OMAHA, Neb.- Much like Ashley Wagner and the ice dance team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Jeremy Abbott is on the verge of repeating as U.S. champion in the men’s division after winning the short program Friday night.
Abbott, 27, nailed a triple-triple toeloop combination followed with a triple Lutz to start his short program, with a triple Axel bookended by a camel spin and a sit spin and had a final score of 84.10.
“I came into these championships knowing this was going to be more work than in the past,” Abbott said. “I got a late start to the season and had some setbacks early on, but things have been going much better in training and my focus was to do the best I could right now and move on to the World Championships in London (Ontario), and make some magic happen there.”
Abbott, who also won the event in 2009 and 2010, said he removed the quad from his opening short program jump a couple of weeks ago, but it will re-appear in the long program on Sunday.
Ross Miner, the two-time defending U.S. bronze medalist who turned 22 on Thursday, scored an 80.99 that began with a quad Salchow and a triple Axel.
“Things were a little bit tenative for me, but I was happy I was able to go out and skate a solid program,” Miner said.
In third is Joshua Farris (79.78), who just turned 18 earlier this month. After finishing 16th at this event in San Jose a year ago, he won the silver medal in the World Junior Championships in Minsk, Belarus.
“I am so happy, I can’t wait to show you guys what I got in the long program Sunday,” said Farris.
Max Aaron, 20 and originally from Scottsdale, was the first skater of the evening- although it wasn’t alphabetically planned that way- and nailed a quad Salchow- triple toeloop on his opening jump and is in fourth place (79.13). He also hit a triple Lutz and triple Axel. He currently trains at the Broadmoor Skating Club in Colorado Springs, as does Farris.
For Douglas Razzano, the 24 year old from Chandler who finished fifth last year, it was not his best night, scoring a 63.31 after falling on his first jump- a triple Axel and stepping out of his second- a triple toeloop. He did execute his triple-triple loop combination, however, and is in 14th place.
“I’m going to come out guns blazing on Sunday, and what will be will be at this point,” Razzano said. “I’m not a favorite for a medal, I have nothing to lose.”
Razzano, who represents the Coyotes Skating Club of Arizona, said he decided to forgoe the quad for the triple on the first jump while the skater before him took the ice.
“It was kind of a messy night, and I was going to go for clean, and I don’t know if that got to me, but nothing will change on Sunday,” he said, adding he will go for the quad then.
Richard Dornbush (77.66), Adam Rippon (76.65), Jason Brown (74.05), Jonathan Cassar (67.03), Philip Warren (66.48), and Brandon Mroz (66.06) round out the top 10.
During the men’s short program, Rudy Galindo and Lori Nichol were inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Nichol was the long-time choreographer for Michelle Kwan and Evan Lysacek among others, and Galindo won the 1996 singles title and two pairs titles with Kristi Yamaguchi.