Figure Skaters Online
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Alexander Zahradnicek won the junior men’s short program at the 2011 U.S. Championships in Greensboro, N.C., with a 63.81 point performance to “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla. He leads Max Aaron (62.95), Alexander Aiken (61.78) and Steven Evans (61.66).
“It’s a great feeling,” said Zahradnicek, who finished fifth in the junior men’s competition at 2010 nationals. “I’m happy that all my hard work is paying off this year and I just can go into the long now more relaxed and just have a good time.”
Coached by Priscilla Hill, Zahradnicek opened his program with a solid triple flip-triple toe combination that earned 10.60 points, one of the highest scoring elements of the competition, a triple loop and a double Axel. After the jumps, the Eastern Sectional and South Atlantic Regional Champion performed Level 3 flying camel spin, a Level 2 serpentine step sequence, a Level 4 change foot sit spin and a Level 4 change foot combination spin.
“I think the best was just controlling my nerves. Just keeping them intact,” he said. “Going out there, not worrying about anything, letting everything flow like it does in practice.”
Aaron put his hand down on the opening triple Axel of his “El Tango de Roxanne” short program. But he recovered to land a strong triple Lutz-triple toe combination and a triple loop.
“I thought that it was quite strong, besides the first jump,” he said. “Other than that I felt comfortable with it and excited for the free skate.”
Two spins of Aaron’s spins, the change foot sit spin and the change foot combination, both at the end of his program, received a Level 4. His flying camel spin was only a Level 1 and his circular step sequence was only a Level 2.
“I feel pretty confident,” Aaron said about the free skate. “I’m not in the place I want to be or the score I wanted, but it’s good motivation to keep pushing.”
Aaron is the only competitor who received a bye to the junior men’s competition. In December, he finished fourth at the Junior Grand Prix Final, following a silver medal performance at Junior Grand Prix Japan and a bronze medal in France.
Skating before a home crowd, Aiken landed a triple Lutz-triple toe, a triple loop and a double Axel. His change foot sit spin and his program ending change foot combination spin were both Level 3 while his flying camel spin was Level 2.
“I’m very happy with it,” said Aiken, who performed a Level 3 straight line step sequence. “It’s what I came to do and what I have been training, so I can’t complain.”
Evans received a negative grade of execution for his opening triple Lutz-triple toe combination but moved on to perform a triple loop and a double Axel without problems.
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