Ice Network

Krasnozhon overcomes falls, wins junior men's title

Pulkinen makes big improvement, nabs silver; Dunk moves up for bronze
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Sitting more than 6.5 points out of first entering the day, Alex Krasnozhon laid down a monster free skate, one that contained seven clean triples, including two triple axels. With a segment score of 144.16, the Texas-based skater won the segment by almost 20 points and took the title with an overall mark of 211.05. -Jay Adeff

In second place after the short program, Alex Krasnozhon knew he had some work to do.

The skater, who won pewter in this event in 2015 and the bronze last season, found himself 6.52 points out of first entering the day. And while his free skate performance Friday at the 2017 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships wasn't perfect -- he fell on his opening quadruple loop as well as a double axel-triple loop combination -- it was more than good enough to make up the difference and earn the 16-year-old Texan the U.S. junior title.

"Last year was really difficult for me because I really came expecting to win," Krasnozhon said. "Then, all of a sudden, I fell twice in my short program and it was all over. I came back strong in the free skate, but it wasn't enough. Since then, I've realized how to calm my nerves. I had a strong season, and I went to the Junior Grand Prix Final. I learned that nationals is one competition, and it was time to win."

Despite the two aforementioned falls, Krasnozhon won the segment by nearly 20 points. In his free skate set to "Rodeo - Four Dance Episodes: III," the brash teen landed seven triple jumps, including two triple axels, one in combination with a triple toe loop. His technical elements score (78.88) trumped the field by more than 10 points, lifting him to a segment score of 144.16 and an overall total of 211.05 -- both personal bests.

Camden Pulkinen finished second with a total score of 197.65. Although the silver represents a one-spot drop from his short program placement, the result is a marked improvement from his 11th-place finish at the 2016 U.S. Championships.

"To go from 11th to second is a big accomplishment for me," Pulkinen said. "But more than that, placements aside, I'm so happy with how much my skating has improved. I learned triple axel, and I learned how to do triple-triple combinations. Now I'm excited to use this year as a springboard and start working on quads."

Like Krasnozhon, Pulkinen suffered two falls during his "Sarabande Suite" free skate, but he turned in an otherwise solid effort, hitting his opening triple axel as well as two more triples in the second half of the program. He earned 124.24 for his performance en route to 197.65 total points.

Ryan Dunk moved up from fourth to take the bronze with 172.22 points. Skating a less technically difficult but deduction-free program to music from Samson and Delilah, Dunk earned an impressive 114.44 points for his outing, which included five solid triple jumps.

"I've been working really hard on taking one element at a time," Dunk said. "When I heard the other scores before me, I knew I could move up and get the bronze if I just did my job. I went out there and I did it, so I'm very happy."

Eric Sjoberg finished fourth with 170.61 points.