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U.S. men pull off unprecedented sweep in Milan

Farris, Brown, Omori finish 1-2-3, give U.S. first men's medal sweep at junior worlds

(L-R): Jason Brown, Joshua Farris and Shotaro Omori combined for the first men's medal sweep by any country at the world junior championships.
(L-R): Jason Brown, Joshua Farris and Shotaro Omori combined for the first men's medal sweep by any country at the world junior championships. (Klaus-Reinhold Kany)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(03/02/2013) - Rising star Joshua Farris led a U.S. sweep of the men's medals Saturday at the 2013 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Milan, holding off surging teammate Jason Brown to win the world junior title. Shotaro Omori took bronze.

It was the first time since the World Junior Figure Skating Championships began in 1976 that a country swept the men's podium.

Farris, who led after the short program, opened his free to Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2" with a superb triple Axel-triple toe loop combination, and then fell on the landing of a fully rotated quad toe. Still, the move was worth 7.3 points, less the one-point deduction for the fall.

That was his only mistake, as he hit six more triple jumps, including a second triple Axel. His three spins all gained Level 4, and his individual style -- with strong strokes covering the entire ice surface -- helped him earn program component scores averaging 7.1.

He placed second in the free with 152.48 and won gold with 228.32 points.

"I'm very happy with how I skated," Farris, 18, said. "I knew it was my last junior competition, and I was like, 'I'm going to enjoy it and skate my heart out.' The fall on the quad kind of ruined the clean skate I was hoping for."

Armed with the world junior title, Farris -- who placed fourth at the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January -- will tackle the senior Grand Prix Series in the fall.

"I'm looking forward to next year and moving up to senior and competing against the guys I've looked up to ever since I was little," he said.

The skater, who trains under Damon Allen and Christy Krall in Colorado Springs, has Olympic aspirations, but, as he explained, they may be deferred.

"I would love to go to the 2014 Olympics, but there are so many more mature skaters at U.S. nationals," he said. "I think our more reasonable goal is 2018. We could make it in 2014, but I'm not expecting it.

"I think [this result] sends a strong message that there are a lot of good, young U.S. guys coming up through the ranks. It's not just the three of us; there are many more U.S. skaters who are very good."

Brown skated a career-best program to "Liebestraum" to defeat Farris by 1.61 points in the free skate, but he could not overcome Farris' near six-point lead after the short. He won silver with 224.15 points.

The Illinois native, who struggled to add the triple Axel to his repertoire, has the jump well in hand now, landing two here, the first in combination with a double toe. He also landed two triple Lutzes in the second half of his program, one in combination with a triple toe loop, as well as four more triples. All were done with ease.

Apart from the jumps, Brown's spins, all of which gained Level 4, were excellent, and his elegant step sequence earned a rare Level 4 from the technical panel.

"It has been such a journey from last year to this year to add a new jump, the triple Axel, that I've been working on for so long and so hard, day in and day out," Brown said. "To be able to come here to junior worlds and do three of them, for me, that was like winning."

Like Farris, Brown showed an individual style, with arm movements as elegant as those of a ballet dancer. His choreography, done mainly by Rohene Ward -- who is performing with Holiday on Ice throughout Europe -- is unique and engaging, and his transitions are first class. His program components, as a result, ranged as high as 8.0.

"I love to push the limits on transitions into jumps," Brown said. "When I go into a jump, I'm thinking of each transition; I'm not just getting ready to set up. It's more, make sure to hold this, make sure the Choctaw is good, and then the jumps happen."

Brown, who skated last, could not stop smiling about the U.S. sweep.

"I was so happy for Josh," he said. "I didn't exactly see his skate, but the [crowd] reaction was amazing, and I was so proud of him. I knew that Shotaro was in second, and I was just really excited that we had a chance to be the top three."

Farris' and Brown's medals could be called expected, because they won silver and bronze, respectively, last season. But Omori, who placed fourth at his two Junior Grand Prix events in the fall, was more of a surprise.

The student of Tammy Gambill who trains in Riverside, Calif., hit six clean triple jumps in his free to Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," including his first triple Axel. He stepped out of his second Axel, and his triple loop was a bit shaky, but everything else was solid, and he finished with 204.34 points.

"I definitely feel very happy. I was really nervous before my long program today," Omori said. "My coach kept telling me to stay calm and focused."

"To be able to get a medal my first time here at junior worlds and to be part of this historic moment with Josh and Jason is such an honor," he continued.

China's Boyang Jin was the only man besides Farris who tried a quad, and he landed it successfully. He added eight triple jumps and placed fourth with 192.58 points.

Michael Christian Martinez of the Philippines, who trains in California under John Nicks and Olympic gold medalist Ilia Kulik, was fifth with 191.64 points. Michael Kolyada of Russia was the highest-placing European skater, finishing sixth with 189.94 points.