November 14-17, 2007 – Raleigh, NC

The 2008 Eastern Sectional Championships take place this week at the Factory Ice House in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Four couples from each level will qualify to compete at the 2008 U.S. National Championships. While ice dancers at the novice and junior levels will duke it out to earn one of the coveted spots, the senior dancers will automatically qualify due to their being only two teams registered to compete.

For juvenile and intermediate couples this season, competition at the regional level was eliminated and teams were given the option of competed at one of the sectional events or advancing directly to Nationals. Two intermediate and three juvenile teams chose to compete at Eastern Sectionals. Rose Dolan & James Dolan and Jennifer Stuart & David Lenz are the intermediate competitors, while Danielle Gamelin & Alexander Gamelin, Zoe Sakas & Christopher Larosa and Tori Look & David Botero will compet at the juvenile level.

Clare Farrell and Chase Fishpaw are competing this season at the senior level after finishing tenth at the 2007 U.S. National Championships as juniors. This is their second season together and they continue to improve with each competition. Marsha Snyder and Peter Fischl teamed up earlier this season and debuted at the 2007 Lake Placid Ice Dancing Championships.

At the junior level, four of the six teams competed internationally for team USA. Pilar Bosley and John Corona won this event a year ago and will look to continue the momentum they started with a bronze medal at the Junior Grand Prix in Lake Placid and followed up with a fifth place finish at the JGP in Chemnitz, one of the toughest JGP’s of the season.

Isabella Cannuscio and Ian Lorello competed at the 2007 US National Championships where they finished fourth. They were named to the US Figure Skating Developmental Team and had a strong debut on the JGP circuit finishing 4th in Romania and 8th at Bulgaria. Anastasia Cannuscio, Isabella’s sister, and Dean Copely won the bronze medal at 2007 Nationals and their performances at Lake Placid earned them the opportunity to competed at the JGP in Croatia, where they finished seventh. They followed it up with an eigth place finish at the John Curry Memorial in Sheffield, England.

Sara Bailey and Kyle Herring, the US National novice silver medallists in 2007, competed at the JGP in Lake Placid and were hampered there when Bailey became ill at the event. The duo pushed through the obstacle to finish 7th.

Lili LaMar and Zachary Donohue, who teamed up earlier tis year, didn’t have the debut they were hoping for at the start of the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships, but bounced back to qualify for the CD Final.

Kristen Koetter and Aaron-Taylor Austin, a new team, competed only in the compulsory dance events at Lake Placid. They will debut their original and free dances at sectionals.

If you combine the number of novice ice dancing entries from all three sectional events, the result is over 30. The novice event is unpredictable due to the depth of skating ability and the number of new partnerships. Each team brings something unique to the table and creates an exciting competition. The final qualifiers for Nationals may not be decided until the final team has left the ice and the results tallied.

Chloe Wolf and Rhys Ainsworth, who finished seventh at the Nationals last year, are the most experienced novice team competing here. Wolf and Ainsworth competed at the Central Ontario Summer Skate, a replacement event for the North American Challenge Skate, where they won the silver medal.

The 2007 US Junior National intermediate champions, Una Donegan and Andrew Korda, had a strong debut at the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships, finishing second in the free dance ahead of teams with more novice competitive experience. Donegan and Korda followed their LPIDC performances with a silver at the Quebec Summer Championships, the second NACS replacement event.

Katie Wyble, a two-time novice national competitor, returns this season with a new partner, Justin Morrow. The team competed in only compulsory dance events at Lake Placid, but won the CD Final over Wolf & Ainsworth who finished second.

Competition for any of the spots could come from experience teams Natalie Wojton & Michael Soyver and Ashley Halstead & Robert Knopf or new teams Liza Branella & Benjamin Nykiel, Claire Schretlen & Chase Brogan, Ryan Coombs & Christian Pickard, Harmony Risca & Avidan Brown, Mariah Benfield & Gene Holmes and Ilana Morse & Adam Goujaine – it’s really THAT competitive in Raleigh.