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Melnyk shows growth, wins novice men's short

Wong well back in second; Birthday boy Anderson takes third

Oleksi Melnyk won the novice men's short program by almost 12 points.
Oleksi Melnyk won the novice men's short program by almost 12 points. (Jay Adeff)

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By Renee Felton, special to icenetwork.com
(09/14/2012) - Oleksi Melnyk battled growing pains and, as a result, spent the summer re-learning his triple jumps. Now entering his second novice season and looking to improve on his 11th-place finish at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, he appears to be on the path to improvement.

Melnyk easily won the novice men's short program at the 2012 U.S. Challenge Skate with a segment score of 46.44 points.

"Since last season, I've worked on getting back all my jumps," he explained. "I lost them when I grew several inches. I learned all of the triples again and have had to work on my stability, too. So far, I'm feeling much better than I was."

Melnyk, who's competing for the third time in this early season, improved on his 2012 U.S. Championships segment score by more than five points. His "Mon Ami" program featured an opening triple Lutz-double toe and a triple flip. All six elements received positive grades of execution.

As for the experience at the Challenge Skate, Melnyk, and all of the competitors, are here to learn as well as compete.

"I like this competition. I'm really comfortable here and having a good time," he said. "I've learned a lot about how the senior skaters do their jumps, their technique and how they present themselves. It's definitely a great experience."

Harrison Wong is in second place with 34.78 points, and Sam Anderson is in third with 28.70.

Anderson, who celebrated his 13th birthday Friday, will compete as an intermediate through the U.S. qualifying season, including at the 2013 U.S. Championships in January.

However, when he received the invitation to come to Salt Lake City, he and coach Eddie Shipstad, along with choreographer Catarina Lindgren, developed two novice programs in a 10-day span.

"I decided to come here and do however I do. It's all about being here and learning," Anderson said. "It's not to me about winning or getting a certain number of points; I just want the knowledge of how an international competition works, and I'm having a good time doing that."