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Improved training makes Rippon ripe for run

Adam Rippon credits improved training techniques for his junior men's short program win.
Adam Rippon credits improved training techniques for his junior men's short program win. (Paul Harvath)

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By Liz Leamy, special to icenetwork.com
(01/24/2008) - Adam Rippon won the junior men's short program on Wednesday with a total score of 71.33, giving him a 3.18-point lead over the rest of the competition at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Although his jumps were solid, it was his footwork that ignited the crowd and vaulted his dramatic routine, set to Bach, into first place.

A win in Saint Paul would put a cap on a breakout season for the 18-year-old, who placed sixth in the junior men's event at the 2007 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

So, what is Rippon's recipe for success? Well, for starters, he trains alongside world silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi, whose fleet feet are generally considered the best in skating today. And his programs are choreographed by Nikolai Morozov, coach and choreographer for Takahashi, 2006 Olympic ladies champion Shizuka Arawaka, 2007 world champion Miki Ando and countless other stars.

"I really have to thank Nikolai," said Rippon. "Before, I could do all of the jumps and spins, but couldn't put them all in a program correctly. I knew I had the pieces, but he has helped me to put them all together."

Last March, the teen moved from Delaware to The Ice House in Hackensack, New Jersey, to join the in-demand Morozov's ever-growing group.

Since making the move, Rippon has racked up the medals. The buzz started in July, when he won the junior men's short program at the Liberty Open. In the fall, he skated away with gold at the Junior Grand Prix in Romania and silver in Bulgaria.

In December, he topped off his fall season with a gold medal at the Junior Grand Prix Final in Gdansk, Poland.

"That was very exciting," Rippon said. "At that point I knew I was starting to put everything together.

"I think Nikolai has helped me to feel my body in all of my skating a lot more, and I've really been training hard at that."

Rippon said the move to Hackensack, a suburb of New York City, was easy.

"I lived in Philadelphia, so I was used to living in a big city," he explained. "My life is pretty much centered around skating and school. To be honest, I really don't have a lot of time to do very much else, which is fine."

Rippon, a senior at the Abington High School in Pennsylvania, studies via computer correspondence.

Does he have any Olympic dreams in mind? Yes, absolutely.

"When I train, I have to admit, I do have the Olympics in mind," he said. "When I look around the ice in Hackensack and see skaters like Daisuke and Miki, it's hard not to dream."