by Doris Spicer Pulaski
(20 January 2013) Shotaro Omori, Los Angeles FSC, 17 years old, from La Mirada, CA scored 69.87 to win the Junior Men's Short Program by more than four points over the next place finisher. Omori, who is coached by Tammy Gambill, skated a nearly perfect short program to “Misa Tango" by various artists. Last season, the 2009 bronze medalist in Intermediates did not even qualify for nationals. This season he only finished fourth at Pacific Sectionals to just qualify this year.
At sectionals, Omori popped his triple axel to a single, but this time everything was different. Every move was smooth, and fluid. He landed a gorgeous triple axel, a smooth triple Lutz triple toe loop combination, and the required triple flip out of steps with a bonus. Every element earned a positive grade of execution. Omori was the first to skate in the event, and stayed at the top of the leader board to its very end.
Second place was earned by Vincent Zhou, of the All Year FSC. The 2012 US Novice champion also skated his "Sorcerer's Apprentice" program almost exactly as planned, scoring 66.31 points. Zhou's lightning quick steps, two level 4 spins, and great flexibility were the highlights of his packed program. Zhou's movements are so quick, and his speed across the ice so fast that he is difficult to follow. At the end of his routine, one of the fans threw him a tall, conical sorcerer's hat that almost matched his costume. He wore it the whole time he was awaiting his scores, and he and his coach Tammy Gambill were obviously very pleased with his debut in Juniors at US Nationals. Zhou does not yet have a triple axel, and his jumps are smaller and less powerful than Omori's as yet, but he has an exciting future ahead of him.
Third place went to Nathan Chen, the 2012 US Junior Men's Champion. The thirteen year old's season started well, with a win at the Junior Grand Prix of Austria, where he landed his first triple axel in international competition. However, later last fall, Chen developed Osgood-Schlatter disease and had to withdraw from his next event. The student of Rafael Arutunian skated to "Prelude and Allegro" by Franz Kreisler, earning 63.60 points for a routine that contained two level four spins and a level four straight line step sequence. Unfortunately, just after Chen completed the step sequence, he fell. He also had problems with his triple Lutz, triple toe combination, under-rotating the triple toe. The landing of his required triple flip jump was not smooth, either.
Jimmy Ma, of the Skating Club of New York, placed fourth with 57.80 points, a good result for the fourth place finisher from the 2012 Eastern Sectionals. He attempted neither a triple axel, nor a triple Lutz triple toe combination, opting to do a triple Lutz double toe. He also was given an edge call on his triple flip.
Jordan Moeller, Northern Ice Skating Club, performed to an instrumental version of "A Day In The Life" by the Beatles, choreographed by Rohene Ward. The student of Kori Ade was only able to score 57.20 points, to finish fifth, mostly due to points lost when he popped his triple Lutz triple toe combination to a double Lutz. The most interesting moves in his routine were a hydroblade move into his double axel at the very end of his program and Arabians into a level 4 flying camel spin, both of which earned impressive grades of execution from the judges.
Jay Yostanto, 18, of the Skating Club of New York finished sixth in the short program with a score of 55.05. He completed a nice triple axel, but struggled with his triple Lutz double toe combination, and fell on an underrotated triple flip which also received an edge call.
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