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Triple Salchow propels Hiwatashi to win in short

Youngster holds five-point advantage following "Maple Leaf Rag" routine

Tomoki Hiwatashi received 35.78 points for his performance in the intermediate men's short.
Tomoki Hiwatashi received 35.78 points for his performance in the intermediate men's short. (TSS Photography)

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By Renee Felton, special to icenetwork.com
(12/13/2011) - Tomoki Hiwatashi, the reigning U.S. juvenile champion, is still dancing, still smiling and still skating to the top of his group.

The energetic 11-year-old earned 35.78 points for his "Maple Leaf Rag" short program and takes a five-point lead into Wednesday's intermediate men's free skate at the 2012 U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships.

In moving up to the intermediate level this year, Hiwatashi knew he needed a triple jump or two in his arsenal. He had his triple Salchow ready for this competition and singled it out as the best element of the night.

"I worked really hard to get my triple Salchow over the summer," he explained. "I wanted to have two triple jumps, but I think the one I have is good."

The triple Salchow-double toe combination garnered 5.50 points. He also added a double Axel and a Level 4 spin.

For his free skate, the DuPage FSC representative plans to execute his new favorite move twice -- once in combination, like he did Tuesday, and once by itself.

Liam Roumila (Ice House of NJ FSC) was clearly having a great time when performing his circus-themed short program, for which he earned 30.77 points. Complete with the red cheeks and bright colors typically associated with clowns, Roumila earned 13.86 points for his program components and received an additional 3.93 for a Level 4 spin. The skater saw a deduction of 1.00 for falling on the double flip.

"It's mostly fun and a little bit of work," Roumila said of the program. "My components were good. Even though I messed up on the flip, most of the technical parts were solid, too."

Rounding out the top three is Harrison Wong of the La Jolla FSC. Wong presented a triple Salchow-double toe combination and double Lutz during his "Two Tribes" program.

After a disappointing 17th-place finish in the juvenile boys event last year, Wong's goal for 2012 is simple.

"I want to make it to the podium," he stated. "I practiced more than ever in the offseason. I know my jumps and my presentation are better than before."

Spots on the podium are certainly up for grabs, with seven skaters earning around 29 points or more.

The intermediate men's free skate airs live on icenetwork.com Wednesday at 3:10 p.m. (ET).