When Franz-Peter Jerosch takes the ice Monday at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, he will be doing so with his fourth partner in four years.

This time, said the Yarmouth teenager, she’s a keeper.

“I guess it took me a while to really find someone that I could really connect with,” Jerosch said of 14-year-old Jade Hom of Southborough, Massachusetts. “Someone with the right skating style, and off the ice as well. None of the (previous) partnerships were bad in any way. They just, well, it just took me a while to find the right match.”

Jerosch, 16, and Hom will compete Monday and Tuesday in novice pairs in San Jose, California. The trip marks the fifth national championship competition for Jerosch, who won silver in juvenile pairs with Julia Curran of Westbrook two years ago in Minnesota and silver again in intermediate pairs with Jade Esposito of Newton, Massachusetts, last winter in Missouri.

In 2015, Jerosch paired with another girl from Southborough, Lindsey Stevenson. They placed eighth in juvenile pairs in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Hom spins clockwise on her jumps, the same as Jerosch. Esposito, now paired with a senior partner, spins counterclockwise, which factored into the breakup.

“Switching of partners is not uncommon at the developmental stage,” said Bobby Martin, head coach and co-director at Skate Pairs in Boxborough, Massachusetts. “It’s a rare story that you find a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old who stick with it all the way through.”

Martin has worked with Jerosch for five years, watching the freckle-faced redhead grow from “a tiny little tyke” to a 6-foot-2, 170-pound athlete.

“He’s skating with a new body every three months,” Martin said. “He’s done an amazing job of managing it, and handling the coordination and balance.”

Jerosch and Hom have practiced together since February. The only levels above novice are junior and senior. The senior level in San Jose will be the last qualifying event before the Olympics in South Korea.

Based on results from the past year, the United States performed well enough to earn three Olympic entries in men’s singles, ladies’ singles and ice dance, but only one in pairs.

Any Olympic possibilities are at least four years away for Jerosch, but he’s approaching the point where the Team USA Envelope criteria are becoming possibilities, bringing the potential for funding and international competition.

Team USA has four envelopes (A, B, C, D) that include two tiers apiece as well as a reserve envelope.

Skaters who place among the top three nationally at the novice level qualify for Envelope D, Tier 2.

“We haven’t been stressing about it,” Jerosch said, “but it has been in the back of our minds. It would be awesome.”

Jerosch and Hom won the Eastern sectionals in November in Boxborough, Massachusetts, with a score of 113.81 points over a field of five novice pairs. That score would have won the Pacific Coast sectionals but placed fourth in the Midwest, although scores vary among judges.

“It’s really hard to compare competition to competition,” said Martin, their coach. “Instead of worrying what other scores were at a particular events, we work on being prepared and scoring the most points we can at any event we go to. It’s not because the quality is that much higher in the Midwest. I think everybody should be afraid of Jade and Franz, quite frankly.”

Moving up a level from intermediate to novice allowed Jerosch to incorporate more challenging maneuvers into his short and long programs.

“Nothing too crazy in the program this year,” he said. “We’re mainly focused on the skating quality and presenting ourselves the best we can.”

Jerosch and Hom will skate a short program of 2 minutes, 50 seconds to an instrumental version of the One Direction song, “The Story of My Life,” performed by The Piano Guys. Their free skate is a 3:40 affair to parts of three songs from the Disney movie, “Pocahontas.”

They plan to include a star lift and a double twist – “I throw her and she spins two times and then there’s a catch” – in each program.

To train five days a week in Boxborough, Jerosch stopped attending Yarmouth High and enrolled instead in Maine Connections Academy for online classwork.

He usually stays in Massachusetts with a family friend Monday through Wednesday and commutes from Yarmouth on Thursday and Friday. Earning his driver’s license in April simplified travel logistics.

“I think our main goal is just to give a strong, clean performance and demonstrate our skating quality,” Jerosch said. “We definitely don’t have the (highest-scoring) elements. It’s not worth the risk. We know we can score high with the elements we have as long as we demonstrate them well.”

Martin said he has long-standing relationships with folks in U.S. Figure Skating, the country’s governing body for the sport.

“They’re keeping a close eye on these two,” Martin said. “Our goal is to have a top senior team.”

 

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