Northern Lights #22: Cup of China Recap and Sectionals Begin

2012-1108-1Before you begin reading this post, I want you to think of something. Think of one of your favourite skating performances, one that is highly emotional for you. Or think of a few. If you’re as emotional as me, a hundred such skates probably come to mind. But pick one, and think about it for a bit. Take a few minutes to watch it on Youtube, if you can. I’ve got mine.

Okay, ready? Let’s talk Canadian skating, shall we?

Another Bronze for Weaver & Poje
Last week, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje  (pictured, right)brought home the bronze medal from Cup of China. It was their third medal of the season and their second bronze from the Grand Prix Series. They did a good job and skated without major mistakes, improving on a few things from Skate America, but unfortunately, a pair of bronze medals probably will not be enough to make the Grand Prix Final. It usually takes at least one silver medal in ice dance to qualify for the Final.

Like Skate America, Kaitlyn & Andrew were in second after the short dance. They scored 65.59 points in China, just two-tenths off of their Skate America mark. They corrected the twizzle mistake, moving from a level 3 to a level 4 on that element, and overall, it was a very strong dance. I’m still not crazy about cramming half the songs from The Sound of Music into a short dance, but I like the concept, and I liked the changes to the dress. The first one was fine as well, but the new dress bounces more, which is just what I want from a Yankee Polka.

Kaitlyn & Andrew were almost an identical position for the free dance that they had at Skate America, even down to having the same team, Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev of Russia, on their heels. Kaitlyn & Andrew increased their free dance score by almost 2 points, from 91.53 to 93.38. They improved some technical issues, still having trouble with the spin, but raising their levels on the circular steps and twizzles, but they lost ground on components, falling behind the Russian team this time. This isn’t the end of the world, of course, but I think that it’s something worth noting, and I’m wondering if it has to do with emotional impact.

Think back to the performance that you had in mind from the beginning of the post. I’m not inside your head (unless you’re my best friend…then I probably am), so I can’t speak for you, but the programs that come to mind for me all have heightened emotions or emotional circumstances surrounding them. I really like the concept of Kaitlyn & Andrew’s, but I haven’t been really pulled into the last two performances of it. I want to be involved in it, but it’s felt a little flat to me. I spent last season completely wrapped up in every single outing of their free dance, so it’s not that I don’t want to be there. I just can’t put my finger on exactly what it is.

I love that they’re doing something different. I don’t want to criticize them for this choice. I just want to see them continue growing this program in the second half of the season. I know they have it in them, and I am looking forward to seeing it come out a little better.

Sectionals, Part One
Two of the sectionals with the deepest fields were held last weekend, with a few interesting results.

2012-1108-2The junior level in Central Ontario had a few surprises. None of the teams scored as well as I expected them to, and the teams did a little bit of shuffling in the free dance. Katie Desveaux & Dmitre Razgulajevs won the short dance and the overall title, but were second in the free dance to training mates Nicole Kuzmich & Jordan Hockley. Both of the teams missed a few levels, but it doesn’t look like either had major errors in the free. Haili Moyer & Aaron Chapplain (pictured, left) came back from a disappointing short and finished third in the free with pretty strong levels, aside from a minor error on the twizzles. They even had a level 3 circular step sequence, but it wasn’t enough to overtake their training mates, Lauren Collins & Danny Seymour. Lauren & Danny had a rough outing, with a large error on the twizzles and a fall on the final choreographic lift. 

Jaimie Clarke & Matthew Webb won the novice level, but were entered as guests, so the novice Central Ontario champions are Cristina Monopoli & Lucas Kitteridge.

The pre-novice level was very competitive, with lots of movement and all four teams finishing within ten points of each other. In the end, it was Hannah Whitley & Elliott Graham who triumphed, with Victoria Oliver & Charles Waddell taking the silver medal, and Priya Ramesh & Brandon Labelle earning bronze. Kaitlin Stitz & George Waddell were just off the podium this time. All four teams should be competitive at Challenge, which serves as the national competition for pre-novices.

The juvenile teams do not go on to Challenge, but it was so exciting to see seven teams on the roster from a single section. Nice work, COS! I look forward to seeing these kids develop. Tsina Clemente & Gabriel Clemente won the juvenile title with an even 50 points, a benchmark rarely seen at this level.

Four teams competed at the pre-juvenile level, with Erica Li & Jonathan Lysenko taking the gold medal. 

In Québec, the senior-level champions were Élisabeth Paradis & François-Xavier Ouellette, who had a strong competition (SD, FD), earning 133.63 points. Mélissande Dumas & David Mackay Perry also continued to show improved consistency this year, scoring 108.07 (SD, FD). Shanna René de Cotret-Laporte & Alexandre Laliberté withdrew from the competition.

Melinda Meng & Andrew Meng won the junior title with a score of 120.00 (SD, FD). This is about what I expected from them, and I think that they did a nice job. Their training mates, Carolane Soucisse & Simon Tanguay followed in second with 112.11 points (SD, FD). Christina Penkov & Simon Proulx Senécal won the bronze medal, scoring 109.53 (SD, FD). They have gelled nicely for a new team, especially considering that Christina moved up from the novice level and moved to a new province as well.

