Rink Notes: Mahbanoozadeh takes aim at quad

Defending Skate America bronze medalist will attempt challenging jump in this year's free skate

Armin Mahbanoozadeh hopes to have learned from his efforts to land a quad toe loop at Liberty Summer Competition and Skate Detroit.
Armin Mahbanoozadeh hopes to have learned from his efforts to land a quad toe loop at Liberty Summer Competition and Skate Detroit. (Getty Images)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(10/21/2011) - When Armin Mahbanoozadeh competed this summer, his coach, Priscilla Hill, asked just one thing.

"All we want is to land the quad," she said. "That's it."

Mahbanoozadeh -- who tried the quad toe loop at Liberty Summer Competition and Skate Detroit -- didn't quite get it done, but he learned some valuable lessons.

"The quad is in my long program; I would have liked it to be in both programs, but we decided for this competition to just put it in the long," the 20-year-old said.

"The important thing is just to be rotated and [stay] on your feet, and then move on. It took a good amount of practice to get the quad and triple Axel [in the free] back to back because the timing is different. One is slow and one is fast, which took some getting used to."

Mahbanoozadeh, who won the bronze at Skate America last season and went on to place sixth at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, doesn't mind the emphasis on the four-revolution jump.

"I think there is pressure to land it, but if you kind of look at it both ways, even a fall on a quad nets you six points," he said. "Even if the worst can happen, I'm still landing a triple Lutz."

After the 2009-10 season, the ISU increased the value of quads and also modified its judging system to assign partial credit to underrotated jumps. At the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships, all three medalists -- as well as five other skaters -- landed at least one clean quad in their free skates.

"The envelope is being pushed jump-wise as opposed to other years," Mahbanoozadeh said. "There is no doubt I want to do the jump, but there is still the rest of the program you need to focus on."

The skater, who selects and edits his own music, shows two sides of his skating this season.

"My short is a piano arrangement of Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir,' and for me it's a really powerful piece of music," he said.

"My free is to the Kill Bill soundtrack. That's one thing I insist on: keeping my music to one soundtrack. I have kind of a fun long program and a powerful short, which is a new direction for me."

While Mahbanoozadeh looks for a strong skate here, his ultimate goal is to finish strong at the U.S. championships and grab one of two U.S. men's spots on the 2012 world team.

"My goal is to keep setting personal bests," he said. "I want to improve that score, improve my world ranking and really evolve my skating. I want people to enjoy my programs, and the points will follow."

Amodio tests the judges

Where Florent Amodio goes, questions about his music choices follow.

At the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships, the European champion included vocals in his Michael Jackson free skate, daring the judging panel to assess the one-point penalty proscribed in international judging system (IJS) rules. For whatever reason, no penalty was assessed.

This season, the colorful Frenchman is playing the same game.

"It's hard to find something without lyrics," he said. "Last year, my Michael Jackson was a good program. This year, I wanted something just as good."

His free skate, a tribute to Brazil, the country of his birth, is set to a free-wheeling medley featuring "Rumba d'Amore" as well as Brazilian samba and mambo rhythms, including vocal sections.

"There will be no deductions," a confident Amodio said. "Last year was not a deduction. I'm working for the audience in my programs."

Amodio's coach, Nikoli Morozov, supports his pupil's attitude.

"Our sport needs more skaters like him who want to entertain and appeal to young people," he said. "I don't think this music will be a problem."

Landing the quad Salchow with its base value of 10.5 points would ease the sting of any deduction, and Amodio is hoping to do that in his free skate here.

"My big goal this season is the quad; I need it and I know it," he said. "Last season, it was too early to do it. It wasn't ready. I'm putting it in at this competition so it's ready for worlds.

"I also did the quad toe loop this summer, but it is too early to put two quads in my program. I have to skate clean with one quad, and then we'll see. It's an important year for me; the world championships are in my country [Nice] and I want to be ready."

Amodio trains mostly in Moscow, where Morozov coaches several top Russian prospects. After worlds, published reports in Russia indicated that the Russian Skating Federation -- anxious for good showings at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games -- did not want Morozov to train foreign athletes. Amodio denied any pressure to change coaches.

"I had a big conversation about it with Nikoli and everything is fine," he said. "He wants to continue to work with me and I want to work with him. There is a very good story between us."