Reports by Lindsay Higgins

Senior Compulsory Dance
One of the most exciting Championship Dance events in recent memory got underway with the Ravensburger Waltz Tuesday night. Finishing sixth in the field of twelve were Kendra Goodwin and Brent Bommentre, of the University of Delaware and the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society. They have nice flow over the ice, as well as good waltz expression and more personality than many skater, but their speed and power are just shy of what the top teams here were demonstrating. Their marks were mostly in the high 4’s, with two 5.0’s for technique and a 5.1 and a 5.2 for timing and expression.

Recent Skate America competitors Christie Moxley and Aleksandre Kirsanov were fifth in this section. Wearing orange and purple (her) and white (him) costumes once used by 2002 World Champions Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh, with whom they share a coach, the only questionable moment in the dance was when they came close to the boards on the first twizzle. Their marks for technique ranged from 4.7 to 5.0, with marks of 4.8 to 5.2 for timing and expression.

Finishing fourth were the 2003 pewter medallists , Loren Galler-Rabinowitz and David Mitchell of the SC of Boston. They had nice waltz expression, which was enhanced by their costumes- a stunning pink dress deepening to red on the skirt, and elegant tux with tails. The SC of Boston teams are known for having good compulsories, and these two are no exception. In addition to their expression and knee action, they have excellent extension- especially considering their height (she’s 5’1”, he’s 5’8”). Aside from a 3.9 for technique that seemed to come out of nowhere, their marks were between 4.7 and 5.2 for technique, and 4.7 and 5.4 for timing and expression.

As expected, Melissa Gregory and Dennis Petukhov placed third in the compulsories. They continue to show the benefits of their relocation to Nikolai Morozov’s stable of dancers over the summer. Their Ravensburger was very precise and flowy, with nice extension, and they were able to stay quite close together through the changes of hold- something many of the bottom teams were struggling with.

Finishing second on an 8-1 split were five-time U.S. Champions Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev. After taking several months off, Lang decided at the last minute that she did want to compete this year, despite popular consensus that they would most likely place behind three-time silver medallists Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto. Known for good compulsories, the lack of training didn’t seem to affect them here. The Ravensburger was an excellent vehicle for them to demonstrate their deep edges and soft knees, both of which seem to be continuing to improve. Like their rinkmates Gregory and Petukhov, Lang and Tchernyshev showed nice even flow through the changes of hold. Most striking, however, was the joy on their faces- they clearly want to be doing this, and were beaming as fans shouted support. Their marks were in the 5.5-5.7 range for technique, and 5.6-5.8 for timing and expression. The judges left the door wide open for Belbin and Agosto, who took full advantage. Indeed, the winners of the compulsories were this year’s Skate America champions, Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto of the Detroit SC. It was a close competition- while Belbin and Agosto had the best speed and flow, Lang and Tchernyshev appeared to have slightly more raw power and more waltz-like knee action. In the end, Belbin and Agosto’s scores were only marginally higher than those of Lang and Tchernyshev for technique- all 5.6 and 5.7- and in the 5.7-5.9 range for timing and expression. All in all, an exciting event that set the stage for an exciting OD an hour later.