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Farris wheels way to win in men's short program

Edges Yan by 0.55; Brown sits fourth, five points back

U.S. skater Joshua Farris credited world champion Patrick Chan for helping his performance.
U.S. skater Joshua Farris credited world champion Patrick Chan for helping his performance. (Tom Briglia)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(03/01/2012) - It looks like Joshua Farris has his mojo back.

The 17-year-old from Colorado Springs shrugged off disappointing performances at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships to skate a brilliant short Thursday, edging Chinese phenom Han Yan by 0.55 points at the 2012 World Junior Championships.

"I feel really good about my performance," Farris said. "I could not have asked for more."

Skating to the ethereal "Clair de Lune," the teen performed in an elegant, classical style reminiscent of 1980 Olympic champion Robin Cousins. He hit a strong triple Axel, followed by a triple flip-triple toe loop combination and triple Lutz. He was the only top competitor to gain Level 4s for all three of his spins, and he heads into the free skate with a personal-best 75.43 points, some 10 points more than he gained at the U.S. championships.

"The rink here is awesome and bigger than any other rink I skated on the junior level," Farris said. "The practice rink is also great."

The skater, who won bronze behind U.S. teammate Jason Brown and Yan at the Junior Grand Prix Final in December, fell on his triple Axel at the U.S. championships and placed 16th overall. Whatever troubled him there is long forgotten, and he gives some of the credit to his training partner, world champion Patrick Chan.

"The daily practice at home with Patrick and our [primary] coach, Christy Krall, certainly inspires me every morning," said Farris, who is accompanied in Minsk by coach Damon Allen. "Patrick is always in a good mood."

Yan also hit clean jumps, including a triple Axel and triple flip-triple toe, but his camel spin rated just Level 2.

"I think I performed up to my level today," Yan, 15, said. "The spins were not perfect, but overall I am happy."

Kazakhstan's Denis Ten, who trains in California under Frank Carroll, is third with 73.78 points. The 18-year-old performed an excellent triple Axel and solid triple flip-triple toe combination. He had the most mature style of all the skaters -- not surprising, since he has competed on the senior circuit for several seasons.

"I am not happy with my spins today, but the rest of the program was good," Ten said. "I still skate in juniors because it is important for my country to win medals."

Brown sits fourth with 70.20 points after a clean program to Tango music. The 17-year-old Chicagoan gained many positive Grade of Executions (GOEs) for his elements, including a triple flip-triple toe and two excellent spins, and his good flow over the ice resulted in high program components. However, he lost ground on his camel spin, which gained just Level 2.

"I missed one edge," he said. "This was the only thing which I am not happy with today. But I am excited to be so close to a medal position and will fight on Saturday."

Brown, who trains under Kori Ade at several Chicago-area rinks, has yet to try a triple Axel in a major competition.

"I did not try a triple Axel and will not try it in the long program because it isn't clean enough yet," he said. "Our strategy at the Junior Grand Prix Final [without the triple Axel] worked out well."

U.S. junior silver medalist Timothy Dolensky of Kennesaw, Ga., is ninth after a personal-best short that earned 57.73 points.

Dolensky -- who skated to the self-composed "Windfall" -- hit a solid triple loop-triple toe loop, but his triple Lutz was a bit shaky and his closing camel combination spin gained just Level 1.

"I am happy with the way I fought," Dolensky, 19, said. "But I am not so happy with one of my spins. I know how to fix it in the future."

Minsk madness: This is Ten's final junior competition, and it is a point of discussion why he still competes at the junior level after placing 11th at the 2010 Olympic Games and eighth at the senior level at the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships. A proposal to be debated at the 54th ISU Congress in June suggests that any skater who has competed in two ISU senior championships will no longer be permitted to enter junior events ... Minsk is an early proving ground for several diminutive youngsters, aged 13 and 14, who show great potential for the future, including Japan's Shoma Uno, Canada's Nam Nguyen and Taiwan's Chih-I Tsao. They placed 10th, 18th and 21st, respectively, in the short.