Joshua Farris had just embarrassed himself on the ice.
Then, he took a seat away from everybody inside Osaka’s Namihaya Dome, but next to his coach, and watched the rest of the NHK Trophy competition Nov. 29.
Farris was the first to perform in the free skate at the Grand Prix series event that day. He finished in last place of 11 men with 169.88 total points, a distant 26.34 behind the man in 10th.
Farris fell three times, put his hands down on jumps twice and singled four jumps over the course of two programs in Osaka. He covered his mouth as he exited the ice following his free skate, amid sympathetic applause and into a consolatory hug from coach Damon Allen.
“I never want this to happen again,” Farris said. “Ever.”
That, Farris said, was the moment that propelled him to today. Farris is arguably the best U.S. men’s hope for a medal at the World Championships in Shanghai next week.
“I kind of had to grow up a little bit,” Farris said. “I think there were still some things I was being very immature about, training-wise. Not that I didn’t respect the sport before, but I had to gain even more respect for it.”
He started taking it more seriously, such as running through his programs twice per day, instead of just once.
Farris picked himself up after the NHK disaster to finish third at the U.S. Championships in January, earning his first Worlds berth. The next month, Farris was the top U.S. man at the Four Continents Championships in Seoul, taking silver.
“I got my name out there, internationally,” Farris said.
The soft-spoken Washington native has always had the goods — he took 2012 World Junior Championships silver, and then gold the following year. Now, at 20, he’s delivering as a senior skater for the first time.
Still, he speaks with a sports psychologist and coaches to work on self-confidence.
“I’m new to being in the top maybe 10, or whatever, I don’t know,” Farris said. “I think, eventually, give me like a year or so, and I will be fighting for that podium just as hard as [the medal favorites] are, just the same as they are.”
Farris broke a skate blade after Four Continents and needed new boots, so he will not perform a quadruple jump in his short program at Worlds.
“I would like to go in confident and feeling ready, just as the same as Nationals and Four Continents, so we decided to take the quad toe [loop] out,” he said.
That’s hardly quelling his ambition for next week. Farris and countrymen Jason Brown and Adam Rippon will be counted on to keep three spots for the U.S. men for next year’s Worlds in Boston. To do that, two of their finishes in Shanghai must be equal to or better than 13 (sixth and seventh, for example).
“My expectations for myself are extremely high, and, honestly, almost unreachable and impossible,” Farris said, “because I expect myself to be perfect.”