Reports by Lindsay Higgins

Novice Compulsory Dances
Novice dance was, in a word, interesting. While Lake Placid would have lead one to believe that the competition would be extremely close between Blake Rosenthal and Calvin Taylor (SC of Wilmington) and Kaitlyn Weaver and Charles Clavey, (Charter Oak SC, Texas Gulf Coast FSC) with a possible challenge from Isabella Cannuscio and Kyle Herring (University of Delaware), not all of the judges saw it as such. Weaver and Clavey were the clear winner of the first dance, the Tango, with 3 first- and two second-place ordinals, while Rosenthal and Taylor were second with a first, three seconds, and a third. Both teams displayed good knee action and timing; Weaver and Clavey’s edge could have come in a couple of places, possibly spacing (they skated nice and close together) or depth. Cannuscio and Herring had four thirds and a first to place third in the Tango. They have nice expression and speed, but slightly less raw power than the top two teams, maybe because they’re physically smaller. Brooke Frieling and Buck Withrow (SC of Boston) placed fourth in the Tango, beating Cathy and Chris Reed (SC of Morris) three judges to two. These two teams would remain in a tight competition for that fourth spot at Nationals throughout the competition.

The second dance, the Kilian, is where the judging got confusing. Ok, bewildering. Rosenthal and Taylor won with ordinals of first (one), second (three), and fourth (one). And that was one of the more clear-cut decisions. This is a team with the ability to maintain edges with good speed. Weaver and Clavey, who have a huge pattern but manage not to sacrifice the depth of their lobes, placed third with two judges putting them first, one third, and one fourth. As if this wasn’t weird enough (I’m curious as to what the judge placing them fourth saw that he/she didn’t like), the remaining judge had them ninth of nine teams. Cannuscio and Herring were second, with two first-places and three thirds- because of their speed, this is a good dance for them- and the Reeds were fourth this time, with two third-places and three fourths. Frieling and Withrow had four fifth-place ordinals, and one eighth. Interestingly, Rosenthal and Taylor’s fourth-place ordinal, Weaver and Clavey’s ninth, one of Cannuscio and Herring’s firsts, one of the Reed’s thirds, and Frieling and Withrow’s eighth all came from the same judge, who also had the sixth-place team ranked second. Not only was this the talk of the dancers at Sectionals, by Friday people were apparently discussing it at Midwesterns as well!

With both dances combined, the results were roughly what they should have been, but it had to have been discouraging for certain teams going into the free dance.


Novice Free Dance
Despite- or perhaps because of- judging irregularities in the compulsory dances, the Novice teams appeared to go into the free dance ready to skate their hearts out, and they did. Skating to “Mask of Zorro”, Rosenthal and Taylor won the free dance three judges to two (the other judges had them second and third). They do well with the Spanish style, a big step up maturity-wise for them this year, and they maintain good unison and speed throughout.

Weaver and Clavey placed second in the free dance with a majority of second-place ordinals (one judge had them third) and second overall. Their free dance, to the soundtrack of the French movie “Amelie”, was arguably the most sophisticated program in the field, with nice flow even through the more difficult sections. It was nice to see a team at this level using a piece of music that’s not only well-suited to skating but isn’t commonly used (although Summersett and Pennington used a different section of the same soundtrack to place second in Junior Dance). Their presentation is excellent, and their height, especially compared to their competitors, allows for beautiful extension.

A split panel put Isabella Cannuscio and Kyle Herring in third place- three judges had them there, with the other two placing them first. Those two judges obviously value speed, because that is definitely this team’s strong point. The program was slightly less difficult than those of the top two teams, allowing them to really present it rather than simply skating it. Overall it was a solid performance, especially considering that this is their first year in Novice.

The fourth spot at Nationals came down not only to one performance, but to one judge. Brooke Frieling and Buck Withrow and Cathy and Chris Reed were tied for fourth place going into the free dance, Frieling and Withrow having won the Tango and the Reeds having won the Kilian. It was a close competition that could have gone either way on any given day. On this particular day, the Reeds had a small problem on one of their twizzles in their “Libertango” free dance that resulted in Frieling and Withrow receiving three fourth-place ordinals to the Reeds’ two. It was a valiant effort by a team that has improved by leaps and bounds since placing tenth out of twelve in this event last year. Frieling and Withrow, seventh at last year’s Junior Nationals in Intermediate Dance, skated a fun free dance to the theme from James Bond. While it was a different kind of program than what most of their competitors did, they captured the characters well.