Reports by Lindsay Higgins

Senior Original Dance
An exciting Championship Original Dance was marred only by the withdrawal of five-time U.S. Champions Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev. After finishing second in the compulsories, Tchernyshev took a fall in the OD warm up, either tripping over or otherwise jarring Lang’s previously injured ankle. They finished the warm up, but as their names were being called to skate, a clearly shaken Lang skated over to the referee and withdrew the team. The season, unfortunately, is most likely over for this team.

Winning the OD by a fairly wide margin were 2003 Silver Medallists Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto. Their quick, energetic free dance to “Five Months, Two Weeks, Two Days”, “Give Me Some Money Too”, and “Hey Pachuco!” was well-received, with a huge round of applause from the audience and marks of 5.6 to 5.9 from the judges. This OD is definitely among the best in the world, as evidenced both here and by their win at Skate America in October.

Moving up to second in the absence of Lang and Tchernyshev were their rinkmates in Newington, Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov. Their OD, set to “Rock Around The Clock”, “Harlem Nocturne”, and “Great Balls of Fire”, shows a nice increase in their speed since last year. Their connection with each other on the ice is also noticeable; Gregory, in particular, expresses these rhythms well. Barring disaster in the free dance, they will likely earn their first trip to Worlds here. The program earned scores of 5.1 to 5.6.

Wearing red and silver, Loren Galler-Rabinowitz and David Mitchell of the SC of Boston moved from fourth place into third after the OD. Skating to an instrumental Blues and “If The House Is A-Rockin”, these two have nice flow, especially through the Blues section, and maintained equally nice expression through two very different pieces of music. Toward the end of their OD, they performed one lift that’s very difficult to describe: she went from being draped over his shoulder to sliding down his back headfirst toward the ice, using her hands on his hips to propel herself between his legs and back to her feet. Needless to say, this drew a huge gasp from the audience. Both sets of marks ranged from 5.2 to 5.4, with one 5.1 for composition.

The movement in the standings below third place was more significant than is normal in the dance event. Kendra Goodwin and Brent Bommentre, training at the University of Delaware, moved from sixth after the compulsory to fourth overall after finishing fourth in the OD. This team has personality in spades, and this year’s OD rhythms suited them well. Skating to “Stormy Monday” and Whoo-Whee Sweet Daddy”, and wearing black and fluorescent red, they showed good speed and quick, difficult changes of hold. The size difference between the two isn’t great, but they don’t seem to struggle noticeably because of it. Goodwin and Bommentre received marks of 4.6 to 5.0 for composition, but their marks for presentation were deservedly higher- 4.8 up to 5.4.

Placing fifth in the OD and compulsory were another Delaware team, Christie Moxley and Aleksandre Kirsanov. Wearing neon red and black costumes that were, again, worn previously by Lobacheva and Averbukh, the team coached by Natalia Linichuk skated to “Bye Bye Johnny”, “Only You”, and “Rock Around The Clock”. Their first section seemed a bit slow, but they have nice precise footwork and good lifts and expression. They also have nice extension, particularly through the Blues section in the middle of the program. Their composition marks ranged from 4.6 to 5.1, with presentation marks from 4.8 to 5.3. The choreography in this program is interesting and well-suited to the music.

Finishing sixth in this section and moving to sixth overall were Lydia Manon and Ryan O’Meara, training with Igor Shpilband in Detroit. Like Goodwin and Bommentre, they made a jump of two places from the compulsory section. Wearing the most unusual costumes of the competition- her dress is yellow darkening to orange with a red design across the shoulder and down the front- they skated to “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” and “Sing Sing”. This is another team that’s fairly close in size, but they manage to pull off the lifts better than one might expect. Their fast section had several nice changes of hold, done quickly and smoothly, and they show nice edging and extension through the slow section. Their marks were mostly in the 4.8-5.2 range, with one 4.6 and one 4.7 for composition.