Denney, Frazier take pairs title
MILAN -- For one day, at least, the Americans ruled the worlds.
Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier gave the United States its first pairs title since 2007 at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships on Thursday, while Joshua Farris, Shotaro Omori and Jason Brown became the first U.S. men to go 1-2-3 in the short program. Hold onto those top three spots in Saturday's free skate, and it would be the best finish the American men have had at junior worlds.
"I think we have a really deep field in the U.S. right now," said Brown, the bronze medalist at last year's junior worlds. "It's been really competitive just to make it on the junior world team. To have an American sweep in the short is absolutely amazing."
Denney and Frazier would have been happy with a medal of any color after finishing third in the short program. The pair, who reunited in 2012 after skating together from 2005-08, had never medaled at an international competition, finishing fourth at last year's junior worlds.
Their free skate, to "La Strada," included a double axel-double axel sequence and two level-four lifts. It was easily their best performance of the season, and their overall score of 155.83 put them in first place overall with two couples left to skate.
Canada's Margaret Purdy and Michael Marinaro couldn't catch the Americans, while China's Yu Xiaoyu and Jin Yang, the leaders after the short program, had a total meltdown. She botched their opening side-by-side double axel-double axel sequence, as well as their side-by-side triple toe loops.
That left the Americans alone at the top, only the fifth U.S. pair to win a junior world title.
"I don't think it has sunk in yet," Denney said. "But I'm really happy and proud of Brandon and myself tonight."
Purdy and Marinaro were second. Russia's Lina Fedorova and Maxim Miroshkin of Russia won the free skate to jump from seventh to the bronze medal.
Yu and Jin dropped to fourth.
The American men's previous best in the short program had come back in 1987, when Rudy Galindo was first, Todd Eldredge third and Cameron Birky fourth. That's also when the U.S. men had their best overall finish, with Galindo winning the title, Eldredge moving up to claim the silver medal and Birky finishing fourth.
Farris, Omori and Brown are now poised to top that. With 75.84 points, Farris is five points ahead of both Omori (70.82) and Brown (70.06) going into Saturday's free skate.
Michael Martinez of the Philippines is fourth with 67.01 points.
"We hope we can stay this way for the long," Brown said.
That Farris and Brown were in the top three wasn't a surprise. They were second and third at last year's worlds, and Farris was fourth as a senior at this year's U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
But Omori's a different story.
The 17-year-old, second at this year's U.S. championships, had been to all of five international events before worlds, and one of those was a lower-level competition. His best finish at a junior Grand Prix event was fourth.
He skated cleanly, though, and got the maximum level fours for both of his spins. Though his component marks weren't as high as Brown's, Omori's triple lutz-triple toe loop combination was more difficult than the triple lutz-double toe that Brown did.
"I am very surprised that I am in top three," Omori said. "I feel very honored to be in the top three with my teammates. I think Josh and Jason are definitely skaters I look up to."