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Palo Alto teen becomes ice skating world champion

March 17,2017 01:24

Palo Alto's Vincent Zhou had to skate flawlessly Friday in his long program at the junior World Championships in Taiwan. Zhou, 16, didn't miss in an arresting performance to a “Casablanca”-themed program, rallying from fifth place to become the world ...and more »

Palo Alto’s Vincent Zhou had to skate flawlessly Friday in his long program at the junior World Championships in Taiwan.
Zhou, 16, didn’t miss in an arresting performance to a “Casablanca”-themed program, rallying from fifth place to become the world champion. Zhou’s commanding finish included a quadruple lutz and two quadruple salchows — one in combination with a triple salchow — two triple axels and four triple jumps.
The U.S. senior silver medal winner scored 179.24 points for a total of 258.11 points to roll past runner-up Dmitri Aliev, who led the Russians to second-, third- and fourth-place finishes.
It wasn’t just Zhou’s jumping. He looked elegant with Level 4 footwork while wearing a white top coat and black pants.
“For me, the most important area to develop is my artistic side,” Zhou said in a news conference. “I know the technical side is very, very important nowadays because people are doing more and more quads. Of course, I will need to be doing more and more quads, too. But I can’t just be a jump machine and skate like a robot.”
The teen appeared to be floating across the ice while moving to the music. When he finished, Zhou covered his face with his hands as if in shock at how well it had gone. He gave coach Tammy Gambill a long embrace after exiting the ice.
“The gap between first and fifth after the short program wasn’t that big, so I knew it wasn’t anything I couldn’t overcome,” Zhou said. “I just took the free skate element by element.”
With U.S. champion Nathan Chen a favorite to win the senior world crown later this month, the American men appear back on top a year before the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea.
“It’s really great to see these younger guys, Nathan and Vincent, pushing the boundaries,” veteran Ross Miner said at the U.S. championships in January.
It has been a breakout season for Zhou, who attended Hoover Elementary School before switching to an online program so he could focus on skating. The teen had a career-best score Friday by 34 points.
“To me, this medal is a great opportunity to build for next year,” Zhou said. “Of course it’s a great way to end this season.”
He left Colorado Springs, Colorado, last year to train in Riverside under Gambill, the coach who helped Fremont’s Karen Chen win the U.S. championship. His mother, Fay Ge, quit her job as a computer scientist in 2009 to focus on her son’s skating. The mother and son spend weekends in Palo Alto and commute to Riverside for the week.
Zhou has been a rising U.S. star for years. He won the 2011 U.S. intermediate title, the 2012 novice crown and the 2013 junior championship.
“The standard has been getting higher and higher over the last few years,” Zhou said. “The scores also have been getting higher and higher. That’s a good thing for me personally. It allows me to keep on basing my standards on myself and it allows me to know what I have to do so I can set better goals for myself and work harder towards them.”
The Bay Area now has three serious candidates for the 2018 Winter Games with Karen Chen and Polina Edmunds among the best American women.
 

ice skating,world championships,Olympics,Winter Games

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