Novice Compulsory Dance Report – Blues & Paso Doble

The 2011 U.S. National Championships officially began with the novice pattern dances. Twelve teams skated first the Blues, followed by the Paso Doble. Pattern dances, formerly referred to as compulsory dances, are no longer competed at the junior and senior levels, so this event was the last we’ll see of them, in this form, for the week.

Regarding the placements, other than several flip flops, most of the teams stayed in the same position in both dances.

Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons took the lead despite a stumble in the Blues. When Michael tripped on the second part of the second pattern, the siblings quickly recovered for a strong finish. Despite the mistake, the team had one of the largest patterns and received negative GOEs only on the on the sequence with the error. On their Paso Doble, however, there were no mistakes and the Parsons skated a fierce dance and scored nearly three points higher than the second place finishers. They were the only team to receive no negative GOEs for their Paso Doble.

In second place after both dances are Jessica Mancini & Tyler Brooks of the Broadmoor Skating Club. Mancini & Brooks are a bit of a surprise in second after finishing third at Midwestern Sectionals. The team skated both dances with attack and good speed.

Sitting in third place are the 2011 Midwestern Sectional Champions, Kaitlin Hawayek & Michael Bramante. Hawayek & Bramante fared better in the Blues where the finished third and received only two -2 GOEs. In the Paso, they were fast and crisp, but received several negative GOEs on the first step sequence on each pattern and were ranked fourth. Their higher score on the Blues helped secure third place for them.

Elliana Pogrebinsky & Ross Gudis are in fourth after the pattern dances, swapping places with Hawayek & Bramante finishing fourth in the Blues and third in the Paso Doble. Pogrebinsky & Gudis had good flow with their Blues, and had good posture in their Paso.

In fifth are Holly Moore & Daniel Klaber, who finished fifth in both dances Moore & Klaber’s Blues took a more lyrical approach and they had good speed throughout. Their free legs were a bit off at times, but the performance was good overall. They attacked their Paso, but received five -1 GOEs versus three -1s in their Blues.

The 2011 Pacific Coast champions are in sixth place. For a new team, Bryna Oi & Mark Jahnke are a good match and this is Oi’s first Nationals as an ice dancer. She last competed at a National event in 2007 when she won the bronze as an intermediate lady. In their performances, they had the general unison problems on their free legs that are evident with new teams, but they had nice expression in the Blues. Their Paso was precise, but needed a bit more snap and less bounce.

Brittany Schmucker & Adam Munday finished in seventh place with two solid dances. In the Blues, the team had an ease and flow in their performance, though their free legs were off at times. As a new team, this is something that can be improved with time. Their Paso was solid, but could have used a bit more snap. Munday’s partnering skills are very strong.

In their second season together, Morgan Grant & Luke Skala qualified for Nationals by winning the bronze at Eastern Sectionals. The team seemed focused but tentative in the Blues, receiving several -1 GOEs on each of the sequences and finishing ninths. Their Paso showcased nice crispness and snap, finishing eighth and pulling them up to eighth overall.

Roxette Howe & Ryan Farmer were the first skaters to take the ice for the event. A new team this year, Howe & Farmer had nice carriage and pacing in their Blues, although there were moments when the timing seemed off. After finishing eighth in the first dance, they finished ninth in the Paso Doble, which lacked some of the attack of the teams who finished higher and they received a scattered number of -1 GOEs. They are in ninth place overall.

The 2010 U.S. intermediate pewter medalists, Jessica DeMaria & Dean Miller, are in tenth. DeMaria & Miller seemed slower and more tentative than some of the teams who finished ahead of them in the Blues, while they showed more character in their Paso.

Cassandra Jeandell & Damian Dodge had a decent Blues performance, until a stumble on the final sequence on the third pattern. The team received four -3 GOEs and four -2 GOES for that sequence, placing them in 12th after the first dance. The team rebounded with a 10th place Paso Doble which was more striking and pulled them into 11th place overall.

Grace Deissroth & Brett Mueller, who finished 11th in the Blues and 12th in the Paso Doble, are in 12th place overall. Deissroth & Mueller are a new team this season and although they lacked some of the unison and polish of teams ahead of them, they’ve shown improvement in both since Lake Placid and should continue to improve with time.

As always, the free dance will decide who takes home gold, silver, bronze and pewter.


Novice Free Dance Report

For the third time in three years, Rachel Parsons will stand on top of the medal podium. This January she shares the honor with her brother, Michael, as they are crowned the 2011 U.S. novice ice dance champions.

