Ice Network

Samohin puts on jumping display to claim title

Tanaka rides personal-best free to silver; Miner settles for bronze
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In what was an awesome jumping exhibition, Daniel Samohin landed three quads (one in combination) and four clean triples in his 'Sherlock Holmes' free en route to a segment score of 152.15. The charismatic Israeli, who sat third after the short, finished with a personal-best 223.67 points and claimed the gold for his second international title of the season (Philadelphia Summer International). -Jay Adeff

Daniel Samohin had one goal in mind for the 2015 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic: land three quads in his free skate.

"Here, in the (4,300-foot) altitude, it's a little harder to do your elements. I wanted to understand how to pace myself to land three quads," the 17-year-old Israeli said.

It's a goal he set -- and missed -- at the Philadelphia Summer International in July. This time around, he succeeded, opening with a quad toe-double toe combination, followed by a quad salchow. He hit a second quad toe, better than the first, in the second half of his free, choreographed by his mom, Irina, to music from the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack.

Samohin hit four more triples, including two triple lutzes, and gained Level 4 on his closing step sequence. He fell on the check-out of a triple axel, and his final spin -- a camel-sit spin combination -- didn't count. Still, his 152.15-point score in the free gave him 223.67 overall and the win.

"It was great to fulfill my goal," Samohin said. "This just sets me up well for the rest of the season. I can build on this."

Samohin, who is coached by his father, Igor, in Ontario, California, is a spectacular jumper who skates with confidence and budding charisma. He admits his style, and his spins, could use some polishing.

"I want to improve my choreography, work on that, and make people participate in my programs," he said. "Some people like my skating, some people criticize it. I want to do better -- show more transitions, skating skills and edges -- at my next event."

The teen, initially assigned to Cup of China, will instead compete at the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) in Spain in a few weeks.

"I decided to compete on the JGP for Israel, because we have Alexei [Bychenko] competing on the senior Grand Prix in two events," he said. "I didn't have two events, so [the Israeli Figure Skating Federation] asked me to stay on the JGP and try to make the JGP Final."

Keiji Tanaka, the 2011 world junior silver medalist who placed eighth in Japan last season, had one of his best showings in recent years, winning the silver medal with 212.34 points.

Skating a colorful program to Verdi's La traviata, the 21-year-old turned out of the landing of an opening quad salchow but hit a triple axel and solid triple flip-triple toe as well as did five more triples in the program's second half.

"I made little mistakes; I wasn't perfect," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I did what I can do in practice, so I am happy for that."

Tanaka, who has set a goal of competing at the 2016 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, wants to gain more consistency on his quad.

"Right now, it is maybe 50-50. It needs to be much better," he said. "I didn't have enough confidence with it, until now. Now, I feel more confident than before. Last season, my results were not so good, but this medal will help me go forward."

It was a disappointing evening for Ross Miner, the three-time U.S. medalist who led after Thursday's short program. Skating to a Queen medley choreographed by Lori Nichol, the Boston-based skater made too many costly jumping mistakes, including failing to complete a triple-triple and popping an intended triple flip into a single. He placed fifth in the free and third overall with 209.93 points.

"I am very disappointed with myself; the way I skated is not indicative of the way I have been training," Miner, 24, said. "I'm a lot better than that. I need to go out and skate to win. I felt I held back, even on the choreography, and it didn't serve me well."

Miner vowed to "work his butt off" with coaches Peter Johansson and Mark Mitchell over the next four weeks leading into his next event, Skate America.

"I know it's going to be tough, but I'm ready for it," he said.

Skating to "Variations on Themes of Chopin" by Anze Rozman, Timothy Dolensky was fourth in the free and fourth overall with 209.04 points. The 23-year-old skater gained strength in the second half of the program, landing a solid triple axel-double toe as well as a triple lutz combination and triple flip. His spins were the most eye-catching of the event, and his closing "headless" scratch spin was a highlight.

Japan's world junior champion Shoma Uno finished atop the free skate standings with 154.96 points, but a disappointing short program relegated him to fifth place overall with 207.41 points.

The stylish Uno hit back-to-back quad toes at the start of his "Nessun Dorma" free, and followed with a spread eagle into a triple axel. Although he took a disruptive fall on his second triple axel, it was still by far the most complete performance of the evening.

Richard Dornbush skated a sensitive, introspective program to a Coldplay medley, highlighted by a gorgeous triple axel at the start. But the 2011 U.S. silver medalist had a bad night with his jumps, doubling several intended triples and having his second triple axel downgraded. He placed sixth with 191.02 points.

"He had been practicing well, and he really wanted to come out and prove a point," said Tammy Gambill, who coaches Dornbush in Riverside, California. "I think he overworked it, and threw himself off. Clearly, he's disappointed, but we're going to go home, re-group and get ready for Cup of China."