While many viewers were excited for the beginning of the new Grand Prix season, nineteen-year-old Ross Miner was focused on a milestone of a different sort. Miner was selected to represent Team USA at NHK Trophy in Nagoya, Japan October 21-24th. He and coach Peter Johansson made the long trip to Japan to join U.S. National Champion Jeremy Abbott in the debut event of the season. But for Miner, who claimed the 2009 US Junior Men’s Championship only to be benched by injury before his 2010 Senior Nationals debut, this international assignment was a welcomed opportunity to resume the momentum of his young career.

In the short program, Miner worked his required elements while expressing the salsa style of his ‘Para Ti’ soundtrack. He opened with a tightly wound triple Axel, countering with a fabulous triple Lutz-triple toe combination that garnered extra points for GOE, and completing his jumps with a triple flip. He achieved a level 3 for his combination spin and a level 4 for his signature sit spin. His technical mark of 34.88 and component score of 29.97–for a final program score of 64.85–left Miner in seventh place at the end of the first phase of the competition.

For the long, Miner returned to his legendary Casablanca program. But unlike his novice rendition, this one featured a more seasoned leading man who packs a swagger and downs three fingers of Scotch. He opened with a lyrical and lilting circular step sequence that captures the pathos of Bogart himself as Rick, but rather than love and war, Miner faces down demons in the form of a triple Axel followed by a pair of triple-double combinations, first with a Lutz and then with a flip. Like the film itself, Miner saves the bulk of the drama for late in the program, packing eight elements into the second half, including a beautiful triple loop and a triple Lutz. A gutsy triple Salchow attempt approached from a spread eagle was downgraded, and the triple flips received edge calls, but the strong spins all secured positive GOE points. With a total of six triples, Miner’s segment score of 121.77 brought his event total to 186.62.

“I was determined to show everyone and myself that I’m ready to be competitive on the senior international stage,” said an upbeat Miner. “This was a great mark to start the season and now I’m looking forward to improving upon these performances in my next event.”

Miner will appear next at Cup of China in Beijing, November 5-7.

– Submitted & Written by Ellen Dodson