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Miner pays tribute to Boston with 'Glory'-ous free

Three-time U.S. medalist promises emotional experience for those in audience

Ross Miner wants to capture the emotions the people of Boston felt following the Marathon bombings in his free skate this season.
Ross Miner wants to capture the emotions the people of Boston felt following the Marathon bombings in his free skate this season. (Getty Images)

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By Amy Rosewater, special to icenetwork.com
(08/19/2013) - Ross Miner was getting a bit concerned. It was April, and he had no idea what he was going to skate to in the fast-approaching season, a season with big implications.

On April 15, while at the Skating Club of Boston, Miner and his coaches, Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson, began receiving a flood of calls and texts on their cell phones.

As it turned out, two bombs had exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. For Miner, who lives in the usually serene town of Watertown, Mass., and whose home is less than one mile from where one of the bombers was discovered in a boat, the explosions were especially shocking.

"The experience was very surreal," said Miner, still somewhat stunned by the events several months later. "I mean, there was gunfire in Watertown. When was the last time that happened?"

Not long afterward, in mid-May, Mitchell was driving to a competition and was listening to an album titled Glory by Michael W. Smith. It was music he had in his files for a couple of years and had considered using for Miner in the past. But when he heard it this time, the music spoke to Mitchell, almost telling him the story of the Boston bombings. The more Mitchell listened, the more he became convinced that Miner could use the music not only to tell about the bombings but also of the strength of the city they call home.

"I thought it was the right time for it," Mitchell said.

Miner said he liked the music right away.

"At first I was a little concerned," Miner said. "I didn't want to be that guy who took advantage of a situation. But I realized this hit very close to home and it was very real to me."

The Glory music and its "Boston Strong" theme have evolved into Miner's free skate program. While the program harkens to the dark day of the bombings, it really focuses on the spirit of the city and how everyone there pulled together in a time of tragedy. Choreographed by Mitchell, the emotional routine has quickly become Miner's favorite. In fact, Miner has gone as far as to say, "It's the best program I've done."

"We're calling [the program] 'Boston Strong,'" Mitchell said. "For us in Boston, it's about how everyone stuck together, and this sense of community that we felt was amazing."

Miner will skate this program in front of U.S. Figure Skating officials this week at Champs Camp, at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo. The first time Miner will perform the program in a major competition will be at the Ondrej Nepela Trophy, Oct. 3-5 in Slovakia. He is scheduled to compete in the Grand Prix Series at Skate Canada and Trophée Eric Bompard.

Perhaps the most emotional rendition of the routine will come when Miner skates it in January, at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which will be held -- where else? -- Boston.

Miner believes performing the program in his home city will be a benefit.

"I think it will carry me more than anything," Miner said. "I think it will make the crowd feel what I'm feeling."

The free skate certainly will have its emotional elements (a death drop, for instance, when there is a crashing sound in the music, signifying a bomb blast) but will include plenty of technical difficulty as well. Miner said he plans to have two quadruple Salchows in the free skate (one in the short) as well as two triple Axels and two triple-triple combinations.

"I've gotten a lot of compliments in the rink already, unsolicited ones, too, which is really nice," Miner said. "(U.S. pairs champion) Simon Shnapir is one of them who has said he really liked it. I'm just excited to perform it."

What Miner seems to like most about this program, as well as his short program which is choreographed to "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, is that he is not playing a role, as he did last season, when he portrayed Errol Flynn.

"I didn't want to be Ross Miner playing a role," Miner said. "I wanted to be Ross Miner being Ross Miner."

Although Miner was born in Vermont, he has lived in Boston for a decade and considers it his adopted hometown.

Mitchell and Johansson said people from Boston definitely will be able to relate to the program.

"I think everyone who was here when the event happened all understand it," Johansson said. "It's amazing what people will do for each other, and I know the [bombings] had a huge impact on Ross. For anyone who will see the program, it will be hard not to be touched by it. They will definitely feel it."