• Jason Brown didn’t expect to be Sochi bound

    USA Today – January 18, 2014

    The scoring system mandated in international figure skating since 2006 is loaded with calculations based on precise numerical values for specific jumps, spins and steps. With his ponytail flying, 19-year-old Jason Brown is proof that skating artistry, connection to the music and showmanship still count, too.

    Brown, from Highland Park., Ill., demonstrated that when he became a crowd favorite at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston, where his silver medal helped him earn a spot at the Sochi Olympics.

    In Boston, Brown talked more about connecting with the fans who cheered and clapped along in unison as he skated than he did about the judges.

    “It was the most unbelievable audience it could have been, and I felt so supported out there. I went out there and performed for them,” he said after his short program.

    But the judges connected with him just as the crowd did.

    Continue reading at usatoday.com

  • Notes: Disappointed Mirai Nagasu does not file appeal

    The Boston Globe – January 13, 2014

    Mirai Nagasu, who reportedly was considering appealing the decision to leave her off the Olympic figure skating team despite her finishing third at the US championships, decided on Sunday evening to accept it.

    “I’m disappointed in the decision,” said the former champion, who was bypassed for two-time titlist Ashley Wagner, who placed fourth. “Though I may not agree with it, I have to respect the decision the federation made. And I’m grateful to everyone who has supported me and look forward to what comes next in my skating career.”

    The next thing won’t be the March world championships in Japan, where Nagasu’s parents were born. The Olympic team of Gracie GoldPolina Edmunds, and Wagner will compete there. It was unclear whether Nagasu was bypassed a second time or whether she refused the assignment, which often is given as a consolation prize to skaters who didn’t make the Olympic team. That was the case both for Max Aaron, who finished third in the men’s event and the pair of Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, who also were third.

    Jeremy Abbott, who won his fourth men’s crown, pairs titlists Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir and the Olympic dance trio of Meryl DavisCharlie WhiteMadison ChockEvan Bates, and Maia and Alex Shibutani form the rest of the world team.

    Continue reading at bostonglobe.com

  • Jeremy Abbott wins fourth men’s national title

    The Boston Globe – January 13, 2014

    Jeremy Abbott was almost disqualified from the men’s US Figure Skating Championship for not being set in place as his warm-up minute expired. Luckily the crowd at TD Garden was there to count out the final 10 seconds for him and give the three-time national champion the chance to win one more.

    The 2010 Vancouver Olympian ended the short program in first place after gaining a record 99.86 points Sunday. He skated a strong free program as well, ending with a record 274.27 total points to capture his fourth US Championship.

    “I was really happy [with my performance],” he said. “I did the quad in both programs, [which was a] huge thing for me, huge hurdle to get over. It wasn’t a perfect skate, but God, I enjoyed every minute of it. I always enjoy this completion more than anything and it’s always magic and I always feel it. I’m going to be sad not to be back on that ice next year.”

    Silver medalist Jason Brown, the young star who took third in the short program with 87.47, was perfect on his free skate performance, wowing the crowd and dazzling his way to a final score of 270.08, the third highest total in the event’s history.

    Continue reading at bostonglobe.com

  • Polina Edmunds Could Be Sochi Surprise

    Team USA – January 16, 2014

    Polina Edmunds was just 20 months old when she first put on a pair of ice skates.

    It was the first step she made in her journey to the Olympic Winter Games, which will be achieved next month in Russia, fittingly where her mother, Nina, got her start in skating.

    The two will be at the Winter Games together since Nina is one of Polina’s coaches. And it will be quite a homecoming for the Edmunds family when Polina competes in Sochi. Polina, now 15, was the surprise silver medalist at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships this past week in Boston, which helped her earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

    “My mom’s brother and her uncle live in Tver,” said Polina of the Russian town located about 100 miles northwest of Moscow where Nina also grew up. “I’m sure they are very excited. They’re probably contacting my mom right now.”

    Continue reading at teamusa.org

  • US skating choices for Olympics a bit slippery

    Boston Globe – January 14, 2014

    With all of the selectors’ emphasis on the candidates’ “body of work,” is the United States sending its best figure skating team to the Olympics in terms of medal chances?

    In dance, undoubtedly. In the women’s event, probably. In men’s and pairs, likely not.

    Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the reigning global champs, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and Maia and Alex Shibutani clearly are the country’s top three dance couples. Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds are obviously the top two women in terms of the rigor of their programs. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir are two-time pairs champs. And Jeremy Abbott, who won his fourth men’s national crown, couldn’t be denied. The questions involve the second man, third woman, and second pair.

    While Jason Brown has a charming and creative long program, he doesn’t have a quadruple jump.

    “Most guys in the top eight have two,” observed Elvis Stojko, the two-time Olympic medalist who was here for the US championships at TD Garden. “If you don’t attempt one, are you going to crack the top 10?”

    Max Aaron, who finished third after winning last year, has the most difficult free skate, including a quadruple salchow-triple toe combination plus a solo quad sal, and it’s crammed with bonus-point triples in the second half.

    “That is incredibly difficult,” said Stojko.

    When the judges hung Aaron with hockey-player scores for choreography and interpretation, they kept him off the team, but he’s the only Yank with enough game to sky with Canadian world champ Patrick Chan and the Japanese.

    Continue reading at bostonglobe.com

  • Jeremy Abbott shows some fight at U.S. championships

    USA Today – January 14, 2014

    Ricky Dornbush rocked the house with a record-breaking score early. But three-time national champion Jeremy Abbott regained his own magic — and took back that record — to win the men’s short program Friday night at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

    The competition is on for the 2014 U.S. title and the two men’s berths for the USA in the Sochi Olympics.

