Reports by Karen Frank

Juvenile Free Dance

The audience packed nearly every section of the bleachers on Friday morning for the Juvenile Freedance, proving that even though ice dance is not often seen in this region, people love to watch it when it’s available.

Isabella and Joshua Larson got the party started with an upbeat Latin Pop number that went immediately into quick footwork down the center of the ice. Though Joshua had injured himself in a fall on a lift during the 20 minute warm-up session, the team showed no hesitation attempting the lift again in the program, going easily into a waist rotational lift, with Isabella holding a full split position. She also showed off her flexibility by going into a catchfoot position during a straight line life. There were some tricky behind the back changes of hold during a circular footwork sequence, and the program finished with a nicely positioned dance spin, with both skaters in a low sit position. The last third of the program though, relied too much on crossovers instead of turns and edgework. In a close ordinal split, they finished fourth.

Skating second in the event, were Nicole and Ryan Otto, who performed to Swing music. They began their program with a waist high rotational lift. Their dance elements showed an attention to complexity, by including a change of feet in their dance spin, and having Nicole in forward catchfoot position during the straight line lift. While the footwork elements were a bit simpler, with lots of swing rolls, bunny hops in dance hold, and only two turns on each twizzle sequence, they displayed strong unison and tracking. The program also included a pretty pair outside spread eagle. They came out ahead of the Larsons in the ordinal split, and finished in third.

In the middle of the skate order were Carly Gold and Milo Skalicky, who performed to percussion heavy mambo music (possibly the Martin Denny Orchestra). The highlight of this program was a straight line lift which had Carly in an upside-down position, with her face inches away from the ice. Milo also displayed his strength in a fast waist rotational lift. Unison is a weakness for this team, especially in the twizzles. The judges gave them marks from third to fifth, but the overall majority had them in fifth.

While the judges didn’t uniformly agree on the placement of the teams from third to fifth, they were more decisive on second and first place. Skating fourth in the skate order, and finishing in second, were Sage and Malcolm Kelner. The home town team skated to Pink Martini’s “Lilly” and used a waltz hold to do their opening footwork. Their dance spin was lovely: it began as a tango sit spin, and had a change of feet to a camel and upright attitude positions. Their lifts took advantage of Sage’s flexibility, with her in a “Y” position in the curve lift, and a half-Biellman in the rotational lift. There were some unison issues in the twizzles.

Finishing out the competition were MacKenzie Reid and Christian Erwin, who performed to medley of French tunes: Louis Armstrong’s interpretation of “La Vie En Rose” and Toots Thieleman’s upbeat harmonica version of “I Love Paris”. Their basic skating skills are lovely, and they took advantage of their smooth stroking and soft knees in the slow part of the program and their sense of rhythm during a fast circular sequence (done in a close waltz hold). Lifting is one of their strengths, and their straightline lift had Christian in a low glide with Mackenzie balanced on his knees and leaning back in a catchfoot curl. Their rotational lift featured a change of position, with no loss of speed or control. They also started off their twizzle sequence (a 3-4-2 pattern) with matching body position and good unison, though they were off slightly by the end of the last set. Their dance spin was comparatively weak, as it was not very fast or long, and had no changes of feet or position. All of the judges placed them in first.

Overall Standings (CD1 CD2 FD)

1 .Reid/Erwin 1 1 1

2. Kelner/Kelner 2 2 2

3. Otto/Otto 4 4 3

4. Larson/Larson 3 3 4

5. Gold/Skalicky 5 5 5

With that, the dance events at Upper Great Lakes concluded. Totaling ten teams in both juvenile and intermediate, this is the largest dance event the region has had in recent years (2002 UGL had 2 intermediate teams; 2003 had no dance event; 2004 had 2 juvenile teams; 2005 had 2 intermediate and 5 juvenile teams; and 2006 had 4 intermediate and 3 juvenile teams). Perhaps next year, the competition will increase further and be able to field a novice event… but in the meantime, good luck to all ten of these teams at Junior Nationals.