Jeremy Abbott entered the US Figure Skating Championships looking to show that he is still on top of his game, and the 28-year-old did just that Friday night with a record-setting performance in the senior men’s short program at TD Garden.
The defending US bronze medalist and 2010 Olympian led off the fourth group with a very impressive showing that brought the crowd to its feet. Abbott received a record score of 99.86, reclaiming his own short-program mark that had been eclipsed by Richard Dornbush earlier in the evening.
“My goal here this week was to come and just keep it business and just get the job done,” Abbott said. “I have done a third of my job so far and I have two-thirds still to go, but I have a lot of confidence in the free program, and I’m so happy with how the short program went.
“This is my last US Championships, so when I went out to skate I thought to myself, ‘Just enjoy it all, enjoy the energy, and enjoy the crowd,’ and I did.”
Dornbush, who last medaled at the US Championships in 2011, came out firing as the second skater of the evening and gunned his way to a 92.04, breaking the record of 90.23 set by Abbott in 2012. Dornbush finished in second place, leading until Abbott surpassed him with four skaters to go.
“My whole frame of mind coming into this US Championships was just to be aggressive and to not allow myself to hold back at all, and I was really happy that I was able to stay down on my knees and calm while I was at it,” Dornbush said. “I definitely had a lot of pressure on myself for the opening quad, and then after that everything just sort of fell into place, so to say that I’m happy is an understatement.”
Rising star Jason Brown ended the second group of the evening with an 87.47 and finished in third.
“I was really excited about the way I skated,” Brown said. “I’ve trained really, really hard and I put out a performance the way I’ve been training, so that’s all I can ask for. Every time I go out I try to beat my personal best, and that’s what I was able to do today.”
Reigning US champion Max Aaron, who was an elite hockey player until age 16, when a severe back injury forced him to leave the game, skated a solid program as well, but did not receive any favors from the judges and was given an 86.95, placing him fourth.
Boston’s Ross Miner, the 2013 US silver medalist, had one issue on one jump and that was enough to knock his score down to 71.94. He finished in eighth. Wakefield native Stephen Carriere (64.42) was 12th.
Olympic representatives will be announced following the men’s free skate program Sunday afternoon.
. . .
Five-time defending US ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White started off their quest for title No. 6 Friday with a sensational performance in the short dance at TD Garden, blowing away the competition with a score of 80.69 to set a record for the national championships.
“We’re really happy with our skate today,” White said. “It wasn’t 100 percent perfect, but it was definitely the best we’ve skated so far.
“I think emotionally we felt really comfortable embodying those characters, which is what we’ve been working really hard on since the Grand Prix final, so I think we’re really proud of that.
“As always, we feel like there’s room to grow, but again, really pleased with our skate today.”
Madison Chock and Evan Bates, the silver medalists in this competition last year, put on an excellent program, drawing loud applause from the Garden crowd. They scored 73.41 and vaulted into first place temporarily — until Davis and White outscored them by more than 7 points. Chock and Bates settled for second on the day.
Bates, an Olympian in 2010 with Emily Samuelson, was forced to sit out the 2010-11 season with an Achilles’ tendon injury but has rekindled his career with Chock and is hoping to make it back to the Winter Games in Sochi next month.
“The injury I sustained back in 2010 was difficult to overcome,” said Bates. “With that, everything in my skating career changed quite a bit. I feel like having experienced that, it’s given me a great perspective on being an eligible athlete. Being able to do this, I’m very grateful.
“I realized as an athlete it’s easy to take for granted the opportunities that we have and it’s easy to feel almost invincible until you get injured, and once your health is taken away, you realize that’s your livelihood as an athlete.”
Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani, who won bronze at the 2013 US championships, skated a strong program and scored a 68.00, finishing the day in third place.
“Maia and I are obviously thrilled to be here,” said Alex Shibutani, a Boston native. “[Having] the national championships in Boston is so special for us, and especially in an Olympic year, that just increases our excitement.
“We left some points on the table, I think it’s fair to say, so we’re disappointed about that, but if you look at the program as a whole, we are very excited with how we performed.
“The energy level was really strong and the crowd was amazing. For a Friday afternoon, the TD Garden being so full really benefited all the skaters, so Maia and I are really looking forward to showing what we’ve got tomorrow.”
The dance pairs will return to the ice Saturday afternoon for the free dance, after which the medalists will be decided. The nominees for the US Olympic team will be announced Sunday.