Toland Wins Gold in Junior Men's Event

by Sal Zanca, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Christopher Toland
Photo by Paul Harvath

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Junior Men's Free Skate Results

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Christopher Toland Press Conference Video

(1/9/04) — It was a logical progression in the junior men's free skate Friday morning at the 2004 State Farm U.S. Championships. Last year's 4-5-6 place finishers moved up to 1-2-3 with Christopher Toland (Glacier Falls FSC) capturing the victory.

Second place went to Jason Wong (SC of Boston) who won the free skate with a clean program, while Wesley Campbell (Nashville FSC) was third.

Toland, 19, had only one mistake in his program to music from "On the "Waterfront." He landed five triples.

"I was pretty confident going into the long," Toland said. "I wasn't going to give up without a fight. Today the way it worked out - second in the free skate and third in the short - was enough to put me first overall."

He opened with a triple Lutz-double toe combination and finished with scores mostly between 5.0 and 5.4.

Wong lost his chance for a victory two days earlier.

"My short wasn't exactly the greatest," Wong said. "I popped my opening triple flip into a single. Everything else was good, it was just one stupid mistake. I really had nothing to lose today going into the long program."

His confidence showed with a good routine to "Granada," in whichhe reeled off  six triples and ended with a punch in the air. The program earned him the top scores from 5.2 to 5.6.

Campbell also skated to "On the Waterfront," but his presentation was superior to Toland's version. He started off well with a triple flip, a double Axel-triple toe loop combination, a triple Lutz-double loop and a triple Salchow. However, he took hard falls on his final two jumps.

"I am getting stronger every time I come to nationals," Campbell said. "I really look forward to taking it a step further and maybe another step up on the podium, but I am thrilled to be in the top three."

Wesley Campbell, Christopher Toland and Jason Wong
It was his fifth trip to the U.S.Championships but his first medal.

Igor Matsipura (Peninsula SC) had the lead after the short program but had a tough performance in the free skate and dropped to ninth. He was the only one who tried a triple Axel and he did it twice, barely holding his first one and falling the second time. None of the top three showed triple Axels yet.

"I have been working on it back home, but it just hasn't been at the point that I can be confident with it in the program," Toland said.

"About a month before nationals we started cutting down [on practicing them] to focus  on the more important parts of my long program. We just worked  on what we needed to go and get a good performance at nationals, and that's what happened."

Wong also played it safe.

"I opted to not attempt it in my long program since I wanted to have a clean program," Wong said. "I can do it in  practice but it is not 100 percent consistent or ready to be put in the long program."

Campbell said he could have tried it but an injury stopped him.

"I have been doing mine all year in my program, but physically I was unable to do it at this competition," Campbell said.

He hurt his right knee just after his victory at the Midwestern Sectional in November.

"A week after Mids I sustained a partial tear in the ACL," Campbell said. "The doctors thought I would not be able to skate. We went into the doctor a week later and he said it wasn't a full tear, only a partial tear and I was good to go. My doctor feels confident I will not have to have the surgery because it's healing."