Reports by Lindsay Higgins

Senior Free Dance

The last portion of the Championship Dance event did not have a surprising result but was exciting just the same. The top six teams finished in the same order in which they placed for the Original Dance. Lydia Manon and Ryan O’Meara’s free dance to “Cabaret” kept them in sixth place, despite their eighth-place finish in the compulsory. The program was fun, and they expressed it nicely. This team has strong dance spins and good lifts. Their marks ranged from 4.5 to 5.0 for technical merit and required elements, and from 4.8 to 5.2 for presentation.

Finishing fifth in all three portions of the competition were Christie Moxley and Aleksandr Kirsanov of the University of Delaware. Wearing black and white, they skated another fun free dance to a Charlie Chaplin theme. Kirsanov in particular does an excellent job of staying in character throughout the program. The audience appeared to enjoy it immensely. They showed good speed through the fast sections of the dance, and good stamina as well- most of the program was to the fast music. If they can up their difficulty even slightly, they could challenge for the fourth spot next year.

Medaling as Seniors for the first time were Kendra Goodwin and Brent Bommentre, also from the University of Delaware. Dressed in black with subtle red undertones, they pulled off their dramatic free dance to “Assassination Tango” and “Libertango” well, despite usually having a very bubbly, perky style. The tricky circular footwork and smooth lifts were the highlights of this free dance. Marks for them were mainly in the low fives, with one 4.5 and one 4.9, for technical merit, and between 5.1 and 5.6 for presentation. The pewter medal was well-deserved.

Placing third were last year’s pewter medallists, Loren Galler-Rabinowitz and David Mitchell from the SC of Boston. They also performed a Tango, and they too pulled off the style well. Their interpretation was more sultry and dramatic than that of Goodwin and Bommentre, with lots of intense eye contact between the two partners. Like in the OD, their level of difficulty was impressive, particularly in the lifts. While smaller dancers may appear to lack extension in comparison to taller skaters, there’s no denying that the 5’1” Galler-Rabinowitz and the 5’8” Mitchell can and did complete some of the most impressive lifts of the competition. Their technique marks were between 4.9 and 5.3, with the presentation marks ranging from 5.2 to 5.6.

As expected, Melissa Gregory and Dennis Petukhov placed second, and it was announced Saturday that they will be making their first trip to the World Championships in March. Their free dance, set to Bach’s “Tocatta and Fugue” and “Air On A G String” earned marks of 5.2 to 5.6 for technical merit, and 5.6 to 5.8 for presentation. They have nice knees and a pretty, soft style, both of which Nikolai Morozov and Shae-Lynn Bourne took advantage of when choreographing this program. Their white costumes, fading to gray, completed the look.

Winning the free dance, and their first national title, were Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto of the DSC. Igor Shpilband has again come up with a real crowd-pleaser of a program. Only one small error occured, as Agosto stepped out of a twizzle. Their speed, flow, and power are among the best in the world, and the judges’ scores reflected not only this but the level of difficulty as well: Belbin and Agosto received scores of 5.7 and 5.8, with one 5.9, for technical merit, and two 5.8’s with the rest 5.9’s for expression. A medal at Worlds doesn’t seem likely for this team- not quite yet- but it is by no means out of the question.