GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro, North Carolina, has a special meaning for each of the top three finishers in the men’s short program at the 2015 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
For Jason Brown, who is holding steady in the top spot with a score of 93.36, Greensboro is where he made his senior-level debut at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. That year, he finished ninth.
Joshua Farris, whose score of 90.40 landed him in second, also made his senior debut in Greensboro; however, he remembers the 2011 championships best for being the week when he tore his abductor muscle in practice, then, days later, suffered an anaphylactic shock due to dairy allergies. Finally, he broke his fibula and sprained a tendon because of a fall in his free skate. He finished 21st.
Jeremy Abbott, whose score rivaled Farris’ with 89.93 points, remembers the 2011 U.S. championships in Greensboro as the time he sought his third consecutive national title, but faltered and finished fourth, missing the world championship team for the first time in four years.
Friday night proved to be much more exciting for all three.
“It’s been such an incredible journey from that point to now, and to be back and to be in front of this audience again it was truly, truly incredible, and I’m so excited,” Brown said. “I went out there and I skated the way that I trained and I put out a solid, clean short program and I’m so excited, and I’m looking forward to going into the long program Sunday doing, hopefully, the same thing.”
It’s no wonder Brown put out a spectacular, personal-best performance. In the 30 days leading up to the competition, his coach, Kori Ade, challenged Brown to perform 40 clean programs (a combination of both his short program and free skate). Knowing he would be on vacation for four of the 30 days, Brown really put pressure on himself to meet the challenge. And he did.
Farris, on the other hand, was flabbergasted by his score, which shattered his previous personal best by more than 10 points.
“I was shocked,” Farris said. “I had no idea it was going to be that high. I was expecting 80, at the most. The fact that I exceeded that by 10 points is amazing. I feel so great right now.
“It’s nice to know I have support; this whole year I felt self-deprecating and defeated, so the fact that I can even step out of a jump and still get that score is nice to know and will definitely motivate me for the future.”
None of the three men attempted a quadruple jump, which Abbott pointed out is a strong statement for the artistry of figure skating.
“I am so happy to be sitting here with these two men,” Abbott said during the post-event press conference. “I think we made a nice, strong statement that figure skating can be an art as well as a sport. It’s an honor to be sitting here with these two men and to have us be the top three at the moment.”
He later said that figure skating is a craft and, while all three skaters are well aware that they need a quad to medal at world championships, sometimes that craft can be overlooked, and skaters and judges should pay attention to detail and not lose sight of “what figure skating is and what it was and what it could be.”
Abbott, Brown and Farris did just that Friday night.