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Torgashev turns juvenile boys bronze to gold

Figure skating genes show as Melnichenko's son prevails

Andrew Torgashev led the juvenile boys pack by just over two points in East Lansing.
Andrew Torgashev led the juvenile boys pack by just over two points in East Lansing. (TSS Photography)

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By Renee Felton, special to icenetwork.com
(12/14/2011) - Andrew Torgashev was the 2011 juvenile bronze medalist but knew, in spite of that success, that he would be skating another year at the same level. He did, at the U.S. Junior Championships.

"I medaled last year without a double Axel," he said. "That is something you need if you want to be really successful at the juvenile level and move on to intermediate."

In addition to meeting his goal of having a double Axel in his repertoire, he also added a gold medal to his trophy case. With 54.02 points, the 10-year-old from the Panthers SC won the juvenile boys division.

The Paganini free skate included two double Axels, one done in combination with a double loop, and two Level 4 spins.

"As his mom and coach, I am happy to see he gets what he deserves this year," Ilona Melnichenko said. "He worked hard, and I'm so proud."

Rocky Mountain FSC representative Kellen Johnson (10) won the silver medal in his first trip to the U.S. Junior Championships with 51.59 points.

"I have learned a lot this week and am so happy to be here," Johnson said. "This is a great way to spend my first year at this competition."

Coach Tom Zakrajsek agreed. "He's learned a lot in a short time. I'm impressed that he kept up with some of the boys who have been competing here for two years."

Johnson's Zorro-themed free skate featured a double Axel-double toe combination and one Level 4 spin.

Winner of the bronze medal, Jun-Hong Chen credited a good showing in Monday's qualifying round with allowing him to be calm enough to skate well tonight.

"I feel really good after that program, very calm," the Broadmoor SC member explained. "I'm not as nervous as before because I did a good skate in qualifying, so I knew I could do it tonight."

"Stand-in" coach Eddie Shipstad (head coach Ryan Jahnke is a new father and remained home with his family) noted Chen's great accomplishment.

"He did an amazing job," he said. "That was a strong, clean program. [It's] a nod to his consistent and disciplined training."

The pewter medal went to Eric Sjoberg, while hometown skater Ivan Mokhov placed fifth.

"I'm so happy I got to compete at my home rink," Mokhov said, after receiving overwhelming cheers from the crowd. "They were really loud. I liked that."