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JUNIOR MEN Redemption served


for Krasnozhon BY MIMI MCKINNIS Second after the short program, Alex Kras-


nozhon (Dallas FSC) knew gold wouldn’t come easily. After letting the 2016 title slip through his fingers, the 17-year-old upped the technical ante in his free skate, lifting him to the title despite two falls in the final segment. “I can’t believe it,” Krasnozhon said. “I came


here expecting to do my best. I had some mis- takes, but this was my best for today and I’m so happy to walk away with the gold.” Te title was a story of redemption for Kras- nozhon, who settled for a disappointing third- place finish at last year’s championships in Saint Paul, Minnesota. After bursting onto the scene with regional and sectional titles, topped off with the U.S. junior pewter in 2015, all eyes were on Krasnozhon to take home gold last season. But a disastrous short program left the Texas-based skater with bronze — a consolation prize that has motivated Krasnozhon throughout the 2016–17 campaign. “Last year was really difficult for me because


I really came expecting to win,” Krasnozhon said. “Ten, all of a sudden, I fell twice in my short program and it was all over. I came back strong in the free skate, but it wasn’t enough. Since then, I’ve realized how to calm my nerves. I had a strong season, and I went to the Junior Grand Prix Final. I learned that nationals is one competition, and it was time to win.” Giving it everything he had to Aaron Co-


pland’s “Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes: III,” per- formed by the London Symphony Orchestra, Krasnozhon put his demons to rest with a strong free skate that featured eight triple jumps, includ- ing two triple Axels, one in combination with a triple toe. Although he tumbled on quadruple loop and double Axel-triple loop attempts, he earned a personal-best segment score of 144.16, en route to a personal-best overall score of 211.05. “We came back from nationals last year and got right back to work,” Krasnozhon’s coach, Peter Cain, said. “I didn’t want him to sit and think too much because he was pretty down. Right from the first competition this season, he really kicked into a different gear. You could tell he wasn’t going to be disappointed again. He started getting com- fortable and feeling confident and kept that up all season long. We’re really proud of him and what he was able to do here.” Te Broadmoor SC’s Camden Pulkinen also


marked monumental growth over the last season, going from an 11th-place finish in 2016 to the silver medal in Kansas City. “It feels great because I know I still have a


lot more room to grow,” Pulkinen said. “Tis year was just a springboard for next year. To go from 11th to second is a big accomplishment for me, but more than that, placements aside, I’m so hap- py with how much my skating has improved. I learned the triple Axel, and I learned how to do


40 MARCH 2017


Alex Krasnozhon


Camden Pulkinen


triple-triple combinations. Now I’m excited to start working on quads.” An Arizona native who now trains in Col-


orado Springs, Colorado, under the direction of Tom Zakrajsek, Pulkinen won the short program before leaving with silver and a combined 197.65 points — a total more than 25 points higher than bronze medalist Ryan Dunk (Baltimore FSC). Dunk, who placed fifth in the novice event at the 2015 U.S. Championships, pulled up from


Ryan Dunk


a fourth-best short program to stand on the podi- um with 172.22 points. “I’ve been working really hard on taking one element at a time,” Dunk said. “When I heard the other scores before me, I knew I could move up and get the bronze if I just did my job. I went out there and I did it, so I’m very happy.” Rounding out the top four, Eric Sjoberg (Los Angeles FSC) earned 170.61 points and the pewter medal.


JAY ADEFF/U.S. FIGURE SKATING


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