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Chan wins wet free skate at Liberty

Abbott and Bradley show promising new programs

Last season, Patrick Chan became the youngest Canadian men's champ, ever.
Last season, Patrick Chan became the youngest Canadian men's champ, ever. (Michelle Harvath)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(07/19/2008) - It was an afternoon to forget for the senior men at the Liberty Open, when 100-degree heat plus a local power brownout added up to less-than-stellar ice conditions.

Visible puddles covered the length and at least a third of the width of IceWorks' rink number two, where many of the senior and junior events have been held this week.

"They put the Zamboni out to pick up the water, but it didn't come up," veteran coach Don Laws, here with his pupil Patrick Chan, said. "I think all of the guys held back a little, which is right, they should have."

At the conclusion of the event, management lowered the lights, relocating the novice and junior pairs events to an adjacent rink. (IceWorks is a four-surface facility).

"Compressor [cooling systems] have sensors, and in a lack of power, they stop working," Jim Hazelton, assistant general manager of IceWorks, explained.

The problem was corrected in time to hold the junior ladies' final in rink number two about an hour later.

Chan, the 17-year-old Canadian champion, gutted out the win with his most mature and intricate program to date, choreographed by Lori Nichol to music from Rachmaninoff.

The skater fell on his opening triple Axel, then landed a triple flip-triple toe combination with a slightly two-footed landing on the second jump. He missed a triple Lutz and reduced his intended second triple Axel to a double, but grew more comfortable in the second half of the routine, landing a double Axel-double toe; triple Salchow; triple loop; and double Axel. His Level 3 straight-line steps were free and fast, and his closing flying sit spin gained Level 4.

"The program is exquisite, and the choreography and musicality of it and his performance of it was excellent," Laws said. "As for the [technical elements], he can do them all. I can't fault him for missing things here, because of the ice."

Curran Oi (SC of Boston), who placed sixth among junior men at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, was a surprising second with 119.70 points.

Performing his free to selections from the motion picture soundtrack, On the Waterfront composed by Leonard Bernstein, the 17-year-old high school honors student stepped out of his opening triple Axel but recovered to land five other triples, including a triple flip-triple toe combination.

"He did great," the skater's coach, Peter Johansson, said. "He has worked really hard to get stronger, and has matured a lot from last year.

"Curran is a full-time student and is very academic, so he sometimes struggles to have enough hours in his day to study and skate."

Third place went to Shaun Rogers (University of Delaware FSC), who competed to a medley to music from the motion picture soundtrack Grindhouse.

The skater, who turns 23 next week, fell on his opening quad toe before landing a triple Axel-double toe; a triple toe; and a strong triple loop. He faltered on his next few jumps before hitting a solid triple Salchow-double toe-double loop combination near the end of his program.

Rogers, who is known as a superior jumper, is working hard to improve his spins and "in-between" skating.

"I scored Level 2's and 3's on my spins here last year; today, I got two Level 3's and one Level 4 [on a flying sit spin]," he said. "I've also worked hard on presentation, so that's been good."

Two Colorado Springs-based skaters -- Jeremy Abbott and Ryan Bradley -- used Liberty to show free programs that promise well for the upcoming season.

Abbott's intricate, cerebral free skate, choreographed by Tom Dickson to Astor Piazzolla's "Eight Seasons Tango," was smoothly delivered artistically but had a few technical glitches. The skater landed just two clean triples -- a toe and a Salchow -- and faltered a bit on his closing camel combination spin, lowering it to Level 1.

More important, Liberty allowed Abbott to gain more mileage on the program, which earned 114.21 points for fourth place.

"My programs feel comfortable and I really like doing them," the 23-year-old Abbott said. "I've had a bit of a rough time training here this week and I felt a little unstable out there today.

"It was a good experience for me, though, because it's shown me the stuff that I need to work on -- things that I've known but really haven't been able to put finger on."

Bradley's free, choreographed by Catarina Lindgren to themes from western movies including The Magnificent Seven and The Good, Bad and the Ugly, was more of what Zakrajsek described as a "work in progress."

Although the skater landed several difficult jumps, including a big triple Axel and a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop combination, a music stoppage and a disruptive forward fall on footwork made it difficult to evaluate the highly entertaining program.

"It was so wet, I had to stop and wipe off my face," joked Bradley after the event.