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Something to smile about: Savary wins gold

Short program winner Chen follows in second place

2009 intermediate men's champ Emmanuel Savary at last year's event in Lake Placid, N.Y.
2009 intermediate men's champ Emmanuel Savary at last year's event in Lake Placid, N.Y. (Becca Staed)

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By Becca Staed, special to icenetwork.com
(12/14/2008) - Emmanuel Savary (University of Delaware FSC) never stops smiling.

"It just comes naturally," he said. "Everyone at school says I smile a lot. It's a compliment for me because I like smiling."

His victory Saturday night at the 2009 U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships, which earned him the title of U.S. intermediate men's champion, provided him a clear-cut reason to smile, if he didn't have one already. He last attended this event two years ago, placing only sixth in juvenile men.

Savary sat second after the short program with a 32.53, over three points behind Nathan Chen (Salt Lake Figure Skating), but brought an arsenal of triple jumps in his free skate to help glide into first.

Skating dead last to the Aladdin theme song, Savary landed four double jumps, including two double Axels and three triples -- a triple toe, triple Salchow-double toe-double loop and another triple Salchow. His spins were decent, earning a Level 2 and 3, and he took the second-highest program component mark behind the 9-year-old Chen.

"I just came here to skate my best," Savary said. "I didn't really care about the results as long as I had fun and a good skate."

As skill would have it, his "good skate" was enough to earn him his first national medal, as well as an introduction to two-time Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan, who is also the voice of icenetwork.com, and an on-air interview with her.

"It's so cool because I thought of her as a legend growing up, and I am so happy to finally meet her," he beamed.

Chen moved into the silver-medal spot following his third-place free skate, but he said he's "pretty cool with it."

"It's fair because he has triples, and I only have a double Axel," explained Chen, who stands just over four feet tall.

He donned a metallic silver, long-sleeved shirt for his Transformers free skate, which featured nine flawless double jumps, two Level 4 spins and the highest program component mark of 30.03. In the beginning of the routine, he "transformed" like the characters in the movie.

"I bought the DVD and watched it over and over and decided I wanted a couple scenes from the movie in my program," he said.

His 62.31-point free skate score gave him a competition mark of 98.17 and his first silver medal at this event (he took third in the juvenile boys event last year).

Making an impressive move from sixth place after the short to second in the free skate was bronze medalist Shotaro Omori (Los Angeles FSC). He earned 64.86 for his long program and 95.60 overall.

The 13-year-old said he felt really strong after placing first at the Southwest Pacific Regional Championships in October and wanted to make it into the top four here.

"He has such a great work ethic," said coach D.J. Vincent. "He is out there working really hard all the time."

Omori landed five of six double jumps cleanly and two of three triple jumps without a flaw. His spins earned a Level 2 and 3s. For the most part, though, Omori enjoyed skating to the music -- "Rondo Capriccioso" by Saint-Saëns.

Finishing fourth with 87.52 total points was Cordero Zuckerman (Fairbanks FSC), who struggled with several jumps in his program. He took off on a wrong edge for his double Lutz-double loop and fell on his double Lutz, all while coach Lisa Kriley shouted "Push!" from off the ice.