American Ross Miner is making the most of his appearance at the 2009-10 Junior Grand Prix Final. He is in second place after the short program at the event, being held in conjunction with the senior Grand Prix Final in Tokyo this week, with a personal best score of 70.85. The 18-year-old American is less than one point behind the leader, 19-year-old Nan Song of China who grabbed the top spot with a personal best 71.70 for his short program.
Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan is in third with 69.85. Hanyu, who turns 15 on Dec. 7, is Japan’s reigning junior champion. American Grant Hochstein, 18, in striking distance in fourth place with 66.45 points. See our articles with coverage of the junior men's short program and the junior men's free skate.
“I am super excited to have made the Junior Grand Prix Final in my first season on the Junior Grand Prix,” Miner told IFS prior to the competition. “It's an honor to be able to represent the United States in Tokyo, thrilling to be traveling to Tokyo for the first time, and even more exciting to actually be able to watch the terrific senior skaters when my event is over.
“And I would be less than honest if I did not mention how ecstatic I was to learn that [making] the JGP Final meant that I had a bye through regionals and sectionals, thus getting me on the express train to Spokane, where U.S. Championships will be held in January (Miner will compete as a senior there). [I am] like cartwheels, handsprings and jumping over barrels ecstatic!”
Miner, the reigning U.S. junior champion, won two medals on the Junior Grand Prix Series this season to earn his spot in the final. He was golden in Lake Placid, N.Y. and won the silver medal at Croatia Cup in Zagreb. Even though he was second in Croatia, Miner put up terrific numbers. He scored all personal bests there at the time — with 66.86 for his short, 129.22 for his free skate and a 196.08 total score.
The most difficult aspect of his short and long program are the jumps, according to Miner. “In both the short and the long program this season, the triple Axel is on the agenda, as well as a triple-triple,” he said. “It takes a lot of mental concentration but the point reward can be worth it.”
Last year Miner was an alternate for all the Junior Grand Prix events, due to the deep men’s field in the United States. “I didn't do any events as an alternate,” he said.
This season has brought about a reversal of fortunes for the young American. “For me, the highlight of my season thus far was winning my first event in front of a home crowd at Lake Placid, where I trained during the summers until I was 12,” said Miner who now works with Peter Johansson and Mark Mitchell in Boston. “The people running the event at Lake Placid are always so kind and supportive of me, and I feel like it's coming home when I skate there. From the rink manager to the Zamboni driver, everyone was terrific, and the town itself is so welcoming.
“Croatia was also wonderful. The practice rink was beautiful, and the city of Zagreb was warm and hospitable. It was a very well run event, and I enjoyed traveling to a country I had never visited before. I only wish I had had the time to stay longer and visit the Dalmation Coast.”
Miner has appreciated the opportunity to travel and make connections on the series. “I have really enjoyed the friendships I have made at my events, both with my Team USA teammates and with skaters from other countries. It is important for us, as Team USA members, to try and network and establish friendships with our colleagues from other nations as well, because we may be their lasting impression of our country. I want it to be a positive impression,” Miner said.
Miner said his goal for the final is to be happy with his performances once he gets off the ice . “For me, the satisfaction of doing the best I can is what I can control,” he said, “so that is what I aim for.”
For full results in the junior men's event and junior pairs, visit the RESULTS PAGE for the competition.
Along with competing for a spot on the podium, Miner is competing for a cash reward. The junior men and ladies who win gold will pocket $6,000 (U.S.); the silver medalists $5,000; and bronze medalists $4,000. The fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishers will take home $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. In pairs and ice dance, the junior couples will split $9,000 for the top spots down to $3,000 for the sixth-place teams.
The seniors will have much bigger paydays in Tokyo. The winners in all disciplines (per skater in singles, per couple in ice dance and pairs) will earn the following:
1st place USD $25,000
2nd place USD $18,000
3rd place USD $12,000
4th place USD $6,000
5th place USD $4,000
6th place USD $3,000
The schedule of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final (junior and senior) is as follows:
Thursday, Dec. 3: Junior Pairs, Junior Men, Pairs Short Programs, Original Dance
Friday, Dec. 4: Junior Men, Junior Pairs Free Skating, Men and Ladies Short Programs, Free Dance
Saturday, Dec. 5: Junior Original Dance, Junior Ladies Short Program, Pairs, Ladies, Men Free Skating
Sunday, Dec. 6: Junior Free Dance, Junior Ladies Free Skating, Exhibition Gala