by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
Tatsuki Machida from Osaka, who was second at Worlds half a year ago, won the men’s competition at Skate America 2014 with a difference of 35 points to the rest of the field and defended his title from last year. The 24-year-old skater from Japan was the only one to perform two quads toe loops. The first one was excellent, the second in combination with a double toe loop a bit shaky. Five triples were very good as well, only on the triple flip he touched down with his hand. He interpreted the powerful music of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, including the chorus pieces with a lot of power, but also quite elegantly.
After the competition he said: “This is my first competition of the season and my preparation was not quite ready so that is why the second half of the free program quality went down a little bit. But at the same time, I was quite pleased even though this was the very first time I competed. My new free program, “Symphony No. 9,” is very challenging for me. I have to give my 120 percent otherwise the performance will not make it. While I am practicing, if I have the perfect condition but the perfect-fitting boots and everything goes perfectly, I can skate clean. It was not easy today but after hearing how the spectators responded to my performance, everything was rewarded.”
Jason Brown won the silver medal with 234.17 points near his hometown, because he lived and trained in the Chicago area until 2013. Therefore a lot of fans and club members came to the competition and gave him a standing ovation. More than 200 stuff animals and presents were thrown on the ice after his free program. He began with a good triple axel, followed by three more very good triple jumps, but a fall on the second triple axel. Later he stepped out of the triple toeloop after the triple flip and his second triple Lutz was not clean. His spins were as excellent as usual, his camel combination spins even got a +3 from five of the nine judges. His components reached an average of 8.1 with two 9.0 for the interpretation of the “Tristan and Isolde” music by Maxim Rodriguez as highest scores.
He commented: “It’s just amazing to be at home. The minute I got out there I felt the crowd’s support. I heard voices I could single out, that I knew, and it was so exciting being in your hometown. I’m just so proud to be from Chicago, so proud it all turned out the way it did since we got out the word that I would be giving all the toys to the children at the Ronald McDonald House. Going into the second triple Axel, it is just go for it. I did fall but it's all part of that growing experience. I know there's so much more to grow.”
The reigning Junior World Champion Nam Nguyen from Canada, only 16 years old, won a surprising bronze medal (232.24 points) at his first senior Grand Prix. The student of Brian Orser had been seventh in the short program, but moved up to third place with the second best free program. For the second time after the Autumn Classic international B level event in Barrie, Ontario, the week before, he landed a clean quad Salchow, followed by eight good triple jumps, including two axels. All his spins and step sequences had a level 4. His music was the famous soundtrack of “La Strada” by Nino Rota which he interpreted with a lot of good and entertaining movements. He commented: “I'm very happy with how well I skated today and yesterday. For me at this competition, I wasn't expecting too much and to have a bronze medal was a big bonus. This is my first senior Grand Prix and I'm so excited. The last two days of practices here were not going so well. I was kind of worried that it might affect my performances but yesterday I had the whole day to think about it. I was really relaxed and I'm really happy with how it ended in my situation. For a 16-year-old like me at his first senior Grand Prix winning a medal is pretty cool.”
Denis Ten of Kazakhstan was not in very good shape after being sick for three weeks in late September and early October. He had trained only for a week and finished fourth with 224.74 points. Skating to two pieces of the Asian music “New impossibilities”, which play on the Silk Road, he fell on his opening quad toeloop which was planned as a combination with a triple toe loop. He doubled his second quad attempt, but added four clean triple jumps and two skaky ones.
Jeremy Abbott of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, ended up on a disappointing fifth place (219.33 points) after being second in the short program. His presentation to Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” was excellent, but he doubled his quad attempts and singled three other jumps. Only four triple jumps were clean. He said: “it was a lot of fighting, both mentally and physically. I’m obviously disappointed with how I skated, but I think it’s still good steps forward. This was just more mileage to the rest of the season. Not what I wanted because I wanted a trip to the Grand Prix Final this year, especially in Barcelona and my last season competing but I think the most important competition for me is Worlds.”
Douglas Razzano of Scottsdale, Arizona, finished eighth, earning 204.48 points, and beat Jeremy Abbott in the free program. He stepped out of the quad toe loop, could perform five good triples, but two others were not clean. He commented: “I’m very pleased with today. That’s obviously not perfect, but that’s a lot closer to what I do at home than yesterday [in the short program].”