U.S. men sweep aside rivals in short program
Farris takes five-point lead; Omori, Brown separated by less than a point
|The U.S. men in Milan -- left to right, Shotaro Omori, Joshua Farris and Jason Brown -- dominated the short program. (Klaus-Reinhold Kany)|
The 18-year-old Farris, who won world junior silver last season, hit a strong triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe combination in his short to cello music from Yo-Yo Ma. Although he landed his triple flip a bit forward, he fought for the jump and did not put a hand down.
"Basically, after the warm-up, my coach, Damon Allen, told me 'Rely on your training,'" said Farris, who trains in Colorado Springs under Allen and Christy Krall. "I've done numerous clean short programs. I just let my muscle memory take over, and that's kind of how I recovered from that warm-up."
In addition to solid jumps, Farris showed three strong Level 4 spins, as well as a rare Level 4 step sequence that six judges rewarded with +2 grades of execution (GOEs). He skated with elegance and flow, covering the entire ice surface, and projected well to the audience and judges.
"I felt good about my overall skate," Farris said, and then added that he planned to include a quadruple toe loop in his free skate.
"I kind of go on how I feel that day," he said. "Right now, I'm planning on putting everything in there. I've been training clean programs with [the quad]. So, I mean, there is not really a question why I would take it out."
Farris, who placed fourth at the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, hopes to compete on the senior Grand Prix circuit next season.
"If I get selected, I'm definitely going senior," he said.
Farris led an American charge, with teammate Shotaro Omori, who trains under Tammy Gambill in Riverside, Calif., taking second place with 70.82 points. It was a strong showing from the 17-year-old, who placed fourth at both of his Junior Grand Prix events last fall.
Omori performed the same jumps as Farris, landing a solid triple Axel and executing a fine camel spin at the end of his tango program. His program components averaged around 6.2 points.
"I feel honored to be in the top three with my teammates," said Omori, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Japan. "I think Josh and Jason [Brown] are definitely skaters I look up to. It's an honor to compete for the U.S.
"I felt really good talking to my coach Tammy Gambill before the competition. She just wanted me to relax and really focus on what I had to do to complete each element, and that went well."
Brown, who won the world junior bronze last season, opened his short with a good triple Axel, a jump he has really stabilized in the last few months. The ponytailed 18-year-old made a three-turn after the triple Lutz in his intended triple-triple combination and could only add a shaky double toe loop.
The rest of Brown's program was very good, including his excellent spins and the step sequence for which one judge awarded a +3 GOE. His interpretation of Prince's well-known "The Question of U," especially his rhythmic body movements, was excellent, and his program components averaged 6.7 points.
"I felt good going into the Lutz, and maybe I thought I was too close to the boards," Brown said. "I don't really know what happened. After that, I tried to move on and just look forward and make everything else as good as it could be."
Brown, who hails from the Chicago area and trains under Kori Ade, spoke about conquering the triple Axel.
"I was very excited about the opening of the program and the Axel," he said. "That was a big relief and a big burden off my chest to come here and land the triple Axel. It was really exciting, and I look forward to doing two more in the long."
Brown said he and Ade had added difficulty to his free skate since the 2013 U.S. Championships, where he placed eighth. Although he would like to compete on the senior Grand Prix next season, he added that if U.S. Figure Skating prefers it, "Another year in juniors would be fine. I think we have a really deep field in the U.S. right now. It's been really competitive just to make it on to the junior world team. To have an American sweep in the short is absolutely amazing. We hope we can stay this way for the long."
Michael Christian Martinez of the Philippines, who trains in California under Ilia Kulik and John Nicks, sits fourth with 67.01 points. Promising 14-year-old Russian Alexander Samarin, who did not execute a triple Axel, is fifth with 63.07 points. China's Boyang Jin is sixth with 62.82 points.