“I know that there are a lot of strong skaters competing this year, so I am not thinking about placements,” two-time World Junior Champion Rippon said. “My goal is just to skate my best, without any major mistakes, and keep improving as the season goes on.”
Now with a bronze medal from the Grand Prix season opening Trophee Eric Bompard, he might be thinking a little more about the standings. “Winning my first medal on the Grand Prix was a great confidence boost,” said Rippon, who was third to Japan’s Nobunari Oda and Czech Republic’s Tomas Verner.
It marked the first senior international medal of his career.
“Since returning home from Paris, I have been working very hard on improving on what I thought was lacking there,” Rippon said before traveling to his second Grand Prix event of the season, the NHK Trophy. “I hope that it shows when I am competing in Nagano, Japan, later this week.”
NHK Trophy, Nov. 5-8, features one of the strongest men’s competitions in the entire Grand Prix, with Rippon facing off against 2009 U.S. Champion, who is making his season debut in Nagano, and three-time U.S. Champion Johnny Weir. Weir started his season with a fourth place finish at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, Russia.
International competitors include Japan’s 2008 Grand Prix Final silver medalist Takahiko Kozuka, Japan’s three-time national champion and 2007 World Championship silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi and 2007 World Champion Brian Joubert of France. Joubert faltered at Trophee Eric Bompard, finishing fourth, and like Weir, will be looking for redemption in Nagano.
“I am very excited to compete in Japan because it will be my first time doing so as I’ve only skated in shows there,” Rippon said. “Coming into this competition I just want to skate two clean, strong programs and improve my scores. I’m feeling good and I hope the Japanese fans will enjoy my skating.”
An improvement from his sound performance in Paris could earn him another medal as well as a spot in the coveted Grand Prix Final, Dec. 3-6, in Tokyo. Abbott became the first American man to win that competition last year while Weir finished third.
In 2007, Rippon won the top prize at the Junior Grand Prix Final.
NHK Trophy is the fourth event of the 2009 International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating circuit. The series, now in its 15th season, consists of six international events in a cumulative, point-scoring format. The top six scoring athletes in each discipline move onto the Grand Prix Final, Dec. 3-6, in Tokyo, Japan, which will be combined with the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final for the second consecutive season.
The six Grand Prix events are Trophee Eric Bompard, Oct. 15-18, in Paris, France; Rostelecom Cup, Oct. 22-25, in Moscow Russia; Cup of China, Oct. 29-Nov. 1, in Beijing, China; NHK Trophy, Nov. 5-8, in Nagano, Japan; Skate America, Nov. 12-15, in Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Skate Canada, Nov. 19-22, in Kitchener, Canada.
The points toward the Grand Prix Final that are awarded for each place are 15 points for first; 13 points for second; 11 points for third; nine points for fourth; seven points for fifth; five points for sixth place; four points for seventh place; and three points for eighth. In pair skating, only the top six receive points.
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