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'Untouchable' Krentz wins junior men's gold

Ma takes silver despite missing spin; Belmontes moves up to claim bronze

Chicagoan Brian Krentz won the gold over Jimmy Ma by 3.08 points.
Chicagoan Brian Krentz won the gold over Jimmy Ma by 3.08 points. (Jay Adeff)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(09/15/2012) - No one could touch Brian Krentz in Salt Lake City on Saturday.

The 17-year-old from Chicago, who led after the short program, hit seven triple jumps, including two Lutzes, in his free skate to Ennio Morricone's Untouchables soundtrack.

A Level 4 sit spin combination and nifty closing flying sit added to his score, and he racked up 98.90 points. Overall, Krentz earned 148.68 to take home gold by more than three points.

"It went very well," said Krentz, who is coached by Cindy Caprel. "Landing all seven jumps passes was very good, a couple of bobbles, but I was very happy with that. I was also happy about where my spins and footwork were, for this point in the season. I put what I had out there, and I was rewarded for it."

Krentz's choreographer, Phillip Mills, is working with Caprel to help the teen, who placed sixth in novice at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, be more expressive on the ice.

"We are trying to make him look a little more sophisticated, more of a senior man than a junior man," Mills said. "In past programs, he has been more rigid, and we're trying to soften him up a bit, so he looks a bit more fluid."

"Free movement has been one of my challenges, so my programs this season really require me to skate differently than I have in the past and challenge me choreographically," Krentz said. "It's been great fun and a learning experience, and Phillip has taught me a lot."

New Yorker Jimmy Ma took silver with a steady, well-paced program to a dramatic medley including Two Steps from Hell's "Heart of Courage" that earned 97.54 points.

The 16-year-old, who is coached by 1982 world champion Elaine Zayak and Steven Rice, hit five triple jumps, including two Lutzes, but lost points when he failed to complete one of his combination spins.

"Jump-wise, it was pretty solid, [but] I was so focused on doing the jumps, maybe I forgot what I was supposed to do in between," Ma said. "The spins, I think I can do better on those with more practice.

"My choreographer, Josh Babb, put together a very powerful medley, and I've got to skate up to that kind of power."

Chase Belmontes climbed from fifth after the short to win the bronze medal with 124.84 points.

After popping his two opening double Axels into singles, Belmontes landed a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, the only clean triple-triple of the free skate event. He also landed a three-jump triple flip combination and gained Level 4 for two of his spins.

"I was disappointed in the way I did my short program, but I learned from my mistakes and applied them to my long program, so thankfully I moved up," Belmontes said.

"I started a little shaky, and then I got myself together and motivated myself to do every other jump, and I just fought for every point I could."

This week, juniors and novices competing in the 2012 U.S. Challenge Skate are sharing the stage -- and international judging and technical panels -- with seniors taking part in the first-ever international senior "B" event in North America, the 2012 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic.

"It's been a truly great experience," Krentz said. "There's nothing like it, skating for such a diverse panel of such well-qualified people. These are the [officials] you will see later on skating at international events."

"With the senior 'B' going on, it's really cool to see what the senior men are doing, see how they practice, see how they jump, see how they do their programs," Ma said.