So the senior GP season is a mere 31 days from liftoff, and only two of the top five men in the U.S. will be competing in it—leaving a strong likelihood that three new men will join them (at least until Lysacek and Weir return… cue eye roll).
Who will get up in the mix with Jeremy Abbott and Adam Rippon? Yes, I know Brandon Mroz and Stephen Carriere are still out there, and they've both had some podium success in the past... but I’ve been watching Nationals all over again, and I’ve got a few names for you to watch… (alphabetical order, please)
+ Richard Dornbush, age 21: with an 11th place finish in his senior Nationals debut, Dornbush possesses speed, deep edges, and some fine moments of flair (including a hydroblade into triple salchow).
+ Grant Hochstein, age 20: he was only 50/50 on his triple axels at 2010 Nats, but Hochstein has a few other tricks up his sleeve—including a hydroblade (yes, another one) into double axel, and some supreme spins. He finished 7th in his senior debut.
+ Keegan Messing, age 18: if the name sounds familiar, it’s because he just won a Junior Grand Prix event two weeks ago. (And finished 9th at Nationals.) In my notes I wrote “he’s not all that polished, but boy does he have the crowd on his side!” Perhaps they all smelled a little of the “it” factor wafting into the arena during his skating…
+ Armin Mahbanoozadeh, age 19: “Arminhammer” has already had a few mentions here, most likely because he found himself with not one but two senior GP assignments last season, and followed that up with an 8th place finish at Nationals. Considering the fact that he was competing with a hip injury at the time, I’d say his potential has yet to be fully tapped.
+ Ross Miner, age 19: Miner, the 2009 Junior Men’s champ, had to withdraw from last year’s Nationals with an injury… but U.S. Figure Skating certainly didn’t forget him, for he and the aforementioned Mahbanoozadeh are the only ones on this list of mine with a Senior GP assignment. Wonder what they know that others don’t? I sure do.
To get a clue, I looked up Miner’s recent free skate from the Liberty Open Would you like to see it too? He’s using Casablanca for his free skate… no white dinner jacket a la Bogart (or Kurt Browning), but my God, who can’t root for a guy who puts a cantilever in his programs?