ONTARIO, Calif. (AP) ? Michal Brezina hung on to win the men’s title at Skate America despite a slew of mistakes in his free program Saturday.
The Czech hit his opening triple axel and then things went downhill quickly, but he won the season-opening Grand Prix event in part because of his commanding lead following the short program Friday.
Brezina didn’t do his first planned quad toeloop and instead did a triple skating to music from “The Untouchables.” He popped his attempt at a quad salchow, popped a triple loop and then fell on a triple lutz late in the program. He earned $18,000 for his first-ever Grand Prix win.
Kevin van der Perren of Belgium was second at 212.48, narrowly edging Takahiko Kozuka of Japan, who totaled 212.09. American Richard Dornbush was fourth at 202.27.
Van Der Perren and Dornbush were the only two men to land fully rotated quads.
Brezina pounded his head after he finished in front of a sparse crowd at Citizens Business Bank Arena in this city 40 miles east of Los Angeles.
He had vowed to do consecutive quads in his free skate, but after watching several of his competitors fall, his coaches told him no.
“They saw everything and I kind of think they want to play the game in the casino. If you can play safe, play safe,” Brezina said. “I was kind of mad. I’m pretty sure if I would go for a quad it would be OK.”
He plans to try it at his next competition.
“I want to prove to my coaches the quad will be in there, even if they say no,” he said.
Brezina missed last season’s Grand Prix circuit while recovering from surgery to repair a varicose vein his stomach.
“It messed up your head,” he said. “There was something I was always scared about.”
Van Der Perren, a two-time European bronze medalist who at 29 is contemplating retirement, equaled his best Grand Prix showing. He hit his opening quad in a routine to “The Man in the Iron Mask” and won the free skate after being fourth in the short program.
“I still love the sport,” he said. “As long as I’m in good shape, I’ll be competing.”
Kozuka, silver medalist at worlds, fell on both his quad and his triple lutz.
“I really wanted to show I was having fun performing to the music that I loved,” he said through an interpreter.
Dornbush was cheered by family and friends from his nearby hometown of Corona. He hit his quad for just the second time in a competition, although the landing was low. He fell on his final jump, a triple loop, while skating a Western-themed routine to music from the Clint Eastwood movies “A Fistful of Dollars” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”
“I made a lot of little mistakes I regret,” he said. “Just got to be able to work on doing the rest of the program.”
Three black cowboy hats were tossed on the ice as he finished and Dornbush picked one up and plopped it on his head.
“I’m going to wear this to class on Monday,” the 20-year-old junior college student said.
American Douglas Razzano, a late replacement after Olympic champion Evan Lysacek withdrew, was seventh. Countryman Armin Mahbanoozadeh, third last year, fell three times and was 10th.