Matsipura Hits the Triple Axel to Lead Junior Men

by Sal Zanca, Special to U.S.Figure Skating Online
Igor Matsipura
Photo by Paul Harvath

Results/Photos/Starting Orders

(1/7/04) — Igor Matsipura (Peninsula SC) took the lead in the State Farm U.S. Championships junior men's short program Wednesday afternoon with the toughest jump combination among the competitors.

The Ukraine-born 18-year-old Matsipura completed the only triple Axel of the event, combining it with a double toe loop. However, he stepped out of his double Axel.

He has been doing a triple Axel for more than a year but is just beginning on quadruple jumps.

"I just started last week (on the quadruple). It was only in practice," Matsipura said.

Skating to "Hungarian Rhapsody," he had a range of marks from 4.1 to 5.0. Still he had the top ordinals in a mix of first-place marks among the top three skaters. He had four first-place marks.

This is Matsipura's first trip back to the U.S. Championships since he finished third in novice at the 2001 U.S. Championships in Boston. He said it was difficult to back to the U.S. Championships after moving up from novice.

"I was just out of novice, and I didn't have many triples," Matsipura said.

Tommy Steenberg (SC of Northern Virginia), who has lived in five places from Hawaii to Pennsylvania because his father is in the Army, was second with three first-place ordinals. He's coached by Audrey Weisiger.

"I was just concentrating on doing the best I can do in my program because you never know how the event can go," Steenberg said.

Christopher Toland (Glacier Falls FSC) was third getting a pair of first-place ordinals and a pair of seconds skating to "Masquerade Waltz."

Toland feels he is in a good position to medal.

"The long program is my favorite program so I am very pleased with the situation," Toland said.

Wesley Campbell (Nashville FSC) was fourth but had the highest presentation scores of the event. A tall, graceful skater, he had the chance to place higher, but he made mistakes on his triple flip and double Axel.

"I started out feeling strong," Campbell said. "I guess I will have to get out there and push myself even harder."

"He just lost his focus," said Campbell's coach, Laura Sanders. "He can't do that on Friday."

The 18-year-old Campbell is in his fifth consecutive U.S. Championships - his best placing so far was a fourth in novice at the 2002 championships.

The junior men's free skate is set for Friday, Jan. 9 at 1:10 p.m. in Philips Arena.