Gigi & Luca Becker of the Washington Figure Skating Club are in first place after the novice pattern dance event at the 2014 U.S. National Championships in Boston, leading training mates, Eliana Gropman and Ian Somerville, the 2013 U.S. intermediate champions, by two points.
The Beckers who won the novice pewter medal at the 2013 U.S. championships were considered the top returning novice team heading into Boston. Both teams train at the Wheaton Ice Skating Academy (WISA) in Wheaton, MD.
With similar program component marks received by both teams in both dances, the difference in scoring is largely based on the total element score in the Viennese Waltz. The Becker siblings received 22.84 compared to Gropman & Somerville’s 18.86. While Gropman & Somerville won the first dance, the Argentine Tango, they finished third in the Viennese Waltz, dropping below Detroit Skating Club’s Danielle Thomas & Alexander Martin who are currently in third and 5.4 points behind the top two.
Sarah Feng & Anthony Ponomarenko, the only other returning novice team to compete at the 2013 U.S. championships, are in fourth (45.68), with Gwen Sletten & Elliot Verburg in fifth (42.20) and Payton Howland & Jason Cohn (41.57) rounding out the top 6.
The novice competitors treated the audience to a mix of program themes from a motor race to Man in the Iron Mask to music from a disco and beyond which made for an exciting morning of free dances. The field consists of new teams, intermediate graduates and a few from last season who remained at the novice level.
Siblings Gigi & Luca Becker were the leaders heading into the free dance and took home the gold medal despite a second place finish in the free dance. Their performance to music from the Bee Gees received level 4 for all elements except their step sequences which were graded level 2. They received only one negative GOE (-1) for their rotational lift.
Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville who trailed the leaders by two points after the pattern dances finished third in the free dance and second overall, winning silver in their first year at the novice level. Their country-inspired program to music by Titiyo and Big & Rich received no negative GOEs, but their circular steps were awarded only level 1and their twizzles were graded level 3, which hampered their technical mark.
Sarah Feng & Anthony Ponomarenko (pictured, right), who were fourth after the pattern dances, won the free dance and pulled up to third overall taking the bronze. Skating to music by Yello, including “The Race” and “Drive Driven”, finished .32 ahead of Becker & Becker in the free skate. They were the only team in the field to receive a level 3 for a step sequence (not touching midline).
The new team of Danielle Thomas & Alexander Martin dropped to fourth with a sixth place finish in the free dance. Their charming program to music from My Fair Lady received level fours for all of their lifts, but a twizzle issue and unfortunate fall by Thomas during the midline step sequence left the team with lower levels, hurting their overall result.
Maeve Pascoe & Micah Jaffe, also a new team pulled up from seventh to fifth with a fourth place finish in the free dance. Finishing in sixth were Payton Howland & Jason Cohn.