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The competition got going Friday night in Boston and saw at least half of the 19-skater field either wobble, stumble or flat out fall during their routines.
It wasn't all Keystone Kops, however, as four of the final six skaters performed well enough to reach the top six and put themselves within striking distance of the coveted Olympic team berths.
Here are the top six skaters who will compete last in Sunday's free skate program.
Jeremy Abbott, 99.86
The 28-year-old from Colorado sat and watched the collective mediocrity from his perch as skater No. 15 of the night, then went out and established himself as the clear man to beat come Sunday night with the highest short program score ever recorded in a U.S. national championship event.
Richard Dornbush, 92.04
Were it not for Abbott's late-night mastery, the skate put out there by the 22-year-old Californian in the early stages of the competition would have been the headline-grabber. The long, lithe youngster made it look effortless while racking up his personal-best short program numbers.
Jason Brown, 87.47
The pony-tailed Prince fan revved up his outfit, complete with "The Artist's" former symbol on the back, then toned down the choreography while choosing to concentrate on doing the basic elements and doing them well. It'll probably take an all-or-nothing free skate to earn the Olympic slot.
Max Aaron, 86.95
The defending national champion worked the crowd with up-tempo music and nailed his lone attempt at a quad, but wasn't rewarded by the judges to the extent that his other three high-end colleagues were. He may have the most climbing potential if he turns in another error-free effort Sunday.
Joshua Farris, 78.37
Ice Network color analyst Michael Weiss wasn't stingy with the descriptive phases for many of Friday's competitors, but the best he could come up with for the reigning world junior champion was "solid." "It was unfortunate for him that Jeremy Abbott skated the program of a lifetime," Weiss said.
Adam Rippon, 77.58
The most consistent U.S. skater of the season during the Grand Prix events leading up to the pre-Olympic audition, Rippon eschewed a quad for a triple lutz, then hit the ice hard upon failing to land a triple axel moments later. He'll need a wave of opponent stumbles to near an Olympic berth.