Road to Omaha: Miner banks on quad, transitions
NHK Trophy bronze medalist shooting for one of two U.S. world spots
|Ross Miner was one of only two U.S. men to land a clean quad in the Grand Prix Series. (Getty Images)|
The 21-year-old from Boston arrives at the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Omaha with more momentum than any of his competitors. His bronze-medal winning programs at the NHK Trophy in late November gained the highest overall Grand Prix score, 235.37 points, of any U.S. man this season, by a healthy 7.74-point margin.
Miner also landed his first-ever quadruple Salchow in competition at NHK, becoming one of only two U.S. men to land a clean quad in last fall's Grand Prix Series. (Doug Razzano landed a quad toe loop in his free skate at Skate America.)
"It's the highest score I've ever gotten, which was good," Miner said. "It was fun to do it in Japan, where there was a big crowd and there was a big buzz about it.
"I definitely had the toughest two Grand Prix events of any of the American men this year; actually, I think I just had the toughest Grand Prixs. Two guys at Skate Canada (where Miner placed fifth) made the [Grand Prix] Final, and three guys at NHK made the Final. I would have won Paris (Trophée Eric Bompard) with the scores I had at NHK. It was a good result, considering the field I was up against."
Miner and his coaches, Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson, committed to trying the quad in every program at every competition leading into Omaha, and stuck with the game plan even after the skater took some hard falls in warm-ups and competitions.
"I knew at the beginning of the year it wasn't going to be easy," Miner said. "You're not just going to put it in and land it every time. I remember when I first did the triple Axel. It took me a while to get that done, but once I did, I really felt that I owned it. I could go home every day and know I could do that jump.
"I think I did a pretty good job, especially in the long, of compartmentalizing and saying to myself, 'This is the quad, and the rest of it is something I've done a million times.'"
Johansson thinks landing the quad in both the short program and free skate is a necessity for Miner.
"It's very difficult the first year you try it in competition," he said. "Other boys have done it for five or six years; Jeremy [Abbott] has done it for years, maybe on and off, but it's been in his repertoire. Ross wants to compete with the top kids internationally and in the U.S., so he can't be without it. We made the decision to do it, and that's it."
Since NHK, Miner and his coaches have focused most on two areas: continuing to improve the consistency of the quad and adding what Miner called "a ton of transitions" to his free skate, choreographed by Tom Dickson to the soundtrack of the Errol Flynn film Captain Blood.
"The program was built so we could add more and more as we went," Miner said. "It's been good, but I definitely feel that there's a lot of improvement to be made there for me. That's the stuff that really can help separate me in the components score, because I'm capable of doing stuff that a lot of guys can't."
Johansson, too, emphasized that it was all part of a master strategy.
"It's how we always do it with pretty much all of our skaters, especially at this level," he said. "We added stuff in the long to connect the elements better. Transitions are trial and error; you do something, and if it works, you keep it. If it doesn't work, you change it to something that you can make work."
Miner, who placed 11th at his only trip to the world championships in 2011, wants to win one of the two U.S. men's world spots up for grabs in Omaha, but that's not the only way he will measure success this week.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't say one of my goals was to make the world team," he said. "But if I can get off the ice and say I did all of the jumps, and I didn't compromise the choreography to get that done, I'll be satisfied. When I can put it all together is when I feel the most satisfaction."