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Razzano surprises some in senior men's short

U.S. junior champ Miner finishes second; Cassar takes third

Douglas Razzano hung out rinkside earlier in the week in Aston, Pa.
Douglas Razzano hung out rinkside earlier in the week in Aston, Pa. (Liz Leamy)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(07/18/2009) - In an early-season upset, Douglas Razzano won the senior men's short program at the Liberty Summer Competition with a stirring performance to Debussy's "Clair de lune."

"I felt very good, very in control, and very relaxed, which is the key for me," Razzano said. "I just went out there and skated."

Performing to choreography by Shin Amano, the 20-year-old Razzano opened with a strong triple Axel, followed by a good attempt at a quad toe. Although he fell on the move, it was judged to be fully rotated by the technical panel.

"I knew if anything went wrong today, it would be that quad," said the skater, who trains in Scottsdale, Ariz., under Doug Ladret. "It's been working at home, but I've only landed three here this week. I want one in the free skate, though."

The rest of his elements -- including a triple toe-triple toe combination, a Level 4 camel combination spin and high flying sit spin -- were solid. Razzano earned 67.50 points, including the highest technical score of the event -- 39.10.

Skating to Bizet's Carmen, reigning U.S. junior champion Ross Miner placed second with 65.76 points.

The 18-year-old opened with a triple Axel that wobbled a bit on the landing, but he recovered with a triple Lutz-triple toe combination and a strong triple flip. Although his camel combination spin dropped to a Level 1, his other two spins earned Level 4s.

"The camel is just not my best spin," admitted Miner, who trains under Peter Johansson and Mark Mitchell at the Skating Club of Boston. "For me, any form of a back camel needs work."

At first, Miner wasn't too pleased with his coaches' choice of music.

"When Mark told me I would be skating to Carmen, I said, 'Uh, no, I'm not,'" he said. "But, after I started skating to it on a daily basis, I began to like it."

Miner is competing on the Junior Grand Prix circuit this fall, but he will compete at the 2010 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships as a senior.

Jonathan Cassar placed third with 62.90 points, gaining the highest program components of the event -- 30.10.

The 22-year-old Oakland University student opened with a triple Lutz-double toe, followed by a solid triple flip. His spread eagle sequence drew applause from the crowd.

"He's got a triple Lutz-triple toe, but he didn't do it, because he landed the Lutz too far to the left," Cassar's coach, Julianne Berlin, said. "He didn't hold a variation in his closing combination spin long enough, so it dropped to Level 1. But he's a great spinner, so he still got a nice score."

Cassar, a dance major, chose music from a piece performed by his dance group.

"We brought the music to [choreographer] David Wilson last season, and I think he really created something special," Berlin said. "The program really draws you in."

"I've been working with people on and off the ice to make the program more intricate," Cassar added. "I felt I did a decent job of reaching the audience. The thing I like about this program is it has unexpected elements that come out of nowhere."

Tommy Steenberg was fourth with 62.17 points. The skater, who trains under Audrey Weisiger in Fairfax, Va., fell out of his opening triple Axel but recovered with a triple Lutz-double toe combo and a solid triple flip. Two of his spins gained Level 4s.

"It's been two years since I've done this competition, and I felt well trained for this," said Steenberg. "Last year, I had to skip Liberty because I had a broken foot, and I feel so much stronger now."

Fifth place went to Shaun Rogers, who skated to music from Apocalypta and Vitamin String Quartet. He planned to open his program with a quad toe combination but turned out of the landing of his quad and was unable to complete the second jump.

"The quad was a little off, but I felt good on my other jumps," Rogers said. "Overall, it was good, better than my first competition [the Chesapeake Open]."

Keegan Messing placed sixth with a stirring program to classical music from the soundtrack of The Soloist.

The Alaskan teen opened with a strong triple Axel, but he hit the boards on the second jump of his triple Lutz-triple toe combo. He finished with 61.80 points.

"He just took one step too many going into the Lutz, and the wall got in the way," said Messing's coach, Ralph Burghart.

The ambitious teen will compete on the Junior Grand Prix circuit this fall, but he'll switch to the senior level at the 2010 AT&T U.S. Championships.

"I really have no choice with the Grand Prix events; I'd rather do senior," he said. "There are so many big, top guys. I know I have [just a small] chance at nationals, but I can grasp that chance and use it. My goal is to do a quad Salchow in the short there; I have nothing to lose. I want to go out and have fun, because this is like a free year."

Messing, a noted yo-yo enthusiast, is competing here with a mouse under one eye after a mishap with a difficult trick earlier this week.

"It's amazing how fast those yo-yos can come at you. There was nothing to do but stand there and say, 'Ouch,'" he said.

Armin Mahbanoozadeh was seventh with 60.40 points. Former U.S. silver medalist Ryan Bradley had a rough outing, missing his quad combination and popping his triple Axel into a double. He placed eighth with 54.75 points.