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Melnyk almost wins in competition against self

Novice men's gold medalist scores more points in free than any other competitor tallied in total

Oleksi Melnyk scored 135.91 points, 53 more than his closest competitor.
Oleksi Melnyk scored 135.91 points, 53 more than his closest competitor. (Jay Adeff)

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By Renee Felton, special to icenetwork.com
(09/16/2012) - Novice competition from the 2012 U.S. Challenge Skate wrapped up Sunday with the men's free skate. Oleksi Melnyk, 15, skated to an easy victory, totaling 135.91 points for the event and 89.47 points for his "Ancient Lands" free skate.

Melynk nearly achieved his goal of executing a clean program. He singled a planned triple Lutz but otherwise received positive grades of execution on nine of the program's 10 other elements.

"The free skate was good, aside from the popped Lutz. After that, I kept myself together through the whole program without any other major problems," he said. "I was competing against myself to do a clean program. I almost did it, and I'm proud of myself. I'm going to run a lot of programs between now and regionals so I will be ready."

His free skate contained four triple jumps, including a triple toe-triple toe combination, and two Level 4 spins.

"I liked his performances. He looked great and fought with himself to do well," Melynk's choreographer, Natalia Tymoshenko, said. "I'm happy to see almost clean programs here."

The fight for second through fourth was close, with less than three points separating the remaining three skaters.

The Broadmoor SC's Sam Anderson placed third in both segments of competition, but his total score of 82.45 points was good enough for the silver medal.

Anderson, who skated to Phantom of the Opera, singled out his triple loop as the highlight of the program. While he acknowledged he opened up his rotation, he was happy considering he is still learning the element.

"I felt happy with the program," he said. "Since training this program as a novice skate, it has been hard, but I'm happy with the outcome. There's nothing I can complain about. I almost got my triple loop; I just need to get it to be consistent and take it to competition."

The newly minted 13-year-old, who celebrated his birthday Friday, extends birthday wishes to his coach Eddie Shipstad, who is home in Colorado Springs. Anderson is being put on the ice this week by Chicago-based coach Kori Ade.

"I hope Eddie is spending time with his family and enjoying his birthday," Anderson said.

Harrison Wong, with 81.19 points, and Jason Cohn, who earned 80.00 points, rounded out the top four.