    “That was fun. That was just fun,” said Abbott, 28, of Aspen, Colo., who is making a run for his second Olympics in his final competitive season.

    “This is a night I’m never going to forget. That’s pretty fantastic. I heard some people behind me chanting 100. (His actual score of) 99.86 is pretty darn close. I’m pretty happy. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.”

    Dornbush, 22, of Corona, Calif., skated second in the first group at TD Garden. His score of 92.04 was a record (for a while) for the men’s short program at nationals. The previous mark of 90.23 was set in 2012 by Abbott en route to his third title.

    Skating to Sons of Italy by Henry Mancini, Dornbush opened with a lightly landed quadruple salchow. He also landed a triple axel and a triple lutz-triple toe loop combo.

    Continue reading at usatoday.com


    U.S. Figure Skating – January 14, 2014

    U.S. Figure Skating announced today the athletes who will compete at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games as part of the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team. All U.S. Olympic Team nominations are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

    The ladies singles team is Gracie Gold, who won her first U.S. title Saturday at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships; Polina Edmunds, the 2014 U.S. silver medalist; and Ashley Wagner, 2012 and ’13 U.S. champion. Jeremy Abbott, who won his fourth U.S. title Saturday at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and Jason Brown, the newly crowned U.S. silver medalist, will compete in men’s singles. The pairs teams are two-time reigning U.S. champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, and Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay, 2014 U.S. silver medalists. Representing Team USA in ice dance are six-time U.S. champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White; two-time reigning U.S. silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates; and two-time reigning U.S. bronze medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani.

    U.S. Figure Skating also confirmed that each member of the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team is eligible to compete in the inaugural Olympic team event. U.S. Figure Skating will work with athletes and their coaches to determine if the athlete will participate in the team event. Per ISU rules, the figure skating team event short program/dance entries must be received by 10 a.m. Sochi time on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Each team will have 10 minutes after the short program to submit free skate entries.

    Continue reading at usfigureskating.org

  • Drama On And Off The Ice

    Team USA – January 14, 2014

    There was plenty of drama surrounding the women’s competition at the Prudential 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston last Saturday — not all of it on the ice.

    Gracie Gold, an 18-year-old who trains in Southern California, however, was only the woman among the top finishers who has stayed away from the controversy, easily earning her spot on the U.S. Olympic Team that will compete next month in Sochi.

    Gold won her first U.S. crown with a commanding free skate that opened with a spectacular triple-triple

    jump combination, mixed in difficult spins and steps and even featured some fist pumping. Gold, who had already built a solid lead after the short program, finished nearly 20 points ahead of the field.

    “It was kind of unreal,” she said. “I was in my step sequence and I was like, ‘Did I just nail the first three jumps of my long program?’ It was like a fairytale.”

    Gold was one of the few women in the field who could sleep relatively at the end of the free skate. Even though the national champion was not guaranteed a spot in Sochi, her title, along with her international experience, combined with her silver medal last year, made her selection to the U.S. Olympic Team fairly simple.

    Continue reading at teamusa.org

  • Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir repeat as pairs champions

    Boston.com – January 12, 2014

    gettyimages-castellishnapirLocal skating pair Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir continued their recent dominance, taking home their second straight figure skating pairs title and all but clinched a spot on the US Olympic team.

    Castelli, a native of Cranston, R.I., and Shnapir, who hails from Sudbury, took the lead after a 73.13 score in the short program. They had one issue in the free skate, but still put on an impressive program, netting 132.58 points and 205.71 total points, breaking the US Championships record set minutes earlier by Caydee Denney and John Coughlin.

    “The [home] support was enormous and I loved the energy from the beginning to the end,” Shnapir said. “It wasn’t our best; we made a few mistakes. We’re happy with what we put out; we performed the heck out of that program. We’re thrilled with the end result.”

    The nominees for the 2014 Olympic team will be announced by the Olympic committee Sunday afternoon.

    Continue reading at boston.com

  • Alex Shaughnessy, Jimmy Morgan learn a lot


    The Boston Globe – January 12, 2014

    Morgan and ShaughnessyAlex Shaughnessy and Jimmy Morgan tried to steal a private moment before their free skate Saturday at the US Figure Skating Championships. But when the Boston-based pair embraced near the boards and whispered a few words to each other, the hometown crowd at TD Garden let out a soft, but audible “awwww.” In that moment, Morgan told Shaughnessy, “It’s just you and me out there. We’ve got this. Let’s do it like we do in practice.”

    While the pair tried to pretend the performance would be like any other runthrough at the Skating Club of Boston, it was clear from the start that it was not. The audience had a strong rooting interest, cheering wildly with every well-executed element and groaning when both skaters fell on early side-by-side triple salchows. Still, despite some unfortunate errors in a romantic routine performed to music from the French film “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” Shaughnessy and Morgan were delighted with their debut performances at senior nationals.

    “We had a couple of mistakes, but it’s all a learning experience,” said Shaughnessy, 21, who grew up in Duxbury. “And we’ve learned so much this week. This is definitely our first step out on senior championship ice. We just wanted to make a splash. We wanted to tell everyone, ‘We’re here. We’re going to be here. So, pay attention.’ ”

    Added Morgan: “There’s a lot to take away from this competition going into next year and the years after that.”

    Continue reading at bostonglobe.com