loved it and were very excited about it, but at first I was a little put off by the fact that it was Carmen, because it was such a change from my previous style. Now I love it!”

“My new long is a collection of Piazzolla Tangos choreographed by Mark Mitchell,” he added. “I’m really getting into this program and starting to find some character in it.” His show number this year is Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.

Off ice, Miner said, “I listen to all sorts of stuff – the Beatles, oldies, and more artistic, alternative music that most people don’t listen to.”

He also enjoys hanging out with friends, reading the classics, watching independent films and practicing photography. “I don’t do one thing,” offered Miner. “I take pictures of whatever I feel like.” He also plays soccer, Scrabble and ping pong tennis for fun.

Miner lacks a few hours credit for his high school degree but hopes to complete the coursework before the fall. “I’m taking this year off to focus on skating,” he said. “I’ll be applying to universities next year, hopefully to study medicine but my career goals are still evolving.”

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