BOSTON - Broadmoor Skating Club members Max Aaron and Joshua Farris had to overcome the distraction of competing immediately after Jeremy Abbott's jaw-dropping performance in the men's short program of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Abbott scored a record-setting 99.86, which inspired a thunderous response from the crowd and lifted him into big lead in the competition.
Farris was the next competitor.
"I wasn't really nervous going after him because I look up to Jeremy so much," Farris said. "He's very important to me, and I admire him so much. It kind of calmed me down. I thought, 'If he can do it, I can do it.' "
Farris scored 78.37, which places him fifth heading into Sunday's free skate.
Aaron followed Farris, and scored 86.95, which leaves him slightly behind Jason Brown, who is in third place with an 87.47 score.
"The long program is what separates the men from the boys. That's what I always say," Aaron said immediately after his performance. "I'm going to skate my skate and see where I will land."
Broadmoor competitor Brandon Mroz is in ninth place with a 70.57 score. His score dropped when he struggled on an axel jump early in his program.
"Frustrated would probably be the right word," Mroz said. "I opened up with a great quad triple, and normally I always back it up. Everything after that is simple. I've been doing the axel since I was 7.
"That's what I'm upset about. I think it would have been a great performance tonight, one of those ones that you really stand up for, and I needed to back it up with that axel. I was swinging for the fences on it, and you don't do that with an axel."
Lukas Kaugars, another Broadmoor competitor, is in 11th place with a 64.57 score.
Davis-White, Abbott win short programs
Abbott's second Olympic berth is within reach.
He won the event, shattering his own mark of 90.23. He has a 7.82-point margin over Richard Dornbush heading into Sunday's free skate.
The top two men will go to Sochi next month. Abbott was the 2010 U.S. champ, but finished ninth at the Vancouver Games as countryman Evan Lysacek won gold.
Earlier, world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White danced within range of their sixth straight U.S. title by romping in the short dance. Indeed, the current world champions and 2010 Olympic silver medalists could have danced all night and never been caught.
The free dance is Saturday.
Skating to selections from "My Fair Lady," Davis and White broke their own record with 80.69 points to build more than a seven-point lead on Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani were third; three teams will go to Sochi.
"This is the first time we felt comfortable enough to let things happen naturally," Davis said.