COMPULSORY DANCES

Compulsory dances started Charlie White’s busy day as he and Meryl Davis (right) took the lead in the junior ice dancing event with first place finishes in both the Austrian Waltz and Paso Doble, scoring 35.42. Davis and White missed last season’s championships due to an injury to White which kept them from competing at a qualifying event (sectionals).

The team changed coaches after last season and now work with Igor Shpilband in Canton, Michigan. White is also a singles skater who is competing here this week in the junior men’s event. Davis and White are also skilled in the classroom. Although they took this season off from school, they will attend University of Michigan next fall.

Their waltz was light and airy and they presented the paso fiercely and with a feel of confidence. Clearly, they were the winners.

In second place, Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, the 2005 U.S. Novice Champions, skated a smooth and flowy waltz and a strong, expressive paso doble. In the post-event press area, Bates admitted that they let their coaches worry about the scores, while he and Samuelson focus on their skating. They are both excited to be competing here in St. Louis. Samuelson and Bates finished second in both dances with a score of 15.97 for the Austrian Waltz and 17.05 for the paso doble for a total of 33.02.

Jane Summersett and Elliot Pennington finished third, but disagreed on which dance they skated better. Summersett felt the waltz was their better performance, while Pennington said, the paso doble. The judges scored their waltz with 15.21 and the paso with 16.82 – evidently the paso was better. Both agreed that the level of competition at this event is very high.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Charles Clavey rounded out the top four skating two consistent compulsory dances. Weaver and Clavey are the 2005 novice silver medalists in ice dancing and have continued to progress under coach Mathew Gates.

The field at this event is very deep and competitive. To give an idea of just how competitive, Kimmerly Lauten and Augie Hill, the 2005 U.S. bronze medalists at the junior level, are currently in fifth place. The scores are all very close and the standings may shift in the next two phases.

ORIGINAL DANCE

The Junior Original Dance event took place at Family Arena, where 2004 silver medallists Meryl Davis and Charlie White continued to distance themselves from the rest of the pack skating to “Ran Kan Kan – En Los Pasos de mi Padre” by Tito Puente for the mambo and Besame Mucho for their rhumba. They scored 31.31 for TES a nd 26.75 for PCS for a total of 58.06. White spent the first few days of the week juggling his practices and events for junior ice dancing and mens.

In second place, Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, the 2005 US Novice Champions, skated an expressive cha cha and rhumba scoring 51.07 for their original dance. They skated close together and in synch in their footwork sequence. A highlight lift had Samuelson in a pretzel position and their combination spin included Samuelson in a Biellmann position. The choreographers of this program really know how to maximize the code of points, while making the program interesting to watch for the audience and the team knows how to relate to the music and sell it.

Third place after the compulsories was Summersett and Pennington who scored 48.14, but had a deduction of -1 presumably for a lift that looked like it was held too long. It was great to see this team back in top form for their performance.

Finishing fourth in the original dance, and moving up to sixth overall, was the new team of Elizabeth Miosi and Dmitry Ponomarev (left) who are coached by Elena Garanina in Ashburn, Virginia. Miosi and Ponomarev skated to mambo and samba rhythms and were one of the most expressive teams on the ice. Every team has a rhythm that they skate the best and I believe the latin rhythms suit this team. They had excellent unison in the straightline sequence and performed with a lot of energy and flair. They scored 43.78.

Kimmerly Lauten and Augie Hill finished fifth in the original dance, holding on to their position from the compulsories. Their music, “Mambo Jumbo” and “Beautiful Maria of My Soul” were good choices for them. Their skating was very smooth and Lauten has grown in this partnership to be more expressive. They scored 43.43.

Fourth overall was Kaitlyn Weaver and Charles Clavey. The 2005 US Novice silver medallists had nice positions on their combination spin and lifts, but a stumble in the corner cost them a -1 deduction and dropped them to sixth in the original dance. Their original dance was different than most at the event. The interpretation was more modern as a result of attending latin ballroom dances with coach Eve Chalom. It was refreshing to see something a little bit different.

