U.S. men pack one-two punch in short
Farris, Brown are class of field; Russians Cha-Cha to first, second in dance
|American Joshua Farris takes a sizable lead into Friday's free skate. (Getty Images)|
Farris impresses judges with his clean lines, fluid skating and solid triple Axel, while Brown turns on stylish fireworks replete with unique steps and spins. Thursday, at the 2011 Junior Grand Prix Final, they were the class of the field, with Farris taking a 4.22-point lead over his countryman. China's Han Yan is third, 4.54 points behind Brown.
"My jumps felt really good and my spins were really good -- I just felt really good about my whole performance," said Farris, 16, of his short to DeBussy's "Clair de Lune," which is choreographed by one of his coaches, Damon Allen.
The Colorado Springs skater opened with a fine triple Axel, then hit a triple flip-double toe combination, triple Lutz and three Level 4 spins. His 72.99 points is a bit under his season's best, likely because he did not do a triple-triple.
"I think he felt off to the left [on the triple flip] and didn't want to mar such an exquisite program with a mistake," said Farris' coach, Christy Krall.
"It was a nice moment. He was into the ice, interpreting the music," Krall continued. "Damon and Josh have really clicked as a choreographic team. It was quintessential skating -- moving, lyrical and fluid."
Krall and Allen, who began coaching Farris after the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, have focused on helping the sometimes emotional skater maintain a positive attitude.
"He has really worked on developing a whole different demeanor," said Krall, who also coaches world champion Patrick Chan. "Our new byword and motto for Josh is that he's 'bresilient' -- brilliant and resilient."
Brown's electric routine to music from the Bajofondo Tango Club featured a strong triple flip-triple toe and triple Lutz, along with snazzy steps punctuated with a few stag jumps and a closing combination spin with an amazing layback position that drew gasps from the crowd.
The only thing it lacked was a triple Axel.
"I want the triple Axel," said Brown, who turns 17 on Dec. 15. "I'm working on it, but here my goal was to be perfect without a triple Axel. Not having it makes me want to perform at an even higher level, so I can get as many points as possible."
The Chicago skater earned 68.77 points, a new season's best, as well as a partial standing ovation from the knowledgeable crowd.
"I really like to play to the audience, and I really like it when they respond," Brown said. "This was a personal best for me."
Yan, who won both of his Grand Prix events this fall, skated with superb speed but popped an opening triple Axel attempt into a single.
At the post-event press conference, he revealed that he is competing while under the weather.
"I did not skate as good as [I did] in my practices," he said. "I got a cold and a cough, and then a fever. I hope to do all of my jumps in the free skate."
Russians grab lead in junior ice dance
Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin dominated the short dance, winning both the technical elements and program components score to take a solid 4.25-point lead into the free dance.
The Moscow natives opened their routine to Cha-Cha and samba rhythms with stunning Level 4 twizzles that gained +2 grades of execution from all nine judges, and went on to earn Level 4s for both of their Cha-Cha Congelado compulsory dance sequences.
Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton, the Detroit-based skaters who placed fifth in junior at the 2011 U.S. championships, stand fifth after Eaton slipped during a Cha-Cha sequence.
"It was not our best, that's for sure," Aldridge said. "We started off really strong. The lift was great, the first part of the pattern was pretty good. Then we had one stumble, recovered really well and finished the Cha-Cha."
"We're going to reset our minds and get ready for the free dance," Eaton said. "We want to do what we are good at doing."