by Michelle Wojdyla
Welcome to “new school” original dances. Hope you are good at math.
For the top five teams after the compulsory dance, not one of them ranked in the same spot in the original dance. Another odd fact: not one team was ranked in the same position overall as it was in the OD.
Sara Bailey & Kyle Herring were second in the OD (47.44) but first overall after the two phases (77.40).
Anastasia Cannuscio & Dean Copely were first in the OD (47.77) but second overall after the two phases (75.70).
Pilar Bosley & John Corona were fourth in the OD (45.26) but third overall (74.64).
Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello were fifth in the OD (45.20) but fourth overall (72.90).
Lili LaMar & Zach Donohue were third in the OD (74.64) but fifth overall (71.37).
Put another way, CD(rank) + OD(rank) = Sum(rank) = Really + Tight + Competition
No team escaped without at least three –1s for GoE. No team had more than four level 4 elements. Each team of the top five had at least one level 2.
The original dance competition kicked off with Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello skating to African music. The only deductions they received were on their level four twizzles, with the remaining grades of execution a mix of base and +1.
“I thought we skated pretty good,” Isabella said. “Probably not our best, though. Our best was probably in Romania, but this is definitely better than Bulgaria.”
The duo chose the African music because it was “something different that’s fun to do,” Lorello said. “The choreographer was Natalia Linichuk, and Karen (Ludington) did a lot on it as well.”
Incorporating the back and forth torso movements with the various required footwork was a challenge early in the season.
“When we started doing it, it was hard,” Isabella said, “but it got better as we started working on it.”
Lili LaMar and Zach Donohue had a strong showing with their Hungarian folk dance. The couple “skates big” and uses their height and long lines to create dynamic shapes. Both their lifts were level 4, the straight line receiving three +2s. The only error came on the twizzles, when LaMar did an extra turn on the exit.
“We’re both kind of hurt right now and our skates are broken down, but we’re just happy to skate clean, really,” LaMar said. “It felt good.”
Four of the top teams all competed on the Junior Grand Prix circuit, but that did not intimidate the team coached by Matthew Gates.
“Before I go out and skate, I just zone out and think about us, the judges, and the audience,” Lamar said. “I don’t concentrate on the competitors. We’re friendly after the competition, but before, everyone’s zoned out.”
Kristen Koetter & Aaron-Taylor Austin had a rough skate in the OD, scoring 26.98. They withdrew from the competition afterwards.
Soon after the final three teams took the ice for their warm-up, Pilar Bosley & John Corona—who were skating with her in front of him, her arms reaching back—tripped and went crashing into the boards with a frighteningly loud thud. The two other teams on the ice, Sara Bailey & Kyle Herring and Anastasia Cannuscio & Dean Copely, immediately stopped their warm-up and rushed over.
“I was really concerned,” Copely said. “She wasn’t getting up right away.”
While John stood up fairly quickly, Pilar stayed down on the ice until she was helped to her feet.
“That was a really bad fall,” Anastasia said. “She had the wind knocked out of her pretty badly.”
After conferring with coach Robbie Kaine, Bosley & Corona, who were first after the warm-up, performed their Turkish dance.
“They basically had a minute to warm up, so they were trying to get their composure,” Kaine said. “They did a good job with it. It could have been worse. They could have really been injured and not been able to finish the warm-up. It was OK. They made two mistakes in the program. It wasn’t like they made 100 mistakes.”
A foot down during the twizzles dropped it to a level 3 with a -.5 GoE. They also botched the spin, earning only 2.25 points.
“Everybody goes through this in practice,” Kaine said. “People do this, and they fight through it. It’s another step for them. They’ll work through it. They will. I feel really strongly about that. I know how hard they’ve worked. They’ve had two good Grand Prix [competitions] and they’ve skated well at both of them. You can’t be perfect all the time. You just can’t do it. Nobody’s Superman.”
“We were just doing the warm up circle and I got tripped up,” Corona explained. “I think we were just a little anxious. We took a pretty bad fall into the boards, but we’re fine. I hit my knee. I think Pilar just got a little shaky and got the wind knocked out of her. I think we recovered OK. We were still a little shaky when we went into the OD. We skated first, naturally.”
Asked if it was better to skate first rather than leave the ice for a while, Corona had a definite opinion.
“Two or three would have been awesome,” he said. “We’re last for the free dance, which is good.”
But were they going to fall in the warm-up for the free, too?
“I think one or two, actually, just going into it,” Corona deadpanned. “I think it sets a mood.”
Corona confirmed this was not their best OD: “no, not so much!” but was pleased with how they got themselves together after the fall.
“You just try to breathe,” he said. “How many run-throughs have we done, and how many hours have we trained? We can do this. It’s not like we haven’t gone into a program with a little handicap before.”
Sara Bailey & Kyle Herring, who skated next, were disappointed with their “Zorba the Greek” dance.
“We definitely didn’t skate our best,” Bailey said.
“It wasn’t bad, but we didn’t skate it as solidly as we would have liked to,” Herring said. “I felt like we got a little ahead of ourselves and overexcited. It started off well, but we had a little trouble reining it in. We finished strong. We got through it.”
After opening with a strong level 2 circular step sequence that received +1.25 GoE, Bailey wound up on the wrong side of Herring. In a split second, he pushed her into position so they would be ready for their rotational lift that was to immediately follow.
“Right before the lift we kind of tripped over each other,” Bailey explained. “I was amazed by how fast he reacted. He was just [immediately] in the lift.”
“I was like, OK, pick her up. I’m supposed to lift her here,” Herring said.
The lift received four +1s and one +2 score in addition to a 0. Quick thinking paid off.
“I still think we did our OD better than it’s been at previous competitions,” Herring said. “It’s a learning experience.”
The dance, completely revamped since Lake Placid, highlights the excellent timing Bailey & Herring have together with the music. Their highest program component scores (a pair of 6.0s) came in the interpretation/timing category.
Skating last were Anastasia Cannuscio & Dean Copely. Their version of “Kalinka” featured good speed and energy throughout.
“I enjoy our OD a lot,” Copely said. “It’s my favorite part to perform.”
The only blemish in their scores came in the form of three –1s on their twizzles.
“I don’t think it was the best skate that we’ve had,” Anastasia said. “I think Croatia was better, but this was still good. Just the twizzles were a little wobbly.”
Even wobbly twizzles couldn’t get the smiling Copely down.
“We beat our personal best by two points!”