Novice skaters in the 1990 U.S. Figure Skating Championships can relax and take a deep breath - their competition is officially over.

Figures competition for the novice men and womenwas completed Tuesday. Thursday afternoon's competition consisted of the free skating program.Fifteen-year-old Farmington resident Clay Sniteman, who finished second in the figures and is one of only two local competitors, hoped that skating in front of a mostly Utah crowd might be an advantage. It wasn't. He finished 15th in a field of 18.

"He wanted to do his best in front of the home crowd," Clay's mother, Nita, said. "But this was just one of those bad days. Every skater has them. I don't think he was pleased."

"Bad isn't exactly the word for it," said Clay following his performance.

Although Sniteman hit a solid double axel in the brief warm-up before his performance, he missed the jump during the three-minute program, and fell once. "He also skated slow," his mother noted. "He just wasn't himself."

Part of the problem, according to Nita Sniteman, is that Clay has grown several inches in the last few months and needs time to adjust to the change. "But he was pleased with his figures," she noted. "And he's already looking forward to the future."

Most of the novice men were plagued with falls during the free skating programs. Twelve of the participants hit the ice, with another couple coming close. However, Ryan Hunka of Parma Heights, Calif., pulled off a fall-free program and came away with the novice men free skating championship. John Frederiksen, who also skates in championship pairs, placed second, and Eric Bohnstedt finished third.

In novice women free skating, Lisa Ervin from Lakewood, Ohio, won the championship. Joanna Ng, Woodland Hills, Calif., finished second, and Victoria Pietrasik from Northbrook, Ill., placed third.

In the first round of competition for the junior pairs, Tristen Vega and Richard Alexander skated well enough to earn a solid first place ranking. Aimee Offner and Brian Helgenberg followed in second place, with Susan Purdy and Scott Chiamulera third.

The junior pairs will skate in the second and final round of competition, the free skating program, Saturday morning at 10:30.