Arts & Entertainment

Mahbanoozadeh Heads to U.S. Championships




It’s been a hectic and productive autumn for figure skater Armin Mahbanoozadeh of Fairfax. He placed second at an international junior competition in Courchevel, France, followed by gold at an event in Madrid, Spain. 843skating---Copy.jpg

Then two weeks ago, he won the silver medal at the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final in Goyang City, Korea. Although more than a little jet-lagged, Mahbanoozadeh immediately got back into training for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which will take place Jan. 18 – 25 in Cleveland, Ohio.

This year, the International Skating Union tried a new format in which they staged the finals for the juniors and seniors in the same venue. The juniors competed first and then got front-row seats for the senior competition, which proved inspiring for the younger skaters.

“It was an honor to skate with the seniors,” noted Mahbanoozadeh, 17. “It was really nice to see a lot of skaters that are better than you and you can aspire to improve to what they are someday.

“Crowds were amazing, the best I’ve ever had,” he added. “They would clap so loudly for every element you did and it was awesome. They threw lots of stuffed animals. I haven’t gotten this many ever.”

Mahbanoozadeh said he especially appreciated watching the senior international competitors practice. “They were so fast and at such a high level,” he said. Hopefully, there will be more events with both juniors and seniors. “It was great for us as juniors. I don’t know what the seniors thought of it.”

He feels pretty satisfied by his performances thus far this season. He had set himself the goal of landing the tricky triple axel jump at the U.S. Championships. To prepare, he decided to include it in one of his programs in Korea, and much to his surprise he landed it. That gives him confidence heading into Cleveland. “I got to check that off,” he said.

In addition to technical elements, he’s continuing to work on the details and interpretation in his programs. His program components score (what used to be called artistic impression) has been rising. “I keep on getting personal bests in the pcs and that’s always encouraging. I’m going to keep on working like I have, adding to the complexity of the presentation and hopefully keep on improving that score,” he said.

Unlike many skaters who are home schooled, Mahbanoozadeh attends Langley High School full-time. It’s definitely difficult, especially during the fall when he travels the most, but his teachers have been pretty supportive. He’s currently applying to colleges, but doesn’t know whether he will take a year off after graduation or attend college part-time next year.

He usually trains on an Olympic-size ice surface, 98-feet by 210-feet, but is switching to an NHL-size surface, 85 by 200, to prepare for the U.S. Championships (commonly referred to as Nationals), which will be on the latter size. It should help him with jump timing, which is often affected when skaters switch to the smaller surface.

“I didn’t do as well as I wanted to or hoped last year at Nationals,” Mahbanoozadeh said. “I kind of dropped the ball a little bit last year. My goal is to continue to train really hard and keep the focus. If I keep the focus, I can definitely put two good programs together. That’s my goal – to be happy with how I skate at Nationals.”

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