Rubke channels Kwan to repeat as champion

Two-time champ Powley settles for silver; pairs silver medalist Stanford takes bronze

Michael Rubke won championship masters intermediate/novice men at the U.S. Adult Championships for the second year in a row.
Michael Rubke won championship masters intermediate/novice men at the U.S. Adult Championships for the second year in a row. (Matt Parat)


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By Andy Schell, special to
(04/14/2012) - Skating with a heavenly style to match his angelic music, Michael Rubke (Los Angeles FSC) defended his championship masters intermediate/novice men's title at the 2012 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships.

His was the complete program, well paced and measured with calm intensity, his speed building throughout the performance. With elements that included a huge Axel, a solid double loop, a springy double Salchow and a gorgeous death drop, Rubke drew in the crowd as the program progressed.

"I am a Michelle Kwan fan, and here's my cheesy skating confession: I like to channel her intensity from 2004, when she skated to Tosca," Rubke admitted.

It works for him. His final score was 36.81, and his program components were the highest in the event.

Veteran showman Burton Powley claimed silver with a score of 35.61. He's won the event twice, once in 2008 and again in 2010. A powerhouse of a one-man show who creates his own costumes, chooses his own music and choreographs his own programs, Burton's favorite move is his "Burtono" double toe, with his arm over his head. The audience likes it, too.

A skating coach with his master's degree in art, Powley uses the ice like a canvas, often deviating from his program if the spirit moves him. His program included two double Salchows and two double toe loops, but it was his positive GOEs on his spiral sequence that made him happiest.

"I love it!" he said, smiling.

Skating first, and skating just 20 minutes after winning the silver medal in the championship adult pairs event, Mark Stanford took the bronze with a total score of 33.81.

"We had to delay the medal ceremony in pairs so I could skate!" he laughed.

A studied dancer who has skated in the ensemble with Ice Theater of New York, Stanford shared his fabulous sense of style (as well as stamina) in every move of his program, set to selections from Strictly Ballroom.

"I just wanted to skate and have fun," he said. "I value having a good attitude with my fellow competitors, and just being happy."

His opening double toe loop was explosive, and his crispness and speed were impressive, considering it was his second championship within an hour.

Christopher Williams, looking dashing in the best costume of the event, wowed the crowd with his signature hydroplane move. His score of 31.96 earned him the pewter medal.