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Men rev up quads at Liberty Summer Competition

Miner to debut programs; Mroz pushes envelope with quad loop

Ross Miner is putting his two new programs on display this week at Liberty.
Ross Miner is putting his two new programs on display this week at Liberty. (Tom Briglia)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(07/19/2012) - The season is just getting underway, and already Ross Miner is ahead of the game.

The U.S. bronze medalist, who worked with Colorado Springs choreographers Catarina Lindgren and Tom Dickson this spring on two new programs, will debut both at the Liberty Summer Competition on Friday and Saturday.

"I wasn't planning on doing both here at first, and then I thought, 'I'm in a place where I can do both,'" Miner, 21, said. "I'm here to show what I've been working on. I'm not too worried about what happens in terms of placement. I just want to show the work I've put in, and I think Liberty is an excellent competition for that."

Miner's coach, Peter Johansson, wants his skater to try two quads here, the toe and the Salchow.

"That's why he's here, to get those [quads] out there," said Johansson, who with Mark Mitchell coaches Miner at the Skating Club of Boston. "Ross can do them; now he needs to do them in the programs."

"I'm probably going to do the toe in the short and the Salchow in the long, get them out there," Miner said. "I tried the Salchow last year at Cranberry Open, but it wasn't ready yet. This is sort of the first time I feel I can do this, and I know I can do it."

The 2012 U.S. bronze medalist, who capped his 2011-12 campaign with a bronze medal at the 2012 Four Continents Championships, is playing the role of swashbuckler this season, skating his free to the score of the 1935 Errol Flynn movie Captain Blood.

"I'm having a great time doing it," he said. "Tom has a good eye for what's natural for my body and what works. A lot of the movements are easy for me to do, and do well. I think the program is really well paced, and I feel like I'm more put together than I usually am at this time of the year, so I'm really excited about that."

The short, choreographed by Lindgren (Dickson's wife) to Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini," offers a change of pace.

"I thought, going into it, Tom and Catarina would have very similar methods and styles of choreographing, but they were so different," Miner said. "They're so different from each other, and also the styles I've done in the past -- it's exciting every day to go in and work."

Prior to this season, Miner worked almost exclusively with California choreographer Jamie Isley, who visited the SC of Boston each spring.

It was Isley's idea for Miner to branch out.

"I love working with Jamie, and I'm sure I'll work with her again," Miner said. "She told me, 'Ross, I know exactly what you're going to do before you do it.' She wanted me to stretch myself, and she was right. It has been really productive to work with two different choreographers."

Mroz shoots for quad loop

Last season, 2009 U.S. silver medalist Brandon Mroz, who already owned a quad toe, became the first skater ever to land a quad Lutz in competition at the 2011 Colorado Springs Invitational (Watch it here). Later that fall, he landed it at the NHK Trophy.

Now, the 21-year-old hopes to add quad loop to his résumé.

"[The loop] feels so natural, I've made it a priority," he said. "I'm doing it in the ["Mack the Knife"] short here, and then, depending on how it goes, I'll do [quad] Lutz in the free.

"I love learning new tricks; it gets my adrenaline flowing. I can do flip, loop, Lutz, so why not start putting them into my programs?"

Tom Zakrajsek, who coaches Mroz at the Colorado Springs World Arena, thinks landing multiple quads is his skater's trademark.

"He's showing you can do more than quad toe and quad Salchow," Zakrajsek said. "Maybe that will be his legacy to the sport."

For his free skate, Mroz has returned to the program he used during his successful 2008-09 season, a Bach medley, including "Toccata and Fugue," choreographed by Lori Nichol.

"Any program by Lori is a great program, and this one is really well constructed," Zakrajsek said. "Brandon knows his body better now than he did then, so he can perform it even better."

"I felt like [the Bach medley] and On the Waterfront were my two best," Mroz said. "I felt like I really got into the rhythm. We may work with Jeff Buttle to make some changes to it."

Miner and Mroz will square off against another Zakrajsek student, 20-year-old Max Aaron, who finished eighth at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, as well as Alaskan Keegan Messing, the seventh-place finisher at the 2012 U.S. Championships, and national competitor Wesley Campbell. Harrison Choate and Timothy Koleto, fourth and sixth, respectively, in juniors at the 2012 U.S. Championships, are also scheduled to compete.