For one, it was a highlight performance, for the other, a much-less-than-expected performance, but the outcome was the same.
Vanessa Lam skated a flawless free program on Tuesday night in the Senior Ladies final at the Peaks Ice Arena to win that division, while Keegan Messing had one of his worst performances of the year, but still won the free skate by a few tenths of a point and won overall easily thanks to a big lead after the short program.
Of course, the victory in Provo was only a step along the path for Lam, Messing and many other skaters who were trying to land in the top four of their divisions to earn a berth at U.S. Nationals in Omaha in January.
“I did pretty much everything I had planned, that I wanted to do,” said Lam, who opened her program with a triple Lutz-double loop-double loop combination and ended it with a solo triple Luz and a double Axel out of a spread eagle entry. In between, she hit four other triples and looked good in her spins and choreography. “I trained really hard at home, and I felt pretty good out there.”
Courtney Hicks, a teammate of Lam’s from the All Year Figure Skating Club in Ontario, Calif., was second. She had the biggest combination of the competition, with a triple flip-triple toe, but fell out of the landing of the second triple and had a couple of other errors to finish behind Lam. Sofia Adams and Amanda Hofmann rounded out the top four.
Messing, from Alaska, who just more than a week ago won a senior international competition in Nice, France, appeared to be feeling some jet-lag, and maybe some altitude. He had by far the most ambitious technical content, and had a near 15-point lead after a short program on Monday that included triple Lutz combo and a quadruple toe loop. Tuesday, he opened with a triple Axel combination, a quad toe and what was supposed to be a triple Lutz-triple toe combo, but ended up being just a solo triple Lutz, and he struggled on the landings of all three jumps. Still, he won the free skate 121.62 to Jonathan Cassar’s 121.23 – Cassar also had some wonky landings and popped jumps – and won overall with a 201.98 to Cassar’s 183.00. Philip Warren and Sean Rabbitt rounded out the top four.
“I wasn’t really that upset,” said the 20-year-old Messing, who finished seventh at U.S. Nationals last year and is aiming for the podium (top three) this season. “I just got back from Nice and we’ve been on the road for about two months now. We’ll go home now and get a little rest, then really focus on Nationals.”
Locally, one skater made nationals, another is second alternate and another finished seventh.
In Junior Ladies, Camille Davis of Springville couldn’t manage to overcome a season-long struggle with boots and injuries and finished seventh overall. That makes her third alternate, but it’s a long shot for her to make her second straight trip to nationals.
In Novice Ladies, Sarah Lyle of Payson skated two near-flawless performances to finish sixth, and as second alternate, still has an outside chance of making Nationals.
Hina Ueno of Orem finished second in the Juvenile Girls category, looking very strong, and will make her first trip to Nationals. She was seventh after some mistakes in her short program, but came back with a near-perfect free skate to win that portion of the event with a 65.56 and vault into the second spot. She will be in Omaha in January.