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Farris jumps his way to Liberty novice win

13-year-old sets rink abuzz with sterling free skate

13-year-old novice Joshua Farris from Colorado Springs, Colo., with his coach Tom Zakrajsek.
13-year-old novice Joshua Farris from Colorado Springs, Colo., with his coach Tom Zakrajsek. (Klaus-Reinhold Kany)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(07/18/2008) - At the 2008 Liberty Open, just about everybody is talking about Joshua Farris, the 13-year-old from Broadmoor SC who won the novice men's free skate today by more than 22 points.

"I wasn't nervous; I've been to Liberty quite a few years, and I have a lot of good memories," Farris, sounding just like a long-in-the-tooth veteran, said.

The youngster earned 94.13 points en route to the win. Performing to Gustav Holst's "The Planets," he reeled off five triples, including three in combination: a triple flip-double toe; triple Lutz-double toe; and triple Salchow-double toe-double loop. He did fall toward the end of his program on his second triple flip.

"It was hard going in to it," Farris said. "I didn't have a lot of time to train. My last competition [Broadmoor Open] was only two weeks ago."

"We made some changes to his [free] program, to make it more difficult," his coach, Tom Zakrajsek, said. "We added the second triple flip, and that changed some of the other combinations around."

Asked whether his pupil is ready for a Junior Grand Prix assignment, Zakrajsek shakes his head.

"Joshua was only an intermediate last season, so I don't think that's going to happen," the coach laughed. "He's not even age-eligible yet. Besides, there's no rush."

Both the skater's free program and his short, set to the Russian Gypsy folk song "Two Guitars," were choreographed by Tom Dickson.

Farris, who is home-schooled, has skated at Colorado Springs' World Arena under Zakrajsek and Becky Calvin for the past year and a half; previously, he lived and trained near Renton, Wash.

"[Training at World Arena] is just very motivating," the self-possessed Farris said. "It helps me work as hard as I do. Just watching Ryan [Bradley], Jeremy [Abbott], Brandon [Mroz] and Rachel [Flatt] makes me want to do more everyday."

There are few international novice competitions, so Farris' next events will be the regional and sectional qualifiers for the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January.

"He was invited to a novice international in the spring, but he would have had to pay his own way," Zakrajsek said. "We decided to use that money to help advance his skating in other ways. He might be eligible for an event next spring, that [U.S. Figure Skating] would pay for."

In the meantime, Farris will try to add the U.S. novice men's gold to his collection of national championships, which already include the 2006 U.S. juvenile and 2008 U.S. intermediate titles.