Ice Network

Eighth time's the charm for men's champ Shipley

Espinosa rides solid axel to victory in championship adult silver ladies
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In his eighth time competing at the U.S. Adult Championships, Christopher Shipley won the championship adult silver men's gold medal. -Jay Adeff

Christopher Shipley (Independent member) has been here before. In truth, seven times before.

Strong and calm during his warmup, Shipley was the first skater in the championship adult silver men's group to take the ice Saturday at the 2017 U.S. Adult Championships in Wake Forest, North Carolina. And when it ended, he was still first.

Shipley's clean program to Lawrence of Arabia earned a 5/2 majority score from seven judges to earn the gold medal, a big jump from last season's fifth-place finish.

"I did what I wanted to do and I was thrilled with that -- then I got to watch everyone else," Shipley said with a relaxed smile. "I was really happy with the way I skated today."

All of Shipley's jumps were solid, but his final jump, a lutz, showed a crisp landing that seemed to linger until the applause dimmed.

The true entertainer of the nine-man group was Thomas Harrison (Bay County FSC), who received a 4/2 majority for the silver medal. Skating to "Feeling Good" by Michael Bublé, Harrison expressively played for both the crowd and the judges. He overcame an early error -- a missed loop in his combination -- but recovered to skate the rest of the program clean.

"This is the best I've ever skated," said Harrison, who is coming off a back injury.

Skating to "Salsation" from Saturday Night Fever, Mark Adams (Washington FSC) brought the heat. His energetic performance was rewarded with a 4/3 majority, good for the bronze medal. Adams, whose playful footwork seemed to hit every salsa-disco beat, also nailed all of his jumps, most notably a lutz-loop combination.

Championship Adult Silver Ladies

Jennifer Espinosa (Florida SunCoast FSC) brought her "A" game to Wake Forest -- "A" for axel, that is.

Skating to the violin concerto "Dark Eyes" in a dazzling fuchsia dress, Espinosa turned heads with her powerful jumps, highlighted by a soaring axel, and earned a 4/1 majority score to win the gold medal.

"I've always liked the axel," said Espinosa, who started landing the jump in high school. "I've always liked taking off the front on the axel.

"I thought, overall, I did as well as I could today, and the other ladies really upped their games from sectionals."

It is Espinosa's second championship medal this year, as she and Team Delaware won the masters bronze at the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships.

Clara Christensen (Independent member) earned the silver medal with a 5/3 majority, while Haley Jensen (Norwich FSC) took the bronze with a 5/4 majority.

All three medalists were competing in their first U.S. Adult Championships.