by Melanie Hoyt
The compulsory chosen for seniors was the Austrian Waltz. I’ve never seen this one live before, and I’m more enthusiastic about compulsory dances than most people I know, so any new experience is a great one for me.
It was no surprise that Jennifer Wester and Daniil Barantsev won this round. Their dance was light and airy right from the start, and incredibly smooth. If I’m going to nit-pick, I’d say that her free arm was a little tense when she used it to accent the steps, and a couple of times, her leg wasn’t quite as extended as his, but those were both minor details. In the last corner, she did stumble slightly, but they covered it well. Overall, I thought it was an excellent dance.
Mauri Gustafson and Joel Dear, a new team this year, were second. They presented a controlled dance with accurate steps, but after Wester and Barantsev, they looked much heavier. She appeared to have to reach for him when they changed positions and then returned to the waltz hold. It was a solid dance, but it just looked like more work, compared to the team that they followed. They looked confident, though, and wore beautiful, relaxed smiles throughout. The dance was technically proficient and it was on the technical element score that they bested Wester and Barantsev.
Stacy Kim and Jonathan Harris, a recent pairing, finished third. They looked quite comfortable with the dance and appeared relaxed, but perhaps it was a case of being too relaxed. Their legs did not quite match, and they made a few mistakes. I heard a clank in the first half of the second pattern, so I think that their blades clicked together, and then they had another small problem in the last corner. Overall, I think it was a good dance for them in their first competition together, and they can build on this for the remaining events.