Pilar Bosley and John Corona were seventh. Bosley came down with an illness the night before the original (and free) dance which hampered their performance. The team was gutsy and gained respect from the audience with their performance scoring 41.28 to music by Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. Bosley was not sure how she caught the flu-like illness (but by the end of the week many others had fallen prey to it).

Eighth in the original dance was 2005 Novice bronze medallists Blake Rosenthal and Calvin Taylor. Rosenthal (left) also kept busy this week doing dual disciplines, competing in novice ladies where she won the silver medal. The team skated to “Cuban Pete”, “Whatever Lola Wants” and “Boom Boom” and the program had matured since its debut at Lake Placid last August and contained many highlight elements. They scored 39.35.

Finishing in ninth, but remaining in tenth overall, was hometown girl Mauri Gustafson and her partner Logan Giulietti-Schmitt. The program contained distinct positions on the spin and great musicality and expression. Unfortunately, in the diagonal step sequence, first Guilietti-Schmitt and then Gustafson fell costing them -2 deductions. They recovered and then finished the program. They scored 37.62.

Tenth in the OD, eleventh overall, Brooke Huber and Karl Edelmann, a new team that trains in Ann Arbor with Samuelson and Bates under coaches Yasa Netchaeva and Iouri Tchesnitchenko. Huber is new to ice dancing. The program contained nice unison on the twizzles and straightline and wonderful expression by both skaters. They scored 37.45.

Pacific Coast champions, Katrina Reyes and Jon Wright, finished eleventh. Their program contained nice lifts and was marred only by Reyes fall on the straighline footwork, for which they received a -1 deduction. They scored 37.12

Clare Farrell and Ashley Deavers (left), who train with Reyes and Wright and are coached by Scott Myers, had a nice straightline sequence and good expression, scoring 36.73.

In thirteenth place, Isabel Elliman and Dmity Serebrenik scored 32.65 to their interpretation of the cha cha and rhumba rhythms. The couple, who are coached by Brad and Jocelyn Cox, had finished tenth and eleventh in the compulsory dances. They finished 9th at the 2004 US Nationals at the novice level.

FREE DANCE

Mauri Gustafson is one of a few athletes at these championships who are skating in their hometown. Gustafson and Giulietti-Schmitt started the free dance portion of the junior ice dancing event, skating to music from the movie “Swing Kids” with a rotational lift featuring the first of many blade to head lifts expected in this event. Their program featured a beautiful dance spin and a pretzel lift on a spread eagle to rotational lift. Gustafson and Giulietti-Schmitt had falls in the compulsories and original dance which resulted in them finishing lower than expected at this competition. They came back to perform strongly in the free dance.
Elements: 31.08 Components: 28.16 FD Total: 59.24 Total: 121.55

Farrell and Deavers skated to music from the movie “Chocolat”. Their program included a curve lift that changed curves and positions, including one with with Farrell in a ‘pretzel’ with her blade pulled to her head. I felt the music selection was a good choice for this team and the program choreography highlighted their matching lines.
Elements: 28.86 Components: 24.55 Deductions: -1 FD Total: 52.41 Total: 113.20

Elliman and Serebrenik skated an expressive program to tango music. Highlights included a rotational lift with Elliman in a vertical split and a curve lift with Elliman pulling her blade to her head.
Elements: 28.65 Components: 22.82 FD Total: 51.47 Total: 116.98

Huber and Edelmann started their program to a Spanish medley off with a dance spin and then onto a lift where Edelmann is on one foot and she is in a Biellmann. Their choreography is very clever and it highlights their skating quality. Change of curve lift where she has her blade to head and her free leg straight, then rotational lift where she grabs her leg around his body and they finished with diagonal footwork and then to the ending position.
Elements: 31.14 Components: 26.45 FD Total: 57.59 Total: 116.98

