Oda crowned 'King of the B's' at NebelhornBrown wins silver in senior international debut; Healthy Ten earns bronze
Nobunari Oda must consider Oberstdorf his home away from home.
The 26-year-old from Osaka won his third Nebelhorn crown in fine style, earning 175.64 points for a free skate to music from Rossini's opera William Tell. He ended the competition with 262.98 points, by far his highest tally in international competition.
Oda opened with an excellent quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination that gained many +2 Grades of Execution (GOEs) from the judges. As in the short program, he was the only skater to execute a clean quad. He added seven other clean triples, including two Axels, as well as sprightly steps and crisp spins. Judges were impressed, awarding many +3s for his elements.
"My choreographer, Lori Nichol, found this music for me, and I like it very much," Oda said. "This was a good start to my season. I have never won a competition with such a great difference to the other skaters, and with so many points.
"When I had landed the quad, I was relieved, and all the other jumps worked well, too," he continued, adding that he plans to turn the triple toe he did here into a quad later in the season.
In addition to his three Nebelhorn crowns (2008, '12, '13), Oda also won the Bavarian Open in Oberstdorf last season, making him the "King of the B's." The challenge for him is to translate into that success onto the Grand Prix circuit and at Japanese nationals, as he has not qualified for Japan's world team since 2011.
"Now I need to skate well in the Grand Prix and train harder for that," Oda said. "There are many good skaters in Japan, and they are all my rivals. My main goal, certainly, is to qualify for the Olympic Games."
Two-time world junior medalist Jason Brown of the U.S. made a strong international senior debut, winning silver with 228.43 points. His free skate earned 149.02 points.
Performing to music from Riverdance, the 18-year-old warmed up with a double Axel, followed by a good combination of triple Axel-triple toe loop. His second triple Axel was landed forward and on two feet, and was downgraded.
Brown continued with five other triples, including a sequence of triple Lutz-single loop-triple Salchow. His second triple Lutz was done 'Tano style, with one arm extended into the air, and his choreographed steps had exceptional flair, gaining several +3s from the judges.
"I am excited to compete in seniors now, and this was a very good debut," said Brown, who recently moved with his coach, Kori Ade, to Colorado. "I hope that I can keep progressing. I will keep pushing myself."
Brown reflected on his free skate, choreographed by Rohene Ward.
"I have no Irish ancestors, but I like the Irish culture and music very much, and this is why we chose Riverdance," he said.
Canadian Jeremy Ten held on to third place and the bronze medal, despite performing just the fifth-best free skate. He ended with 205.56 points.
Ten fell on his opening triple Axel but continued with six mostly good triple jumps.
"I got my nerves under control this time, and I am happy about my comeback after several years full of injuries," Ten said. "This has been a great competition for me. It built up my confidence.
"My main coach (and choreographer) Joanne McLeod found this forgotten piece of music by Andrew Lloyd Webber ("Variations"), and I listened to it for the first time in the car while I was driving home," he continued. "I liked it very much, and we decided to use it for my free."
Ten talked about his struggle to overcome several injuries, including undergoing ankle surgery in 2011.
"I feel all that is behind me," he said. "I am in the best shape of my life, and I have a whole team of people with me and a plan how to keep me healthy."
Artur Dmitriev Jr., son of the great Russian pairs skater, placed fourth with 201.74 points. His free skate was derivative of Philippe Candeloro's famous "D'Artagnan," right down to the simulated sword fight. (The showy French skater had performed it to win bronze at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games and in more than 100 shows around the world.) Dmitriev, however, lacks Candeloro's artistry, although he shares some of his jumping inconsistency.
Israeli Alexei Bychenko, who trains in Hackensack, N.J., under Craig Maurizi, ended up fifth with 197.46 points. He was the top skater in the race to qualify for an Olympic spot. Zoltan Kelemen of Romania was sixth with 194.08 points and also won a spot for Sochi.
In addition to these two, four others also earned spots in Sochi for their respective countries:
- Michael Christian Martinez, who trains in California under Ilia Kulik, John Nicks and Justin Dillon, for the Philippines
- Australian Brendan Kerry, a training partner of Ricky Dornbush in Tammy Gambill's Riverside, Calif., group
- Yakov Godorozha for Ukraine
- Italian Paul Bonifacio Parkinson, a student of Tom Zakrajsek in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Poland is first substitute. Although he placed fourth in the free skate, Luiz Manella had a poor short program and could only qualify Brazil as second substitute.