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Dornbush runs away with junior men's title

California skater triumphs by more than 33 points

Richard Dornbush had reason to celebrate after his winning free skate in Beijing.
Richard Dornbush had reason to celebrate after his winning free skate in Beijing. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus Reinhold-Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(12/11/2010) - Winning the Junior Grand Prix title in Beijing proved elementary for Richard Dornbush, who crushed the competition by more than 33 points and marked himself a medal threat at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Enacting the role of Sherlock Homes to music from Hans Zimmer's movie soundtrack, the California skater was the only highlight of a disappointing junior men's competition played out before an audience of 1,500 spectators.

Dornbush, who trains under Tammy Gambill, hardly put a foot wrong in his free, which gained 148.81 points. He hit a superb triple Axel, triple toe loop combination and, in the second half of the program, did a second triple Axel as well as two jump combinations. His grades of execution were positive across the board.

"I was thinking about my program and how well I wanted to skate it, but I never dreamed it would have turned out as well as it did," Dornbush said. "Even if you do 75 percent clean programs in practice, being able to do it in competition is something entirely different.

"I was a little bit nervous today beforehand, but as soon as I got here to warm up, I felt nothing but confidence. It was definitely the best I've ever skated that program, even including practice."

With this performance, Dornbush marked himself a contender at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships: his overall score of 219.56 is higher than marks achieved by top U.S. men on this fall's senior Grand Prix circuit, despite juniors performing one less element.

"I've really enjoyed China -- I've been very comfortable here -- the culture is amazing," he said. "It was great to be able to have this kind of performance here for the Chinese fans. I think it gives me some confidence going into nationals to know that I was the top junior man here. I'm really looking forward to the upcoming U.S. Championships."

Chinese skater Han Yan won silver with a free skate that included solid jumps, but little in the way of choreography. He ended with 186.05 points. Canadian Andrei Rogozine climbed from seventh after the short to win the bronze after showing two clean triple Axels in his free.

The other U.S. men placed fourth, fifth and sixth.

Max Aaron's usually strong Axel let him down a bit; his first was shaky, and he put his hand down on the ice on his second. He did land five clean triples and ended up fourth with 181.28 points.

"I don't think it went as well as I've trained it," Aaron said. "I gave the best I had on this day, so I guess I'm happy with the outcome. I was a little outside the circle on a couple of my jumps. I really had to fight through it -- it was a battle."

Keegan Messing had several ups and downs in his free program and dropped from second to fifth position overall with 175.42 points.

The first triple Axel in his Incredible Hulk program was excellent, as were his spins and general style. But he popped his second Axel into a single, landed and his triple Salchow on two feet and fell at the end of the step sequence as well as before taking off to the loop.

"My opening was pretty good -- my triple Axel was there," Messing said. "On the next triple Axel I didn't bring enough pressure to the ice. I tried not to let it bother me, to move on, telling myself 'it's just one element, and it doesn't make or break the whole program.'

"I have a lot of disappointment in myself, for letting mistakes like that happen. I have to concentrate on not letting go until the music stops and to not celebrate too soon."

Joshua Farris dropped from fourth to sixth place with 173.97 points overall. Although he landed four triples in his free, he missed his first triple Axel, and then singled the second attempt and crashed into the boards while trying to add a triple toe.

Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran of Japan, who train in Montreal under Richard Gauthier, won the pairs event with 159.52 points (105.58 in the free program) due to their superior style, although she fell on the triple Salchow and stepped out of the landing of the throw triple toe loop.

"I am really happy to listen to the Japanese anthem today, because I have never heard the Japanese anthem in competition for us," Takahashi said.

"My feet really hurt, I am feeling tired, but it is awesome to finish like this. My next goal is to try to do harder elements," Tran said.

Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, from the St. Petersburg school of Ludmila Velikova in Russia, took silver with 150.54 points overall (100.91 in the free program). They also performed well; their only big mistake was her fall on the triple toe loop.

Chinese pair Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin moved up from sixth to third position. Yu fell on the throw triple loop, but their lifts, twist and other triple throw were strong.

U.S. novice champions Ashley Cain and Joshua Reagan of Euless, fifth after the short, remained in that position after a free skate that included side-by-side triple Salchows; two double Axels done in sequence; and Level 4 spins. Cain fell on the throw triple flip, and they also had trouble landing a lift.

"I thought it was a really good program," Reagan said. "We did have one mistake -- the first throw -- but other than that, it was great. We changed the program up a lot from our last competition; we put a lot of new elements in."

"We didn't skate our best but we still put out two really strong programs," Cain said. "We're really pleased overall with the competition