Abbott will enjoy being atop skating stage, for now
SAN JOSE -- Jeremy Abbott will get to enjoy being the king of U.S. men's figure skating for a few months after winning his third U.S. Figure Skating Championship on Sunday.
But the marquee may begin to get very crowded. Claustrophobic, even.
2010 Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek and showman Johnny Weir are talking comeback, preparing to get back on the ice in time to make a run at the 2014 Sochi Games. Abbott took a long pause when asked about how the return of Lysacek and Weir would impact him.
"I don't know," Abbott said, laughing a little nervously. "When I was competing with them, they both kind of had these larger-than-life personalities and took all the attention, but I really feel like I've come into my own.
"With them coming back, it would be just like any other competition. I personally wouldn't feel any different with them here or without them here."
While Lysacek and Weir might have gotten all of the attention, they didn't get all the hardware; Abbott beat them both in winning national titles in 2009 and 2010, and his gold-medal performance Sunday makes him the first three-time U.S. champion since Weir (2004-06). But Abbott is right in the sense that he doesn't skate with feathers and fur like Weir, and doesn't have an Olympic gold medal like Lysacek. Instead, he has the valuable experience of having actively skated in the international men's ranks for the past two years while Lysacek and Weir have not.
"In the last two years, skating has blown up for the men. Everyone has just improved so much," Abbott said. "I think as an event, we are pushing the sport technically and artistically, and if they are going to come back, they have a lot of work to do."
Abbott did what he had to do Sunday, and even a little more. After the skaters below him in the standings faltered in the long program, he could have taken it easy, skated conservatively and hung on to his victory. But Abbott opened his program by nailing his quadruple loop, and only a couple of small mistakes marred what was an elegant, mature performance to Muse's "Exogenesis Symphony Part 3."
He won the competition by a wide margin (273.88) over Detroit training mate Adam Rippon, beating him by 32.71 points. Rippon finished with silver, his highest finish at nationals, followed by Ross Miner of Boston, who earned the bronze for the second straight year. Abbott and Rippon earned spots on the world championship team.
Rudy Galindo, who won his only national title when the U.S. championships were last held here at HP Pavilion in 1996, presented Abbott with his championship trophy Sunday. Abbott got a long ovation from the crowd following his performance.
"I skate to give a performance like that," Abbott said. "I was really nervous when it started, I was shaking a little bit, but from the second I set for the quad I was like 'I'm going to do this.'"
Abbott did all of this without being aware of the commotion that was happening right near the ice during his performance. During his free skate, Abbott's stepfather, Allen Scott, experienced a medical emergency.
"He blacked out and started convulsing," Abbott explained. "They had to call the paramedics."
Scott went to a local hospital with the rest of Abbott's family. Abbott said Scott, 64, was in stable condition. Despite messages from people to call his mother, Abbott waited until after the awards ceremony to do that. He said he had spoken to his stepfather.
"He's OK and my whole family is with him and things seem to be OK for now," Abbott said.