U.S. Nationals Novice Men’s Preview

This is a young but talented group of men.  It includes the reigning Intermediate Champion, bronze medalist and pewter medalist.  Three of the men competed at the Novice level last season and all of the competitors have competed at nationals previously.

Tomoki Hiwatshi is only 12 years old but looks to follow in Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou’s footsteps and claim the novice men’s title.  He set the two highest scores in qualifying and is the only novice man who broke 100 in the free skate this season.  He has a triple lutz, triple salchow and triple toe.  He has his double axel in the bonus in his short program and a triple toe + single loop + double flip in his free skate worth 7.04 points.  He also received level 4s on all his spins at sectionals.  He’ll be going for his third consecutive national title in Omaha.

Oleksiy Melnyk hit a clean, positive GOE short program at sectionals to claim the gold medal.  He has all the triple except for a triple axel which give him a technical edge over the competition.  He has a triple toe + triple toe combination planned in his free skate that’s worth 8.20 points along with a 2A + double loop + double loop.  He improved his total score between regionals and sectionals despite scoring lower in his free skate.

Daniel Samohin scored 16 points lower at sectionals than regionals, largely due to deleting two combinations from his free skate.  He has a triple lutz, triple toe, triple loop and triple salchow and will be going for a triple lutz + double toe in his short program.  Despite the errors, he still took home the gold from Pacific Coast Sectionals and if he can hit all the elements in his free skate he has a great shot at the podium.
  
Nicholas Vrdoljak improved an impressive 16 points from regionals to sectionals.  He has a triple toe + triple toe combination along with a triple flip, triple salchow and triple toe.  He hit level 4s on his spins at sectionals as well.

Also in the hunt are Daniel Kulenkamp, Paolo Borromeo and Tony Lu.

My podium predictions:  
Gold: Tomoki Hiwatshi
Silver: Daniel Samohin
Bronze: Oleksiy Melnyk
Pewter: Nicholas Vrdoljak

Bios of the competitors:
Paolo Borromeo: He is 13 years old and competes for the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.  He is the reigning Intermediate Men’s Bronze Medalist and finished 7th in Juvenile Boys in 2011 and 16th in Juvenile Boys in 2010.  He won silver at Southwest Pacific Regionals and silver at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  He has the 7th best short program, 5th best free skate and 6th best total score.

Aaron Gunderson-Smith: He competes for the Skating Club of Wilmington.  He finished 13th in Juvenile Boys in 2008 .  He won silver at North Atlantic Regionals and pewter at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  

Tomoki Hiwatshi: He is 12 years old and competes for the DuPage Figure Skating Club.  He is the reigning Intermediate Men’s Champion and the 2011 Juvenile Boys Champion and finished 6th in Juvenile Boys in 2010.  He won gold at Upper Great Lakes Regionals and gold at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  He has the best short program, best free skate and best total score.

Daniel Kulenkamp: He is 17 years old and competes for the St. Paul Figure Skating Club.  He finished 12th in Intermediate Men in 2011.  He won silver at Upper Great Lakes Regionals and bronze at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  He has the 6th best free skate and 7th best total score.

Tony Lu: He is 13 years old and competes on behalf of the Skating Club of Wilmington.  He is the 2010 Juvenile Boys Silver Medalist and finished 10th in Novice Men in 2012 and 18th in Juvenile Boys in 2009.  He won silver at South Atlantic Regionals and silver at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for Nationals.  He has the 6th best short program, 7th best free skate and 5th best total score.

Oleksiy Melnyk: He is 15 years old and competes on behalf of the Washington Figure Skating Club.  He is the 2011 Intermediate Men’s Silver Medalist and finished 11th in Novice Men in 2012 and 7th in Juvenile Boys in 2009.  He won gold at South Atlantic Regionals and gold at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for Nationals.  He has the 2nd best short program, 2nd best free skate and 3rd best total score.

Daniel Petrenko: He is 13 years old and competes for the Charles Oak Figure Skating Club.  He finished 6th in Intermediate Men in 2011 and 19th in Juvenile Boys in 2008.  He won gold at New England Regionals and bronze at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  He has the 10th best total score.

Daniel Samohin: He is 13 years old and competes for the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.  He is the 2011 Intermediate Men’s Pewter Medalist and 2010 Juvenile Boys Champion.  He finished 8th in Juvenile Boys in 2009 and 9th in Juvenile Boys in 2008.  He won gold at Southwest Pacific Regionals and gold at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  He has the 3rd best short program, 3rd best free skate and 2nd best total score.

Nicholas Vrdolkak: He is 16 years old and competes for the DuPage Figure Skating Club.  He is the 2009 Juvenile Boys Champion and placed 7th in Novice Men in 2012, 5th in Intermediate Men in 2010 and 14th in Juvenile Boys in 2008.  He won bronze at Upper Great Lakes Regionals and silver at Midwest Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  He has the 4th best short program, 4th best free skate  and 4th best total score.

Luke West: He is 15 years old and competes for the Broadmoor Skating Club.  He finished 20th in Juvenile Boys in 2009.  He won silver at Southwestern Regionals and pewter at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  He has the 8th best short program, 10th best free skate and 9th best total score.

Harrison Wong: He competes for the La Jolla Figure Skating Club.  He is the reigning Intermediate Men’s Pewter Medalist and finished 17th in Juvenile Boys in 2011.  He won pewter at Southwest Pacific Regionals and bronze at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  He has the 10th best short program.

Albert Zeng: He is 15 years old and competes for the Skating Club of San Francisco.  He finished 9th in Juvenile Boys in 2010 and 16th in Juvenile Boys in 2009.  He received a bye through regionals and won pewter at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.