by Anne Calder | Photo by Daphne Backman

The 2020 US National Figure Skating Championships are being competed this week in Greensboro, NC. The city previously hosted the event in 2011 and 2015.

Rhythm Dance

Tuesday evening, fourteen junior teams performed their rhythm dance to musicals and/or operettas. Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik, Molly Cesanek & Yehor Yehorov, Oona Brown Gage Brown and Katarina Wolfkostin & Jeffrey Chen posted the top four scores.

Nguyen & Kolesnik, who train with Igor Shpilband in Novi, MI, won gold at the USA and Poland JGPs followed by silver at the JGP Final. The team was second at the 2019 Championships. They earned a personal best 74.49 score to Aladdin.

“My goal was a little bit beyond 70; that’s what I was expecting, but we skated better than that, and I’m happy,” Kolesnik said.

Cesanek & Yehorov train in Rockville, MD with the WISA coaches. The team won the bronze medal at the 2019 Lake Placid IDI. They also competed at the 2019 JGP Latvia (6), JGP Croatia (6) and were second at the Dance Final. They were fifth at the 2019 US Championships. In the rhythm dance, they scored a season-high 66.13 points to Gershwin’s, My One and Only.

“Since the last competition, we worked on everything to make every element, every little detail nice, beautiful and clean,” Yehorov said.

Brown & Brown train with Inese Bucevica and Joel Dear in Hackensack, NJ. The team placed fourth at the 2019 Lake Placid IDI. They also competed at the 2019 JGP Russia (7), JGP Italy (5), and were fourth at the Dance Final. The siblings finished fourth at the 2019 US Nationals. Their rhythm dance music was The Boy From Oz and scored a season’s best 64.91.

“That component number we’ve tried to get better, and I feel we accomplished that tonight, so I feel pretty good about our skate,” Gage said.

Wolfkostin & Chen partnered in 2019 and train in Novi, MI with Igor Shpilband. The team competed at the JGP France (5), JGP Russia (4) and won the Dance Final. The recent bronze medalists at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland scored 60.93 to The Boy From Oz.

“I’m honestly not sure what happened in the pattern [misstep],” Wolfkostin said. “The rest of it felt pretty good. The twizzles were in sync; the footwork was all right.”

Free Dance

Wednesday on the final leader board, the second and fourth teams from the rhythm dance exchanged places in the standings, while the first and third couples remained the same.

Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik remained in first place with a seamless and mesmerizing dance to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 2. The JGP Final silver medalists earned all level 4 elements. The close finish at the JGP Final certainly affected their pre-Nationals training. The result was two personal best scores – the 109.89 segment and the 184.38 total. In addition, they topped the next team of competitors by over 22 points.

“We were upset about that [JGPF] because it was so close,” Kolesnik said.

“We were disappointed, but it pushed us to work even harder,” Nguyen added.

In their first season together, Katarina Wolfkostin & Jeffrey Chen, vaulted from fourth to second with a moving dance to a Sam Smith medley. The level 4 spin, lifts and twizzles helped them score a personal best 100.46. The final total was 161.39 points. The silver medalists were happy with their performance.

“Tonight went very well. We skated clean. It felt smooth. We got most of our levels and we’re always improving,” Wolfkostin said.

“Going out there, having fun, enjoying the experience here was really great,” Chen added.

Oona Brown & Gage Brown maintained their rhythm dance third place and won the bronze medal with a striking presentation of “Bloodstream” by Tokio Myers and “Air” by Jan Werner. The siblings earned all level 4 elements and tied the leaders with a 40.93 base value mark. The segment 95.63 and 160.54 scores were personal bests. The team shared one of their season goals.

“It’s definitely a goal of ours to make it to the Junior Worlds. We were very close last year and we’re really hoping this year will be different. Hopefully, we’ll make it there,” Gage said.

Molly Cesanek & Yehor Yehorov danced a very dramatic program to “Make it Rain” and “Take Me to Church” by Matt McAndrew. The team earned level 4 lifts, spin and twizzles. Unfortunately, they earned no base value or GOEs for the Choreographic Step Sequence and landed in fourth place with 92.96 points. The pewter medalists’ total 159.09 was a personal best score.

“We are a little disappointed that one of our technical elements didn’t count, and we lost points in our total score,” Yehorov said. “We could be in a different position.”

Cesanek continued, “This is just another step. This isn’t where it ends. It’s not just about today; it’s about the future.”

Katarina Del Camp & Ian Somerville were fifth in both the rhythm and free dances. Their total score of 148.59 was a personal best. The team partnered up just eight months ago.

“Getting used to each other’s skating has been the easiest part,” Somerville said.  “It’s been mostly how our personalities work together to get things done. We’ve done a really good job this season and can only get better.”

Molly Cesanek & Yehor Yehorov and Katarina Del Camp & Ian Somerville have been assigned to the Egna Dance Trophy in Italy February 7-9.