Ice Network

TCC tidbits: Broken boot can't slow down Ten

Gold satisfied with skate; Brown just happy to be back competing
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Denis Ten managed to skate a stellar short program despite his left boot breaking just minutes before he took the ice Friday night. -Getty Images

SPOKANE, Wash. -- As a member of Team Asia -- Friday night's singles short program champion at the 2016 KOSÉ Team Challenge Cup -- Denis Ten collected a tidy $10,000.

And part of it can go to new skates.

The veteran Kazakhstani skater didn't win the men's individual bonus at the first session of the inaugural event; that went to teammate Shoma Uno of Japan, who electrified the Spokane Arena audience by landing the first quadruple flip in skating history. But if nothing else, Ten should have received the MacGyver Award.

Minutes before he was supposed to skate in the evening's first group, Ten suffered a broken left skate boot. He did an impromptu repair with some clear packing tape, and then promptly went out and skated a solid program that earned him 92.53 points, the third-best score of the night.

"I couldn't do the warmup and I wasn't quite sure that I felt the right balance in my left foot," Ten said. "I just tried to stay focused. This is my last event this year and I was afraid I couldn't perform the short program well and be a little bit more emotional and get the audience with me."

The emergency might have added a little adrenaline to the performance, but Ten could have done without it.

"It was quite an interesting experience," he said. "I'm used to critical situations, but I'm not a fan of those. I had similar issues in 2014, when almost every time I had something to fight with, and this time again. But this is something I will tell to my grandchild."

More Gracie, under pressure

Gracie Gold's struggles continued in Spokane, though she certainly tried to put the best spin on it.

The two-time U.S. champion, whose fall in the free skate at the World Figure Skating Championships in Boston three weeks ago kept her off the medal podium, was the first woman up Friday night -- and hit a bump almost immediately.

A tentative entry into her triple lutz-triple toe loop turned it into a double-triple, and her 71.34-point score left her behind both world champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia and Japan's Satoko Miyahara.

"I'm still real happy with how I skated," Gold insisted. "If you look at the slo-mo video they replayed, the first revolution of the double I had one arm above my head, and then I actually switched the other arm. So I actually did a double-feature double lutz there.

"If this was a regular competition, those are the kind of things that would save you, and the things I'm getting much better at -- being able to adapt and adjust and think on my feet and not let things get to me as much," Gold continued. "Posting a 71 or a 72 at any other competition, you're still in the game. You could be ahead of the game, depending on the competition."

The kiss, cry and camp-it-up

The seating boxes for each team are side by side at the west end of Spokane Arena, right above the kiss-and-cry benches. And the teams are getting into it, adding various wacky hats, eyewear and pompoms to the proceedings.

But mostly, they're rooting -- loudly. And for the skaters on the ice, it's a delight.

"It's a lot of fun," U.S. champion Adam Rippon said. "In the middle of my program, I can look over to my teammates and they're cheering me on. I felt a lot of love and I'm ready to give it back to the teammates who have yet to skate."

And as some of the athletes predicted, the more relaxed atmosphere led to a number of personal-best scores. One of those belonged to Ashley Wagner, who earned 74.54 points as the night's next-to-last competitor.

"Nerves for events like this kind of hit you at times you totally don't expect them to," she said. "I was center ice in the beginning position when I realized I was at a competition. I think that definitely helped keep me nice and relaxed."

But then, she was laughing from the start. As the teams were introduced before the event, the rink announcer initially forgot to include her -- so Wagner jumped up and waved her arms as team captain Kristi Yamaguchi was introduced instead.

Brown's back

Jason Brown certainly didn't have his cleanest skate Friday night, putting his hand down on a triple axel and losing some points on his last spin.

But after missing nearly six months of the season to a back injury -- and the U.S. and world championships in the process -- he couldn't have been happier with his comeback effort.

"It was really my first time in an arena since Skate America," said Brown, who finished with 87.72 points. "That was a personal-best score for me, so to keep moving up from here would be amazing."