Skating to “Firebird” by Stravinsky, the siblings executed each element with precision, and as the music built, so did their speed. There were several program highlights including their twizzles, which the second set was mirrored, a complex straightline-into-rotational lift, and an around the back entrance into a low lift. They finished second in the free dance, but retained first place with a final score of 112.82, receiving only one -1 GOE for their final rotational lift. The Parsons won the PCS by about two points. The judges were on the same page with the first four components, but when it came to Interpretation/Timing, the scores ran from 2.0 to 6.0.

Finishing in second, but winning the free skate by .05, are Jessica Mancini & Tyler Brooks, who presented a light performance to “La Vie en Rose” and “La Mer” by Louis Armstrong. Mancini & Brooks have a height difference that one would expect in pairs rather than ice dance, but they make it work. A program highlight included a lift where Mancini stretched into a split while balancing on his foot. Their twizzles were off on the first set and they received six -1 GOEs and two -2 GOEs on the element plus a one point deduction for an extended lift. However, the Broadmoor duo earned the only +3 of the free dance, and it came on their circular step sequence that opened the program.

We haven’t seen many three-way ties in ice dancing since the era of ordinals and multiple compulsory dances in a single competition, but today three teams earned a free dance score of 58.76.

One of three teams tied for third in the free dance score, Kaitlin Hawayek & Michael Bramante, won the bronze as well as the PCS mark. Skating to “Strictly Violin” by ND and “The Red Violin” by Ikuko Kawai the team received level 4s for all of their lifts and their twizzles. Their spin started well with great speed, but she fell out of it and the team received five -2 GOEs and four -1 GOEs on the level 2 element.

Taking home the pewter medal are Elliana Pogrebinsky & Ross Gudis, another one of the 58.76 club. Skating to “Spirit of the Universe” and “Tetsujin” from the “Matrix Revolutions,” their black and neon green costumes, with matching knee-high boots for Pogrebinsky, fit their theme perfectly. They were the second of the three teams with the same free dance score. They had exceptional stretch on their pair spin, which was awarded level 4 and received three +1 GOEs. Their final straightline lift had effortless change of position.

Finishing fifth overall were Bryna Oi & Mark Jahnke. Skating to “Un Bel Di” from Madame Butterfly, the couple was awarded level 4s for all of their elements except for their circular step sequences, which received was graded level 2 and received three -1 GOEs. Their positions in lifts and highlight moves were very elegant.

Brittany Schmucker & Adam Munday were fifth in the free dance but sixth overall. They won the crowd over instantly with their performance to a medley of music by Elvis Presley including “Jail House Rock,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and “A Little Less Conversation.” The moment the opening bars of “Jail House Rock” started, the audience was on board and clapped along. The team kept the energy going throughout the performance. They were the final of three teams who received 58.76, and of the three had the highest TES score with 33.90.

Morgan Grant & Luke Skala’s program to music from “Chicago” also entertained the audience. Starting with “Cell Block Tango” and transitioning into “Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag,” they received level 4 for all of their lifts, but their twizzles, which were awarded level 3 received six -1 GOEs.

Though they finished tenth in the free dance, their marks from the pattern dances were enough to keep Holly Moore & Daniel Klaber in eighth place. Their performance to “Harem” by Sarah Brightman seemed tentative and they left a lot of points on the table with only three of the seven elements rating a level 4. They lost GOEs on their first rotational lift and their curve lift. Their level 3 twizzles received six +1 GOEs and two +2s. The team also received a two-point deduction for an illegal element.

Roxette Howe & Ryan Farmer finished eighth in the free dance and ninth overall. Their performance to a violin instrumental version of “Who Wants to Live Forever” by Queen had appropriate expression and their lifts had lovely positions, in particular their straightline-to-curve lift which received level 4 and positive GOEs. All elements received a net-positive GOE, even though they had their spin called level 3 and their circular step sequence only level 1.

Skating first in the first group, Cassandra Jeandell & Damian Dodge performed their free dance to “You Raise Me Up” by Il Divo. Their performance showcased good unison on their twizzles and positions, a solid rotational lift and excellent dance spin. They received level 4s on all their lifts, level 3 for their twizzles, but only level 2 for the diagonal step sequence. The performance felt like it should have ranked much higher, but the skating order did them no favors.

Finishing 11th in the free dance and overall were Grace Deissroth & Brett Mueller, who skated to “La Strada” by Nino Rota. They had good expression throughout the performance and although some parts looked rough and slow, they received calls of level 4 on all four lifts.

Jessica DeMaria & Dean Miller finished in 12th place in the free dance and overall. Presenting a program to “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble, the team seemed slower than the others; and in today’s competition, they looked flatter than they had in practices. DeMaria & Miller lost a lot of base value when the received no credit for their spin, had their circular step sequence called a level 1 with negative GOE, and level 3 twizzles with -.64 GOE. On the plus side, the Pittsburgh-based couple will get to cheer on their Steelers in the Super Bowl in two weeks!