Ice Network

In every sense of the word, Samohin emulates Chan

Krasnozhon pursues quad loop; Update on Torgashev's medical condition
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Daniel Samohin, who won the senior men's event with 188.77 points, with his father and coach, Igor Samohin, and fellow coach Igor Pashkevitch (right). -Klaus-Reinhold Kany

Wherever Daniel Samohin goes -- including Aston, Pennsylvania, where he won the Philadelphia Summer International on Saturday -- he hears one thing: "Hey, do your Patrick Chan!"

The 17-year-old skater's imitation of Canada's three-time world champion began a few years ago, while he and his parents were watching a televised event that showed a triumphant, yet humble, Chan acknowledge an adoring crowd.

"He was smiling and waving," Samohin said. "I said, 'I want to be like him someday.' My dad said, 'Yeah, right, hopefully you get there.' And I said, 'No, I can do that.' And I did."

Egged on by Russians Adian Pitkeev and Alexander Petrov at the 2014 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, Samohin gave a repeat performance.

"We were in a room, and I said, 'You guys know I can imitate Patrick Chan,'" he said. "They said no, I couldn't, but I did it, and they said, 'Wow, you look just like him!'"

The imitation hit Instagram, and a legend was born. (Watch the clips here and here.) Now everyone wants to see it, and the gregarious Samohin is happy to oblige.

"I'm always messing around and having fun, because that's what it's all about," he said. "You can compete with people, and you can all still be friends."

Samohin has Chan's wave and bow down pat, and in Aston, he showed he's also adept with the Canadian great's most reliable technical weapon, the quadruple toe loop. His big goal, though, was to do Chan one better: open his free skate with two quads -- toe and salchow -- and rotate a second quad toe in the latter half of the program, which his mother, Irina Samohina, choreographed to the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack.

He missed the mark, but just by a hair. Samohin earned nearly 34 points in the program's opening minute, landing two near-perfect quads as well as a solid triple axel. He made a game try at a second quad toe but under-rotated it and fell. He also went down on a triple lutz and his closing step sequence. Still, he earned 125.36 points to climb from third place after the short and win the title with 188.77 points overall.

Aston marked the first time Samohin landed the quad salchow in competition.

"That's a new program; we just finished it last week," said Igor Samohin, the skater's father and coach. "We started (competing) a little bit early this year to check if it's possible to do three quads in a program. Third one, he did maybe a quarter cheat and fell, but it was interesting to see if he would go for it. It looks like he can do it this year. We will see."

Samohin, who placed 10th at the 2015 European Figure Skating Championships, hopes for a breakout 2015-16 campaign. He will compete in the Grand Prix Series for the first time, at Cup of China. Perfecting his programs in Aston, and at the Glacier Falls Summer Classic in Anaheim, California, in two weeks, is the first step.

"I like to take risks, because I skate for Israel," he said. "I'm glad to show people (that) you can skate for a small country, do your work, and you're going to make it. It's fun for me to try a third quad and show people that we can do it, that Israel is strong."

Samohin and Alexei Bychenko, who placed fourth in Europe last season and won the short program in Aston before withdrawing from the free skate, give Israel a potent one-two punch. At least one high-ranking U.S. official on hand in Aston regretted that Samohin, the 2010 U.S. juvenile champion, wasn't wearing a Team USA jacket.

"We talked with the Israeli federation, because Danny was born in Israel (in Tel Aviv) and my older son (Stas) represented Israel, and they said they wanted support," said the Moscow-born Igor, who worked as Israel's national figure skating coach in the 1990s. "Probably, Danny will have more options to go to big international competitions, because Israel doesn't have as many skaters as the USA does. I so love the USA, (but) I looked only to the sportsman side."

The elder Samohin, who immigrated with his family to California in 2001, now trains Daniel in Ontario, California, after stints in Van Nuys and Lake Arrowhead. The skater also spends time in West Palm Beach, Florida, working under Igor Pashkevich, a close family friend whom he regards as an uncle.

"We're doing this as a family, and I love that," Daniel said. "People ask me if it's hard to be coached by my parents. It used to be, when I was younger. Now I'm a bit more professional and I know they're doing everything they can to help me."

At Glacier Falls, Samohin is slated to compete against another of his idols, Jason Brown. Is he working up an imitation of the ebullient U.S. champion?

"Oh, I'll have to do that," he said. "I've known him for a long time. I used to train in Lake Arrowhead when he came there. I'm going to have to work up that one."

Krasnozhon has high ambitions

As a youngster training in Alexei Mishin's school in St. Petersburg, Aleksei Krasnozhon hit his first triple axel at age 11. This summer, he is training the quad loop, an element that has never been landed in international competition.

But the determined 15-year-old wants it known: He's more than simply a jumper.

"Last year, people were cheering because I was doing jump, jump, jump," he said. "Then all of a sudden, the jumps are over, and people stop cheering because it's getting really boring. This year, I want people to watch me to the end -- not just the jumps, but skating skills, spins, footwork."

Krasnozhon, fourth in the U.S. last season as a junior, showed off improved style and spins in his short, choreographed by Scott Brown to Michael Jackson's "Jam," and his free, an homage to the 1988 "Battle of the Brians" that was also created by Brown and features music from Carmine Coppola's Napoleon and Shostakovitch's The Bolt. He won both segments of the competition, taking the junior title with 179.67 points.

"We worked a lot on skating skills, a lot on spinning, a lot on presentation -- pointing the toes, standing up straight," said Darlene Cain, who with her husband, Peter, coaches Krasnozhon in Euless, Texas. "So many things, and he's done them all. We just keep on improving."

The skater eagerly nodded in agreement.

"I got a Level 4 on my camel spin (in the short) for the first time in my life," he said. "I'm happy to see improvement in the levels. It's not like it's almost there -- it is there."

What was "almost there" was the quad loop. The teen hit one in the six-minute warmup for the free skate but slipped off his take-off edge and missed the jump in his program. He landed two triple axels and three other clean triples in his free skate, and gained Level 3's on his steps and spins.

"My goal is to make the Junior Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, and I definitely want to do [the quad loop] there," Krasnozhon said. "I'm hoping at U.S. nationals I get to do three quads. I really want to improve this year. I want to bring in a new wave of figure skating."

Peter Cain confirmed that Krasnozhon, who was recently released by the Russian skating federation, will compete in Junior Grand Prix events this season.

"He has an early assignment, and the quad loop will be in the program," Peter said. "We've been training it since he got back from Broadmoor (Colorado Springs) and did it in the Freezer Aerial (jump) competition. He's been landing it quite nicely."

On the mend: U.S. junior champion Andrew Torgashev had hoped to compete in Aston, but he fractured his right ankle on June 10th while training a quad toe loop. He underwent surgery with a prominent orthopedic surgeon in Miami and hopes to get back on the ice later this summer.

"The doctor said he has never seen an ankle heal so fast," said Artem Torgashev, Andrew's father and coach. "He is very optimistic, and so is Andrew."