The novice level saw a lot of movement. Christina Carreira & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette were trailing Laura-Maude Verret & William Lavictoire after the compulsories, but leapt ahead in the free dance, as they tend to do, to finish first with a total of 89.51 points (FD). Marie-Jade Lauriault & Pierre-Richard Chiasson are finally back strong after injury (I assume) kept them from competing at Canadians last year. They won the silver medal with 78.65 points (FD. Valerie Taillefer & Jason Chan were third, scoring 78.31 (FD). Catherine Daigle-Roy & Alexis St-Louis delivered after a slow start to the season and wound up fourth, earning 77.40 points (FD). Verret & Lavictoire struggled in the free dance, but still managed fifth place. Caroline Falardeau & Simon Dazé, Camille Mondor & Stefan Dyck, and Emily Valentine & Simon Desrochers rounded out the top eight teams heading to Regina, Sask., for Challenge next month.

Sabrina Bédard & Zoé Duval-Yergeau (FD) leapt to the front of the field to win the pre-novice gold medal with a score of 66.99 . Alycia O’Leary & Oliver Grutter were a strong second place with 58.80 (FD). Sara Marier & Anthony Campanelli were third with 53.31 (FD). 

Québec holds two separate sectional championships, “A” and “B.” Developmental levels, including juvenile and pre-juvenile dancers, will compete at the “B” championships, which are held at the end of January.

In Alberta, Courtney Royer & Steven Paslawsky won the junior title with a of 91.42. Courtney Baay & Nicholas Toth were second with 86.45 points, and Jayde Stewart & Dayton Stewart won the bronze medal with 72.41 points.

Abigail Seewald & Jared Fell won the novice title, earning 69.21 points. Ashley Wood & Alexander Hartwell were second, and Michaela Milne & Randy Mendita were third.

2012-1108-3This Week in Moscow
The Grand Prix headed to Moscow this week Rostelecom Cup. Eight teams will compete for medals, ranking points, and prestige in Russia, and they will be led by Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir. Tessa & Scott only had a week off between events, and I am especially anxious to see if they fixed the technical issues in the short dance. I don’t expect major changes, but they did say that a new lift should be expected. I’d actually like to see something a little less frantic that fits the waltz better, but they have been such fans of the complicated, flipping, twisting variety of lifts lately. We’ll see soon enough! The free dance didn’t need much, just more mileage and a few tweaks, but of course I am looking forward to the second outing as they continue to develop the program. 

Speaking of development, Canada is also represented by Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams (pictured, right), who will be making their Grand Prix début. Nicole & Thomas haven’t competed since August, so I am just as excited to see them on the ice again as I am to see their GP debut. It’s been a long wait since the summer competitions for them, but I know that they have been working hard and are looking forward to this. Being the new kids on the block is always a bit of an uphill battle, but this the same team that spent a good chunk of last season running both junior and senior programs everyday—they are not quick to back down from a challenge.

This Week at Home
Sectionals wrap up this weekend in Canada, with dance events in BC, Western Ontario, and Eastern Ontario.

Some of the top teams will not compete in BC, but JGP competitors Caelen Dalmer & Shane Firus are on the roster and should easily win the event. This will also be our first look at the new junior team of Jessica Jiang & Eric Streichsbier. Jiang won the novice bronze medal at Challenge last year with partner Nikolas Wamsteeker, but an injury to Nikolas kept them out of Nationals. He then decided to leave the sport in June, putting Jessica back in the partner search rather late in the game. Fortunately, Eric Streichsbier was also looking, and they teamed up a couple of months ago.

At the novice level, it will be great to see Danielle Wu & Spencer Soo again. Based on summer competitions, they appeared to be one of the top teams in Canada at this level. Alexa Linden & Tyler Miller and Andie-Lynn Gingrich & Liam Kinrade are also scheduled to compete. Brianna Delmaestro & Graeme Gordon had also registered for Sectionals, but they are not on the start order.

As usual, BC/YT Sectionals are being streamed online. A link is posted each day on their website. 

Western Ontario Sectionals will hold small dance events in the upper levels. Jade Marrow & Benjamin Mulder are the only junior team registered. Two novice teams are registered, and they should be led by Ekaterina Fedyushchenko & Jean-Luc Jackson. The exciting story, however, is that like Central Ontario, Western Ontario has seven juvenile teams registered for Sectionals. What a great opportunity for development!

Finally, Eastern Ontario Sectionals will also hold a couple of dance events. Samantha Glavine & Jeff Hough are the only junior team planning to compete at Sectionals. Three novice teams are registered, including the new pairing of Abby Savoie & Tanner White. Savoie qualified for Canadians last year with former partner Dennis Romanenko, while White competed at the Dutch National Championships with former partner Auvikki de Boon.

Sorry about another long post this week, but I wanted to cover everything! I haven’t been remembering to leave my email at the end of posts lately, but as always, you can direct questions or comments to me at [email protected], or feel free to hit me up on Facebook.