by Michelle Wojdyla

It was a foregone conclusion that a hometown skater would capture gold in the intermediate dance competition. Both teams, Jennifer Stuart & David Lenz and Rose & James Dolan, train at the Factory Ice House in Wake Forest, the very ice the Eastern Sectional Championships used.

With all ice dancers automatically advancing to junior nationals in Salt Lake City, the sectional event served as an opportunity to put the dances out there for the judging feedback before the big competition later this month. Jennifer Stuart & David Lenz swept both compulsories and won the free dance with a score of 37.03 giving them a final total of 72.33.

How did capturing the gold feel? Stuart laughed.

“Out of two people?” she said. “Not very exciting.”

Skating to “Croatian Rhapsody” by Maksim Mrvica, Stuart and Lenz received level 4s on both lifts and their twizzles. The only element that was hit with a negative GoE (-.25) was their level 1 diagonal step sequence. The lone –1 in their twizzles was dropped. The majority of the GoEs were base, with the exception of their strong closing curve lift, which was mostly +1.

“These competitions give you a lot of good feedback,” Lenz said. “It was very helpful to see our improvements from Lake Placid and Challenge Cup, and to see how what we’ve done [since] has paid off. To just sort of take that inspiration and to work harder on the elements we got negative GoEs on or lower component scores.”

For the Dolan siblings, performing their “Cleopatra” free dance was, as Rose said, “a nice accomplishment.” They did not have the difficulty Stuart & Lenz did, but their level 3 lifts were secure.

Competing in this optional event had its perks.

“It’s very convenient. We live about ten minutes away,” Rose said. “It was really nice. A lot of our friends came to see us skate. They hadn’t seen us [before] because all the competitions had been in New York, Florida, Arizona.”

“It’s nice to come to sectionals a year before it actually counts as the qualifying competition for junior nationals,” Lenz added. “It was fun to be able to skate at a rink we normally skate at and have some people come and watch, even though it was an early morning skate.”

Going up against their training partners wasn’t an uncomfortable situation.

“I never really thought about it,” Lenz said. “We were going to be happy either way with what the result was because we’re really good friends. Typically when we go to competitions, we hang out together.”