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Messing's 'Pirates of the Caribbean' takes home gold

Chen's 'Godfather' even better the second time around

Keegan Messing will treasure the win his <i>Pirates of the Caribbean</i> routine earned.
Keegan Messing will treasure the win his Pirates of the Caribbean routine earned. (Michelle Harvath)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(07/17/2011) - Keegan Messing's debut of his Pirates of the Caribbean free skate wasn't perfect, but the Alaskan left Liberty on top of the world, out-dueling the senior men.

"The Level 4 on the [straight-line] footwork was the highlight of the competition for me," he said. "That's the first time I ever got it."

Skating with tremendous speed, Messing opened with a triple Axel, but missed the landing of an under-rotated quadruple toe loop. His flying sit spin and steps were fast and sure, but the 19-year-old lost steam halfway through the routine and singled or doubled several intended triple jumps.

Messing earned 112.90 points for the program, which was choreographed by Rory Flack and received polishing touches from Gary Irving.

"We came here knowing it wasn't really ready," Messing said. "The first goal was to put it out there and present everything I possible could."

"He exerted himself a little too much off the top," Messing's coach, Ralph Burghart, said. "The program is only three weeks old so the timing isn't fully developed.

"I'm happy with the Level 4 on the footwork, happy with the progress of the program. The jumps are all there. We just have to put it together."

Messing, who placed eighth at 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, next competes at Skate Detroit Jul. 19-23. It is the first time he has done the Liberty and Detroit competitions back-to-back.

"Traveling from Alaska is so expensive. We want to make it as cost-effective as possible and get in front of as many judges as we can," Messing said.

Scott Dyer and Alexander Zahradnicek finished right on Messing's heels, with just two-tenths of a point separating the top three senior men.

Dyer, a superb spinner, performed a lyrical routine choreographed by Nathan Birch to "Grand Canyon Suite." The University of Southern California (USC) sophomore opened with a strong triple Lutz, but had two other triples downgraded. He landed a solid triple Salchow-double toe in the program's latter half.

"I'm working to add a triple-triple to the program, and I'm also working on a triple Axel," Dyer, who trains under Ken Congemi at Los Angeles' Toyoto Sports Center, said.

Zahradnicek, the 2011 U.S. junior silver medalist, gained the highest technical element score (56.68) of the event by landing five clean triples, but his program components score (57.02) was several points behind the top two finishers'.

Chen notches another win in junior men's final
Bright new star Nathan Chen showed his consistency with another impressive free skate to music from The Godfather, including the triple loop that eluded him in his first outing of the program on Friday.

The 12-year-old from Salt Lake City earned 114.85 points for the seven-triple program, slightly above the standard set earlier in the competition.

Emmanuel Savary, who trains at the University of Delaware under older brother Joel and Jeff DiGregorio, had a solid free to music from The Lion King that included five clean triples. Although the 13-year-old fell on a triple flip and had a triple loop downgraded, he placed second with 100.64 points.

"I was really happy with my performance," Savary said. "I just want to build on what I've been [practicing] and make everything better and stronger."

Brother Joel says Emmanuel looks forward to competing at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, Calif.

"The larger the audience, the better he performs," Joel said.