Ankle Injury Doesn't Stop Tommy Steenberg

Tommy Steenberg

A sprained ankle less than a month before the U.S. Championships? No problem - at least for Tommy Steenberg (SC of Northern Virginia). Steenberg sits in first place after the novice men's short program at the 2003 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Reunion Arena in Dallas.

A right ankle sprain that occurred while playing basketball with friends in December actually helped Steenberg improve some of his jumps. During the short program, Steenberg completed a triple Lutz combination for the first time in competition.

"It hurt to do the Axel and toe, so I spent more time working on the loop, flip and Lutz because it didn't hurt," he said. "So spraining my ankle turned out to be a good thing."

Colin Pennington (The SC of New York) placed second in the short with a program that was a little different from those performed by the other competitors.

"This program is more like a ballet," he said. "It is a little different, but it works for me."

He started the program off with footwork into a double Lutz then completed his second element, a triple flip-double toe combination.

Pennington, whose brother, Parker, won the U.S. novice title in 1998 and U.S. junior title in 2001, said he felt confident about the competition and was hoping to be in the top three after the short program. With his second-place finish in the short program, Pennington is poised to follow Parker's footsteps.

"It would be awesome if I can follow in his exact footsteps," Pennington said. "Parker has won all of the titles and it would be great if I can win all of them, too."

In his first year as a novice competitor, Jon Nuss (Broadmoor SC) placed third in the short program. He called the skate his personal best.

"This is great and I'm really excited about placing third," he said. "I was nervous when I saw all of the people and the big arena. But I sometimes train at a big arena so that helped."

The novice men's free skate will take place at Reunion Arena Monday at 2:50 p.m. (Central).