Ice Network

Intense preparation pays off for Texan Glenn

Skater lands triple flip-triple toe for first time in short to take lead
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Amber Glenn, a bronze medalist in the Junior Grand Prix Series last fall, heated up the ice Wednesday with her "Summertime" program, winning the short with a record score of 63.99. -Jay Adeff

When Amber Glenn was 4, she had trouble staying with her beginning ice skating classes.

"She would leave her group and just go and do her own thing," said Ann Brumbaugh, who was the skating director at the Texas rink where Glenn got her start.

It wasn't long before she started making up programs to other skaters' music. It was virtually impossible not to notice her, and Brumbaugh, who was the skating director at the time and working with higher-level skaters, soon became her coach.

Glenn continues to garner the spotlight today.

She commanded the crowd's attention right from the beginning of her short program with a triple flip-triple toe combination and maintained her energy right through to the end to take the lead in the junior ladies short program Wednesday night at the 2014 Prudential U.S Figure Skating Championships.

It was the first time this season she had landed the triple-triple in her short program, but that wasn't the only element that shined. Her program, skated to Giovanni's "Summertime," also featured a lovely triple loop, and all of her spins and step sequences earned Level 4's, for a new U.S. record score (for a junior ladies short program) of 63.99 points.

"I felt really relieved," Glenn said about landing the combination. "But I really tried to stay focused for the rest of the program. I wanted to stay in the moment."

Brumbaugh, who coaches Glenn along with Ben Shroats at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in McKinney, Texas, said the short program was the result of a lot of mental exercises back at the rink. Every afternoon in the weeks leading up to this event, Glenn was put through "mental fire drills." The coaches would replicate a competition by giving their skaters a six-minute warm-up, and then they would have to do a program run-through.

It worked.

Glenn, who placed fifth at the junior level last year and was second in novice in 2012, has her sights set on winning the junior title this time in Boston. Her free skate features a triple flip-triple toe and a triple Lutz-triple toe.

But she will face some tough competition from Tyler Pierce, who is in second place with 62.38 points. Ashley Shin, who like Glenn also represents the Dallas Figure Skating Club, sits in third place with 57.91 points.

Pierce led a four-skater contingent from California who are all coached by Tammy Gambill. Her program featured a triple toe-triple toe combination.

"I was excited to show everything that I can do," Pierce said.

In addition to her jumping ability, Pierce also displayed a dancer's style with her spins. She takes two ballet classes a week.

"I want to have everything polished," she said.

Karen Chen, who also trains with Gambill, medaled at both of her Junior Grand Prix events this season, winning one, and was one of the early favorites for the title. However, while practicing a triple Lutz, she twisted her ankle on the landing and broke it. She said she was on crutches for four weeks and did not resume training until three weeks ago.

But she and Gambill said doctors gave her clearance to compete this week, and Chen was on the plane from California to Boston almost as soon as they gave her the go-ahead.

"I really wanted to compete here," said Chen, who only started training triples last week. "I was very determined and wanted to make it happen."

She landed an opening triple Lutz-double toe but stepped out of her double Axel and fell on a triple loop. Still, her Biellmann spin was gorgeous, and the judges rewarded her for her artistry.

Gambill said she fully expects Chen to compete in the free skate, which is set for Friday at TD Garden.

"She's here for the duration," Gambill said. "That little girl just amazes me. She is one tough little cookie."