Rippon leads field after short program

U.S. skaters take two of top three spots

World junior champion Adam Rippon smashed his own impressive point-total record in Sofia.
World junior champion Adam Rippon smashed his own impressive point-total record in Sofia. (Michelle Harvath)


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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to
(02/25/2009) - The reigning world junior champion, Adam Rippon of the United States, bested 40 other competitors to win the men's short program at this year's ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Skating to a modern version of Bach's "Toccata and Fugue," he started his program with an impressive combination of triple flip and triple toe loop but ran into some trouble when he stepped out of his triple Axel. The six other elements in his program, including three Level 4 spins, were enough to put him on top of the standings.

"I am really excited to come back to Bulgaria because I had a lot of success here last year. To come back as the reigning champion -- I did not think of that very much. If I think more about it, there would have been more pressure that I just would have put on myself," said Rippon after the short program.

"I gained a lot of experience during the senior Grand Prix [Series]. This really helped me and brought my skating to a higher level. It is kind of an awkward year for me with my coaching change, but I hope to continue to a good end. It is an honor to skate on the same ice in Canada as Yu-Na Kim; I can learn a lot from her."

Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic captured second place. He started with a triple Axel, which he executed with effortless excellence -- and for which he netted +3 -- followed by his combination, which featured a solid triple flip. He did, however, single the toe loop in that sequence -- the one blemish on an otherwise impressive performance for which he earned an average of 6.4 on his components.

"I know the rink from last year; I know the ice. It is all about a competition. I did not know what happened with my combination. I think there was a hole in the ice where I wanted to jump off for the toeloop. But this is not an excuse, this is an every day job," said Brezina of his performance.

Curran Oi of Boston, Mass., rounded out the top three after a flawless short program which included a scintillating triple Axel, a safe combination of triple flip and triple toe loop, two Level 4 spins and one Level 3 spin.

"It is a great privilege to be here, and I really was happy just to skate my best. It is a bit of a surprise for me to be third. I was here two years ago for the junior final, and I know the rink," commented Oi.

Florent Amodio of France seemingly collapsed under the pressure of being the favorite, missing no less than four of his elements. He finished a disappointing 19th.

U.S. junior champion Ross Miner had to skate early in the event, starting fifth out of 41 skaters, because he has no world ranking points after not appearing in any international competitions this season. He started his short program to a Western music medley with good speed and a safe combination of triple flip and triple toe loop and continued with a triple Lutz, which was a bit shaky. Two of his spins got Level 4, and one received a Level 3. His performance was good enough for ninth place overall.

"After my surprise victory at nationals, I did not rest but felt a lot of pressure to do well here. We chose this Bonanza Western music, although this TV series is not on my top ten list, but it is a nice music," said Miner.