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Rinkside at 2009 U.S. Champs, Part 2

Novice men's champ has many heroes; Lysacek launches new website

New novice men's champion Joshua Farris looks up to skating legend Brian Boitano.
New novice men's champion Joshua Farris looks up to skating legend Brian Boitano. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(01/20/2009) - More behind the scenes reports from day two at the 2009 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Cleveland, Ohio.

Come on up for the rising

Joshua Farris will bring a historic memory home with him to Colorado Springs.

When the 14-year-old took the ice for warm-up, George W. Bush was the President of the United States. After he performed his winning free skate, Barack Obama had been sworn in.

"There was a lot of important stuff going on," said the new U.S. novice men's champ, who landed six triples -- including a triple Lutz, triple toe combo -- en route to a 27.45-point victory. He ended the event with 161.05 points.

Farris and his coach, Tom Zakrajsek, attribute much of the skater's precocity to training in Colorado Springs alongside senior men like Jeremy Abbott, Ryan Bradley and Brandon Mroz, who inspire him to do great things.

"They've made me determined to do the [same elements] they do," he said. "I want to work on the quad and the triple Axel. Of course I'm not there yet, but it's really fun. I'm not nervous about [the big jumps]. I'm anxious, wanting to compete. I'm tired of waiting."

"I've set up teams, and Josh is on a team with Brandon," Zakrajsek, who has nine single skaters competing in Cleveland, added. "Brandon is kind of a mentor to him."

Next on the agenda: a triple Axel and, hopefully, a Junior Grand Prix assignment this fall.

"He has landed, I think, five triple Axels [in practice], so he already knows the rotation on the jump," Zakrajsek said.

Much as he looks up to his Colorado Springs teammates, Farris calls an all-time great his favorite skater.

"Brian Boitano -- he skates really confidently and finishes every move with nice positions and pizazz," he said.

Farris shares something with Boitano, the 1988 Olympic gold medalist: the triple Lutz is his favorite element. Strange, then, that a slight stumble on the jump was the only major mistake in his otherwise great free.

"I thought, 'Well, that was weird. I shouldn't have done that,'" he said. "But the [double] Axel was coming up next, and I just thought, 'Hey, I can do this.'"

Boitano would be proud.

New roomies

Alex Shibutani, who was accepted at University of Michigan, will get some new roommates this fall.

"Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Evan Bates, Trevor Young and I will be sharing a house," the 18-year-old ice dancer said. "I'm pretty excited."

White, Bates and Young all train in Michigan, as does Shibutani. Young is half of a pair partnership with Andrea Best; the rest are ice dancers.

It's unusual for an incoming freshman to live off-campus, but Shibutani sees many advantages, including never missing an early-morning practice.

"It's not in the dorms, but we're all skaters, so there'll be no conflicting schedules," he said. "If I was living in a dorm, I might have to worry about having my roommates come in at 2 a.m."

Right now, both Alex and his 14-year-old sister Maia are attending Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., where Maia is a freshman.

"It's a fresh high school experience; I'm enjoying it a lot," she said.

"Sometimes its tough meeting people when you go to a new school, but Maia is so outgoing," Alex added. "She's made a lot of friends. She has her group."

Lysacek launches new site

Two-time defending U.S. champion Evan Lysacek has launched a new website dedicated to bringing figure skating fans closer to the action.

"I am really, really excited to have my new official Web site online in time for nationals," Lysacek said. "I've been working really hard with my webmaster to make sure my site is something that fans can really enjoy. I hope that everyone thinks it's pretty cool."

In addition to a new design, EvanLysacek.com includes new features like the fan zone, where fans can download graphics or listen to songs recently played on Lysacek's iPod. The fan zone also includes links to Lysacek's Facebook page and the Evan Lysacek Fan Forum, a message board maintained by a group of fans.

There's also a section highlighting the skater's work with charities like the Ronald McDonald House, which recently named him a celebrity friend, and photo galleries with shots dating back to Lysacek's senior debut at the 2002 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.