Aspen skater moves up at 2000 Junior Nationals |

Aspen skater moves up at 2000 Junior Nationals

Aspen Times Staff Report

Local figure skater Jeremy Abbott, 14, recently traveled to Amherst, N.Y., for the United States Figure Skating Association’s 2000 Junior National Competition and wowed the crowd with a sixth-place finish despite being among the youngest athletes in his age group.

Abbott earned his way to the Junior Nationals with a third-place showing at the Southwestern Regionals last October in Denver, making him one of just four qualifiers from the region.

Once at Amherst, Abbott joined a field of 36 top skaters from around the country for a qualifying round that thinned the field down to 18 – the top six in each of three groups. Abbott earned his way to the final round by tying for second place in his group.

Skating in front of a large crowd under the gaze of a team of national judges, the finalists started off with the short program, which requires specific moves from each skater.

“In Intermediate Men, it’s a gamble whether or not to put in the double axel for the short program,” said Allison Scott, Abbott’s mother and the president of the Aspen Skating Club. “Last year, we watched some of the best boys crash and burn in the short program because their nerves got to them and they missed the jump.”

Abbott and his coach, Tom Zakrajsek, decided to eschew the difficult maneuver in favor of a clean, artistic program that left Abbott in ninth place, square in the middle of the pack.

It was the highest position of any skater who did not attempt a double axel and left Abbott ahead of many athletes who tried the jump and failed.

In the long program, Abbott put together a clean performance that earned him a fifth-place showing, leaving him in sixth-place overall nationally in the 14-17 age group.

“I am very proud of Jeremy,” said Zakrajsek, the USFSA developmental coach of the year in 1999. “His skate was courageous. … I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.”

Abbott, who now skates for the Broadmoor Skating Club in Colorado Springs, was making his fourth trip to Junior Nationals. He competed in Juvenile Dance in 1996 and 1998 and also competed in Juvenile Men’s Freeskate in ’98.

Last year, Abbott took silver in Open Juvenile Pairs with former partner Brittany Vise.

With the end of the 2000 competitive season, Abbott now has his sights set on the next level, novice, which he qualified for this winter by passing the USFSA freestyle test.

Before then, however, Abbott will return to Aspen to skate in the Aspen Skating Club’s annual spring show, entitled “OZ” and loosely based on “The Wizard of Oz.” In addition to Abbott, the event will feature 1983 world champion and 1984 Olympic silver medalist Rosalynn Sumners.

There will be two performances (4 p.m. and 7 p.m.) of the show on Saturday, April 22, and tickets go on sale the first week of April.

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