by Anne Calder

The First Annual Dance Chicago Championships was held at the Fox Valley Ice Arena, Geneva, IL August 12-14, 2016. Thirty-five juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior and senior teams competed. The event was also part of the USFS Solo Dance Series for earning points.

Medals were awarded in Short Dance and Free Dance. The points were not cumulative.


Short Dance
The 2016-17 ISU Short Dance rhythm is the blues + swing/hip-hop. More senior teams at the first two 2016 ice dance competitions (Lake Placid and Chicago) selected swing than the new style or new funk hip-hop.

Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (65.60) earned the top score with a blues to Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good” and hip-hop to “How I feel Remix” by Flo Rida. The team chose the “rap” genre since they’d never attempted it before and thought their youth was an advantage.

Danielle Thomas & Daniel Eaton (57.60) were second with a snappy blues and swing dance to “Let’s Get it On” and “Superstition”. Thomas & Eaton, in their second season together, were gold medalists at the recent 2016 Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships.

Julie Biechler & Damian Dodge (56.36) finished third with blues and swing to “Why Don’t You Do Right” by Jessica Rabbit and Imelda May’s “Tainted Love”. The team made their senior debut in July at the Lake Placid Ice Dance International.

Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed (JPN) (54.90) danced to a blues and swing medley of Ray Charles music. Reed partnered with Muramoto in 2015 after skating nine years with his sister, Cathy. They train with Marina Zueva in Canton, MI.

Karina Manta & Joseph Johnson (54.90) danced blues and swing to “La Vie en Rose” and “I Wanna be Like You”.

Charlotte Maxwell & Ryan Devereaux (54.86) were a close .04 behind in sixth place. They performed a playful blues and a high-energy swing dance choreographed by Charlie White. The team partnered in 2014 after each had taken a five-year sabbatical from competitive skating.

Remaining teams/results: (TUR) Alisa Agafonova & Alper Ucar (50.46), (LTU) Taylor Tran & Saul Ambrulevicius (44.92), (JPN) Ibuki Mori & Kentaro Suzuki (42.88), (HUN) Carolina Moscheri & Adam Lukacs (41.40), Kseniya Ponomayova & Oleg Atukhov (37.36), and Olivia Dufour & Luke Russell (34.76).

Free Dance

Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (94.58) danced a light and exquisite performance to Franz Lizst’s Liebestraum No. 3 and won the inaugural event with a 160.18 total score. It was an excellent start for the 2014 World Junior Champions who had a rocky sophomore senior season in 2015-16.  The team will compete at two 2016 Grand Prix events – Skate Canada and NHK.

Danielle Thomas & Daniel Eaton (91.66) earned the silver medal with their mature interpretation of Sam Smith’s, “Lay Me Down”. The team trains in Canton, MI with Marina Zueva.

Kana Muramota & Chris Reed (JPN) were third with 85.56 points. The team performed a flamenco to Poeta by Spanish guitarist Vicente Amigo. The second year team will compete in the 2016 Grand Prix Series at Skate America and NHK.

Julie Biechler & Damian Dodge (82.44) were mesmerizing as they interpreted the pleading lyrics of “Breathe Me” by female Australian vocalist, Sia. The team, who trains in Aston, PA, scored 82.44 points. 

Karina Manta & Joseph Johnson performed to “Dream On” by Aerosmith and earned 81.54 points. The Colorado Springs-based team is in their second senior season.

Charlotte Maxwell & Ryan Devereaux (79.40) danced to Prokoviev’s Romeo & Juliet with a modern take showing the “star-crossed” lovers getting to say goodbye to one another. Opening with the classic “March”, the second half is “Goodbye My Lover” by James Blunt. 

The remaining teams finished as follows: (JPN) Ibuki Mori & Kentaro Suzuki (113.02), (LTU) Taylor Tran & Saul Ambrulevicius (107.96), (HUN) Carolina Moscheri & Adam Lukacs (103.72) Kseniya Ponomayova & Oleg Atukhov (99.44), and Olivia Dufour & Luke Russell (95.44). 

Letitia Marsh & Anton Spiridonov (GBR) were third in the short dance (41.28) after a twizzle misstep, tied for first in the free dance (60.52) to Notre-Dame de Paris. Marsh is British and Spiridonov has both U.S. and Russian citizenship. He is the younger brother of Maxim Zavozin, the 2005 World Junior Champion with partner Morgan Matthews. The team trains in Canton, MI with Marina Zoueva and will compete in the Junior Grand Prix in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from September 21-24.

Alina Efimova & Alexander Petrov placed second in the short dance (41.74) with blues and swing, and fourth in the free dance to “Broad Sunlit Uplands” (Mike Oldfield) and “Nero” (Two Steps From Hell). The team is in its first season together and trains in Raleigh, NC with Nathan Truesdell.

Jenna Hertenstein & Damian Binkowski (POL) finished fourth in the short dance (40.16) and free dance (60.04), and earned the bronze medal with 100.20 points. The team trains in Cincinnati, OH with Krzysztof Tomczyk. They partnered in 2015 and competed in the 2015 JGP Series and the 2015 World Junior Championships.

Lydia Erdman & Alexey Shchepetov were fifth in the short dance (39.08), but tied Marsh & Spiridonov in the free dance (60.52). The team was third at the 2015 Youth Olympic Games qualifier at the LPIDC. The team is in its sophomore season and trains in Ardmore, PA.

The final three teams are all new partnerships for the 2016/17 season.

Elizabeth Addas & Michael Valdez finished sixth in the short dance (37.28) and fifth in the free dance (58.46)

Diana Avaz & Val Katsman won the short dance (42.08), but finished sixth in the free dance (51.32).

Cassidy Klopstock & Jacob Schedl finished seventh in the short dance (34.62) and the free dance (47.32).