Torgashev takes commanding lead in junior men’s

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Artem Torgashev knew his pupil and son, Andrew Torgashev, performed his short program well Wednesday afternoon at the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. He just didn’t know how well.

The judges did. They awarded Andrew 75.61 points, more than 10 points over the field, and some 15 points higher than his score at Eastern Sectionals in late November.

“It was his best short this season, for sure,” said Artem, a former Soviet pairs competitor who trains his skaters in Coral Springs, Florida. “It was a surprise. We didn’t expect such a big score, even though he did everything clean and solid and good quality. But I didn’t expect it to be that high.”

His mom, who is also his choreographer, didn’t raise an eyebrow.

“He just did what he can do,” Ilona Melnichenko said. “It wasn’t a surprise for me. That is how he practices.”

Torgashev — at age 13, the youngest skater in the event — was in full command throughout his short to Gary Moore’s “Parisienne Walkways,” choreographed by Melnichenko and Scott Brown.

His jumps, including a triple flip-triple toe loop combination and triple Lutz, were smoothly landed; his spins were liquid and fast. The highlight was an expressive, Level 4 step sequence punctuated by twizzles, kicks and leaps that gained +2 and +3 Grades of Execution (GOEs) across the judging panel.

“I kind of do it every day in practice like it was nothing special,” Andrew said. “It’s what I’ve been practicing for the last four weeks.”

The teen, who finished fourth in the U.S. novice men’s field last season, did admit to a few butterflies when he took his starting position.

“I felt a bit shaky, but then I started skating and it all just went back to muscle memory, and I just let that take over,” he said.

Again, mother knows best.

“He was well prepared,” Melnichenko said. “I knew he would do it. I wasn’t worried at all.”

Andrew’s competitors will have to bring their “A” games for the junior men’s free skate Friday morning. The skater thinks it’s by far his better event.

“I actually like the free more,” Andrew said. “I kind of set my head to go for the full four minutes and I just keep on going non-stop. The short program, for me, it’s a bit harder. It requires that little bit of extra focus, and that’s what got me through today.”