by Anne Calder | Photo by Melanie Heaney

The 2015 podium winners – Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA), Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd (RUS) and Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons (USA) returned to defend or improve their rankings. Each qualified with two gold medal wins in the 2016 Series. Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (USA), Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron (FRA) and Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov (RUS) made their Final debut.

Short Dance:  Russians Take Slim Short Dance Lead

Less than seven points separated the six teams. Russians Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd held a slim first place lead over Americans Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons. US National champions Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter were third, followed by Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (USA). Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron (FRA) and Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov (RUS).

Loboda & Drozd showed power and speed throughout their “St. Louis Blues” program and earned a personal best 67.58. Their level 4 twizzles scored six +3 GOE marks. Their straight-line lift and first blues pattern were also level 4; the second pattern and not touching footwork were level 3.

“We were very pleased with how we skated; we made some changes, and it paid off,” Drozd said. “After winning silver twice, it is now time for us to get to the top of the podium in our last Junior Final.”

Parsons & Parsons’ season best 66.91 included the highest TES score. Four of their elements were level 4. The siblings were the only team to hit all the blues pattern key points in both of their GP competitions and the Final to earn level 4 six times. Hip-hop to Fergi’s “A Little Party Never Hurt Nobody” anchored the playful program, with Lana del Rey’s, “Born to Die” providing the blues music.

“That was a lot of fun; the ice was great; and the atmosphere was great,” Michael said.

“We put our best skate out there,” Rachel added.

Defending champions, McNamara & Carpenter, had a slight stumble before their rotational lift. The element earned a level 4, but it lowered the GOE marks. The twizzles and first blues pattern were also level 4, with the second pattern receiving a level 2. The team scored 63.73.

“This year we’ve been focusing more on our personal skating skills and just wanted to show the improvement we know we’ve made this year,” McNamara noted.

Carreira & Ponomarenko (61.39), Abachkina & Thauron (60.08) and Shpilevaya & Smirnov (59.29) placed fourth – sixth.

 

Free Dance:  Parsons siblings win Gold

Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons (USA) slipped past the short dance leaders to claim the top prize. Alla Loboda & Pavl Drozd (RUS) settled for their third straight Final silver medal. The 2015 Final champions, Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter earned bronze.

Parsons & Parsons danced a contemporary program to Sophia Sin’s vocal “Singing in the Rain” arranged by music innovator Alexander Goldstein. The soft sounds of falling rain, complemented by the steady repetition of piano chords and drumbeats, created a mesmerizing background for their ethereal and seamless performance.

The twizzles, lifts, and spin earned level 4; the diagonal and circular step sequences were level 3. The 95.59 gold medal score was a personal best. The total for both programs was 162.50 points.

“When the marks came up I wasn’t sure it would be enough over all, but we squeaked by, I guess,” Michael said.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Rachel added.

“During the dance, we were trying to live through the program – focus not only on the technical elements, but telling the story as a whole,” Rachel explained.

Loboda & Drozd scored 94.29 with a strong and passionate skate to “Malagueña” that highlighted their speed and intricate moves. The twizzles, combination spin and curve lift earned level 4; the straight-line lift and circular footwork were level 3; and the final diagonal step sequence was level 2. The program component score (49.76) was the highest in the field. The total was 161.87.

“We skated together today – for each other – with all our emotions. It is our last time in the Junior Final,” Drozd shared.

Reigning champions McNamara & Carpenter danced to a David Garrett’s medley of blended classical violin elements and rock that showed off their speed and power. The program received level 4 for the twizzles, lifts, and spin, but the circular and diagonal step sequences were level 2. The total 153.47 score earned the bronze medal.

After the event, Carpenter commented, “We really enjoyed our skate today and over all felt it was strong. Unlike yesterday, there were no fluke bobbles.”

Carreira & Ponomarenko danced a mesmerizing performance to “Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3” by Muse. The youngsters enveloped themselves in the music from the opening note to the closing choreographed spin, while still maintaining poise and technical strength. The spin, lifts and twizzles were level 4; the serpentine and diagonal footwork earned level 3. The program scored 88.59. The total was 149.98. The team was pleased with their performance.

“It’s our first Final, so we wanted to show we deserve to be here,” Ponomarenko explained. “It’s a different atmosphere because all the senior skaters – skating royalty – are here, and we want to learn from them.”

Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron showed great expression with their Russian Gypsy dance program choreographed by Fabian Bourzat and Catherine Papadakis. The highlight was the opening curve lift that garnered strong +2, +3 GOE scores. The lifts, twizzles and spin were level 4 and earned 86.04 points. Their total was 146.12.

“This is our first Grand Prix Final, so it is a new experience for us, and it is even more motivational because it is in France,” Abachkina said.

Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov danced an animated Tarantella Napolitana that scored 81.35. The audience joined in the fun and clapped along to the familiar Italian melody. The spin, lifts, and twizzles were level 4; the footwork earned level 2. The total was 140.64.

“It was just a pleasure to skate here today at such a big competition,” Smirnov said.

“We have come into this competition like it is a festival,” Shpilevaya added. “We are so happy to be here.”