Reports by Karen Frank
Juvenile Compulsory Dance
All the teams entered in the Juvenile and Intermediate Dance in the Upper Great Lakes Region will advance to Junior Nationals (5 in each event), but that didn’t lessen the excitement of this event. On Wednesday, October 18, the compulsory dance portion of the competition took place, and the spectators were treated to the Cha-Cha, the Hickory Hoedown (in both Juvenile and Intermediate), and the Foxtrot. Perhaps thanks to the growing popularity of Ice Dance, fans filled over half of the available bleachers.
The Juvenile Compulsory event was dominated by Mackenzie Reed and Christian Erwin (dubbed “Mac & Cheese” by their supporters in the audience), who received 6 of 7 first place ordinals in the Cha Cha and all 7 first place ordinals in the Hickory Hoedown. Reed and Erwin’s skating is characterized by smooth, deep edges, soft knees, strong extension, and good unison. They also appear to be a well-matched team, with similar styles of movement and equal attention to presentation. It is as much fun to look at the expression on Christian’s face as it is to watch Mackenzie and it was a blast to see them kick up their heels in the Hickory Hoedown.
Three sibling teams sit in second, third, and fourth. Sage and Malcolm Kelner, who finished second in both dances, looked to be more comfortable overall in the Hickory Hoedown, in terms of having fun with the movements of the dance. They skate with speed and power, but occasionally were a little stiff. Isabelle and Joshua Larson, in third, also put a personal stamp on their compulsories, with extra shoulder shimmies in the Cha-Cha, and lots of perkiness in the Hoedown. They were slightly slower than the top two couples though. In fourth, Nicole and Ryan Otto, are characterized by soft knees and deep edges. They were a little tentative in both dances, and had a problem in the end of the Hoedown when their blades clinked. The fifth place team, Carly Gold and Milo Skalicky may have had a case of nerves in the Cha-Cha, but calmed down to get more into the Hickory Hoedown. At the moment, Carly comes across as the stronger skater and in both dancers it appeared as if she was towing him through the rough spots. That will likely improve with more experience.
Intermediate Compulsory Dance
Like Reed and Erwin did in Juvenile, Molly and Nathan Raymond took 13 of the 14 available first place ordinals to put themselves solidly in the lead in the Intermediate event. An elegant and mature looking team, the Raymonds were powerful and fast. They created large patterns in both dances, and their unison was strong. Unfortunately there was a miscommunication in the Foxtrot, and they only skated three patterns. After a conference with the referee, they were allowed to skate a final pattern for the dance – which they accomplished without any lapse in concentration.
Unlike the Juvenile event, where the standings remained the same in both dances, the intermediate teams switched places between CD, resulting in a three way tie for second place. Lauri Bonacorsi and Jonathan Cohn, who appear to be at a size disadvantage to the other teams in this event, were 4 th in the Hickory Hoedown and 2 nd in the Foxtrot. Though they don’t generate much power as the taller teams, they still performed their dances at a good speed and have expressive presentation.
Melinda Wang and Nathan Lim, who were 3 rd in both dances, are elegant beautiful skaters with lovely line and posture. They don’t yet appear to be comfortable skating together and were tentative in sections of both dances. Second in the Hickory Hoedown and 4 th in the Foxtrot were Rachel Riske and Kevin Allison, who skated with speed and confidence. They have deep, sure edges, but had some trouble with unison, especially in the Foxtrot. The fifth place team, Chelsea Jernberg and Michael Lueck are to be well matched and have strong unison. They present an attractive picture on the ice. Their dances were tentative though, and it appeared that they were concentrating on getting the steps correctly, and rather than on presenting either dance with power and expression.
The Upper Great Lakes region doesn’t always have dance fields at these levels, and it’s exciting to see how ice dance is developing here in the “tundra.” Fielding five teams in both juvenile and intermediate indicates a growing popularity for ice dance, and it will be interesting to watch all these teams in the future as they become more confident and experienced.