Chal­lenge com­plete, Ham­pole takes aim at na­tion­als

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Ted CLARKE Ci­ti­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­

Fig­ure skater Justin Ham­pole was at­tempt­ing to carve a top-10 fin­ish at Skate Canada Chal­lenge and just about reached his tar­get. He placed 11th out of 23 ju­nior men from across the coun­try who gath­ered in Ed­mon­ton for last week­end’s event and with that top-18 re­sult Ham­pole has qual­i­fied for the Cana­dian Tire na­tional skat­ing cham­pi­onships for the third straight year.

“My main goal was to qual­ify for Cana­di­ans again this year and I did that, and ev­ery­thing af­ter that came as a bonus,” said Ham­pole. “It was al­ways in the back of my mind that I wanted to be in the top 10 but I was mainly fo­cused on lay­ing out two solid pro­grams that would get me to move on to Cana­di­ans.”

Ham­pole be­gan his sixth Skate Canada Chal­lenge and se­cond as a ju­nior skater last Satur­day with his best per­for­mance of the sea­son when he posted an eighth­place score of 52.6 with the short pro­gram.

In his free skate on Sun­day, Ham­pole wasn’t quite so flaw­less and he ended up with the 10th-best score of the day (87.44 points) and fin­ished 11th over­all.

“I had a re­ally good short, al­most a clean skate with no falls, and I was re­ally happy with it,” said Ham­pole. “It’s a newer pro­gram and the song is Sign of the Times by Harry Styles and I’m re­ally happy with that per­for­mance.”

Ham­pole landed three of his four triples in his free skate. The one that’s given him the most dif­fi­culty, a triple flip, proved elu­sive for him in Ed­mon­ton.

“I had one fall but ev­ery­thing else was done re­ally nicely,” he said. “There are still some things I wish I’d done bet­ter but it’s still a great step­ping block for the Cana­di­ans for the long. The triple-flip is usu­ally one of my best jumps in prac­tice but it’s a new el­e­ment for me and un­der pres­sure it’s been a bit tough. In the short I landed it re­ally nicely.”

His free skate in­cludes two triple Lutzes, one triple-flip, two tripleloops and two dou­ble-Ax­els.

Ham­pole’s to­tal score of 139.82 was not a per­sonal best. The judg­ing sys­tem has been re­vamped this sea­son and skaters are be­ing marked slightly lower than in pre­vi­ous years. But he fig­ures both his per­for­mances in Ed­mon­ton were bet­ter than a few weeks ago at the Su­per Series B.C. Yukon sec­tion cham­pi­onships in Co­quit­lam, where he fin­ished third.

The two ju­nior men who fin­ished ahead of him – sec­tion cham­pion Alexa Rakis of Burn­aby and Beres Cle­ments of Gib­sons – fin­ished fourth and third re­spec­tively at Skate Canada Chal­lenge. Al­is­tair Lam of Hamil­ton won the gold medal and Jack Dushen­ski of Toronto was the sil­ver medal­ist.

A back in­jury that’s been both­er­ing Ham­pole most of the year re­fused to go away and has cur­tailed his train­ing. He’s still re­ceiv­ing phys­io­ther­apy and he’s hop­ing his pain will di­min­ish as he gears up for the big­gest com­pe­ti­tion of the sea­son.

“I’m still in­jured,” he said. “Right be­fore my long pro­gram I had to make some mod­i­fi­ca­tions just be­cause I was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing pain in my back. Mov­ing for­ward af­ter Chal­lenge, I’ll be in re­hab for a while and I’m still on the ice but I’m re­duc­ing my load and hope­fully that will help me out.”

Coached by Rory Allen and An­drea Lud­ditt, Ham­pole will have about a month to fine tune be­fore he packs his bags for the Cana­dian Tire na­tional cham­pi­onships in Saint John, N.B., Jan. 13-20. He’ll have a cou­ple days to ad­just to the four-hour time change be­fore he skates his short pro­gram on Jan. 14.

The ju­nior men’s free pro­gram is sched­uled for Jan. 16.

Last year, as a first-year ju­nior, Ham­pole fin­ished 14th at na­tion­als. Be­cause of his Au­gust birth­day, which falls af­ter the June 30th cut­off, he’s el­i­gi­ble to com­pete as a ju­nior skater for three more years.

“My goal is def­i­nitely top 10,” he said. “I’m just go­ing to con­tinue my train­ing and keep do­ing what I have been do­ing this sea­son and I think it will go re­ally well if I just do that. I think we’re set on a good plan right now.”

Ham­pole be­gan his sixth Skate Canada Chal­lenge and se­cond as a ju­nior skater last Satur­day with his best per­for­mance of the sea­son...


Prince Ge­orge fig­ure skater Justin Ham­pole com­petes in the long pro­gram at last year’s na­tional cham­pi­onships in Van­cou­ver.

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