Ice Network

Rippon takes solid lead at International Classic

Brown falls on quad, slots into second place; Mura sits in third
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Adam Rippon picked up right where he left off last season, when he won his first U.S. championship and finished a career-best sixth at worlds. Skating a fast-paced program to the Ida Corr song "Let Me Think About It" (remixed by Fedde Le Grand), the 26-year-old earned a personal-best score for the short of 87.86 to put him comfortably in first. -Melissa Majchrzak

Team USA enjoyed a strong showing in the men's short program at the 2016 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic on Thursday as Adam Rippon and Jason Brown took the top two spots, respectively.

Rippon took the ice with the confidence of a reigning U.S. champion, earning a score of 87.86 and taking a solid 4.68-point lead heading into Friday's free skate.

"This is right where I want to be right now," Rippon said. "I wasn't doing a program with a quad, so it should be a clean performance. I want to get two nice skates under my belt here. I want to hit the quad lutz in the free, but today was all about getting my confidence up for the rest of the year."

Rippon opened his performance with a triple flip-triple toe combination before landing a solid triple axel and closing with his signature "Rippon lutz."He earned Level 4's on all three of his spins and received positive Grades of Execution (GOEs) across the board. His program to the Ida Corr song "Let Me Think About It" (remixed by Fedde Le Grand) had the crowd clapping along throughout the energetic routine.

"My goal is to not be able to hear my music by the end of my program," Rippon said. "That's how loud I want it to be. I want the audience to have as much fun as I'm having out there."

Brown turned in a heartfelt performance to Sam Smith's "Writing's on the Wall," landing a triple axel and a triple flip-triple toe combination. The 2015 U.S. champion fell on an attempted quadruple toe loop attempt to open his performance.

"That's the great thing about senior B's: They allow me to practice competing," Brown said. "I can practice the quad at home. I can practice the practice sessions and the six-minute warmup at home, but I can't compete until I'm at an event."

While he didn't land the quad Thursday, Brown still counts his outing as a success.

"Every event is a step forward," Brown said. "Today I landed my quad in the six-minute warmup, which I didn't do at Lombardia [Trophy]. Now I need to learn how to warm it up and still land it when I'm not the first skater. I need to practice warming up, taking that little break until my turn and being ready to hit it, again. I learn something every time I put it out there, and after the warmup I had today, I'm walking away so proud and excited for the steps I'm taking."

Rounding out the top three, Japan's Takahito Mura earned 82.55 points for his performance to a medley of paso doble music -- a program Mura admits was harder to perform at Salt Lake City's 4,226-ft elevation.

"The numbers are OK for a competition this early in the season," Mura said. "The jumps were good, but I was skating so slow. I needed more speed and much sharper movements to have a better performance."

Mura's program components score of 36.85 kept him 0.63 points behind Brown, despite an opening quadruple toe, triple axel and triple lutz-triple toe combination.

Team USA was also represented by Sean Rabbitt, who sits seventh with 72.75 points, and Ross Miner, who came in eighth with 71.37.