Miosi and Ponomarev skated their “Phantom on Ice Program” with a lift where he is on one foot and she is upside down. Their twizzles were spot on and the speed and expression was wonderful. The serpentine footwork sequence slowed just a bit, but they picked up more speed with their rotational lift when she changed positions. Their dance spin included a change of position also. There was a slight wobble on one lift, but probably no deduction.
Elements: 31.28 Components: 31.87 FD Total: 63.15 Total: 134.05

Rosenthal and Taylor skated their free program from last season, Zorro’s Theme from The Mask of Zorro, extended to the junior length and with new choreography. They opened with a precise dance spin including a change of position. Their rotational lift looked tricky, but they performed it with ease and then a change of position curve lift where one position included Rosenthal’s blade being pulled to her head.
Elements: 32.20 Components: 29.05 FD Total: 61.25 Total: 125.04

Pilar Bosley of Bosley and Corona has been ill since earlier in the week. In the free dance, she and partner John Corona skated to music from Cirque du soleil. One of the first elements of the program was a lift where Bosley was upside down and Corona was on one foot. Their dance spin had speed, and they had unison on their twizzles. The program continued with a rotational lift which Bosley changed positions in transit and finished with a final rotational lift which changes of position. Great job for someone who obviously wasn’t feeling well and also to her partner for getting her through the program.
Elements: 29.53 Components: 30.95 Total: 127.76

Reyes and Wright skated to Spartacus with her in a pink dress and he in gold. They started out with a serpentine footwork sequence and transitioned to a lift where she was in a split and he on one foot. Their dance spin appeared elegant. Another highlight was a curve lift with her in a blade to head position and transitioning to another position. Their program ended with a rotational lift to ending position.
Elements: 29.58 Components: 30.82 Total: 122.42

Weaver and Clavey’s program to music by Vanessa Mae, seemed to float across the rink at times. This team has shown improvement since last season’s silver medal finish at the novice level. Their choreography seemed created to highlight their edge quality. Their twizzles were close together and their spin reached low positions.
Elements: 34.93 Components: 34.45 FD Total: 68.38 Total:139.83

Davis and White kept last season’s music, but the choreography received a major facelift. Davis and White missed the 2005 U.S. National Championships due to injury, changed coaches and now train in Igor Shpilband’s group in Canton, Michigan. Both skate with much more power and speed than last season, but also retained their skating quality and style. These have all meshed into something special to watch. Their program contained synchronized twizzles that were in perfect unison, a lift which Davis was in a Biellmann position and White was on one foot and a rotational lift which changes of position and direction.
Elements: 42.13 Components: 43.32 FD Total: 85.45 Total: 178.66

Summersett and Pennington skated to Italian techno music. Summersett indicated that the music is talking about “dancing underneath the starts and putting our fortune in line”. The program contained a lift with Summersett in a Biellmann position, and Pennington on one foot, a dance spin in a low position and a rotational lift that changed positions. They received a deduction of -1 due to an extended lift.
Elements: 31.36 Components: 34.52 FD Total: 64.88 Total: 145.02

Samuelson and Bates’ (left) music choice of “Electric Samaurai” included selections from the Kill Bill soundtrack composed by Tomoyasu Hotei. The choreography for this program flowed from element to element and you did not get the impression that this team was skating from element to element, but rather a complete program of elements intertwined with one another. The program highlighted Samuelson’s flexibility and the team’s skating skills and edge quality.
Elements: 37.49 Components: 38.74 FD Total: 76.23 Total: 160.24

Lauten and Hill’s program to “Phantom of the Opera” was choreographed by Ruslan Goncharov. Lauten and Hill are smooth skaters and the program contained several highlight moves that feature those qualities including two rotational lifts and a beautiful dance spin.
Elements: 30.82 Components: 33.71 FD Total: 63.53 Total: 135.91