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Triple-triple propels Edmunds to top of standings

Big-jumping Zhao takes second; improving Vinci places third

Polina Edmunds opened her winning short program with a triple-triple combination.
Polina Edmunds opened her winning short program with a triple-triple combination. (Jay Adeff)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(09/14/2012) - Polina Edmunds is on a mission: win a junior ladies medal at the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Omaha next January.

The 14-year-old from San Jose, Calif., took a step in the right direction Friday, opening her Russian Gypsy short program with a bang: a triple flip-triple toe combination. Although the toe was judged under-rotated, the difficult combination still earned 8.20 points.

"I've been working on the triple-triple all this year, so I'm really happy I landed it, because I want to show I can do it," the poised and elegant Edmunds said.

Her other triple, a flip, wasn't so stellar; she sat down on the ice. Two Level 4 spins, including an outstanding closing layback, helped her score, and she earned 47.54 points.

"I was pretty disappointed [by the fall] because my triple flip, I really wanted to land it," Edmunds said. "I love my program. My choreographer, Marina Klimova, did a great job. Of course, I wanted to skate clean, but I'll come back strong in the long."

Edmunds' coach, David Glynn, also hopes for bigger things in his skater's free skate, choreographed by Klimova to Romeo and Juliet.

"[Triple-triples] are a skill she has, for the most part, mastered," he said. "She can do a triple toe combo with every triple jump. She has two planned in the long program: triple Lutz-triple toe and triple flip-triple toe. She accomplished that at Broadmoor Open early this summer in June, and we're going to try to do it again here."

Edmunds, who placed sixth in juniors at the 2012 U.S. Championships, didn't gain a Junior Grand Prix event this season, but Glynn is hopeful that will change next season.

"The U.S. has a deep, talented ladies field, and it's always a battle, and that's great," he said. "Polina needs to stay consistent at all of these competitions, and she will get her turn.

"Medaling at nationals is something she has yet to do, and she really needs to do if she wants to ensure she has a spot on the Junior Grand Prix. That's something she is very well aware of and that is her goal for this year."

Selena Zhao, who trains in the Chicago area under Kori Ade, hit high, crisp jumps in her short to swing music, including a triple Lutz-double toe and triple flip. She sits second with 44.87 points.

"I was really happy with my jumps, but I'm also hoping to get my spin levels and my footwork levels," the 14-year-old said. "Spins are the big thing I've been working on this season. They are kind of a weak point for me."

Zhao succeeded, gaining Level 3 on all three of her spins here.

"The key thing has been to convince her of the importance of other parts of skating, besides the jumps," Ade said. "For Selena, it's been a learning process. Because she is such a good jumper, she's relied on that without having the full package. Hats off to her for really focusing on her skating skills. The next piece of it is [gaining] more core strength and flexibility, so she can be more versatile in her skating."

Zhao trains alongside 2010 U.S. junior champion Jason Brown, who recently took the silver medal at the Junior Grand Prix in Courchevel.

"Jason trains so much, it's hard not to follow his example," Zhao said. "He is very inspiring."

Brown, a superb spinner, has given his young training partner some tips.

"We're trying to have Jason give Selena some spin classes, but there is only so much time in the day," Ade said.

Madison Vinci, of Ashburn, Va., skated a mature and elegant Tango short. She takes 39.23 points into the free skate.

"It felt really good," she said. "I kind of sat down on the double Axel, but I was really happy because I landed my triple Salchow-triple loop combo." (The loop was judged under-rotated.)

Vinci, who includes triple loops, triple Salchows and double Axels in her programs, is working with coach Rashid Kadyrkaev to add more triples to her arsenal.

"My Lutz and flip are right there, and I'm almost positive I'm going to have them in my program by my next competition," she said. "I added a triple toe loop to my long program, and I'll be doing it here for the second time, so I'm excited."