Monday, January 18, 2010

Abbott wins title, ticket to Olympics Move to Detroit SC pays off for skater

Jeremy Abbott exults after nailing his free skate and winning his second straight U.S. title.   (ELAINE THOMPSON/Associated Press)


SPOKANE, Wash. -- The coach was already crying before Jeremy Abbott stopped spinning, before he struck his finishing pose and punched his fist in the air like a boxer celebrating the biggest win of his life.

Eight months after making a risky move in a demanding sport -- changing coaches and training bases during an Olympic season -- Abbott is heading to next month's Vancouver Winter Games as a medal favorite after winning his second straight U.S. men's figure skating title Sunday at the Spokane Arena.
Abbott, who relocated to the Detroit Skating Club last summer from Colorado Springs, Colo., finished with a national record score -- 263.66 points -- after nailing a program that was both technically powerful (one quad, eight triples) and masterfully executed.
"I'm speechless," Abbott said. "I'm just so happy."
Abbott, 24, becomes the Detroit SC's first men's Olympian since Todd Eldredge, who qualified for his final two (1998 and 2002) of three total as a member of the Bloomfield Hills club.
Abbott, the leader after the short program, earned 175.81 points for his free skate to "Symphony No. 3" -- a program that was developed in September by coach Yuka Sato and choreographer Pasquale Camerlengo.
"When I hit the quad, it was just business as usual," Abbott said. "I still had seven jumping passes and eight triples left. There was no celebrating at that point. I just stuck to my plan and I kept focused, and I went into the rest of the program. And it wasn't until the end that it really hit me, that I finally did what I did."
Defending men's world champion Evan Lysacek decided going into the competition to insert a quadruple toe into his program, and the tactic failed. He fell on the jump.
Lysacek placed third in the free skate with 154.94 points, but he still easily won the silver medal with a 238.63 total. It was his sixth straight national medal.
Johnny Weir -- competing between Lysacek and Abbott, the final skater -- earned the third U.S. Olympic men's berth after clinching the bronze medal. He finished fifth in the free skate (148.58) and had 232.09 points overall.

Weir, who whose glittery and gaudy outfit included a hint of "fox fur" off the left shoulder, said: "My costume looked good, so I was happy about that."

In an emotional scene at the boards after his performance, Abbott's coaches -- Sato and her husband, Jason Dungjen -- embraced as Sato wiped tears from her face.
Sato had never been a primary coach of a skater before when she agreed early last summer to take on Abbott, who wanted to leave Colorado after his skating regressed after he won last year's U.S. title. (He was 11th at the 2009 world championships.)
Frank Carroll, Lysacek's coach, said that he has been impressed with the work that Sato, with Dungjen, has done with Abbott. Sato, a former Olympian, was the 1994 ladies world champion for Japan. Dungjen is a former nationals pairs champion and Olympian as well.
"She's done very good work," Carroll said of Sato. "What I noticed about him tonight, Abbott, was in how much he took his time and set up each element. He didn't rush into it. He looked good and controlled before he started the element."
Contact JO-ANN BARNAS: 313-222-2037 or Check out her Olympics blog at


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