Recap: 2024 U.S. Championships – Novice

by Anne Calder

The five highest scoring Novice teams from the November Ice Dance Final were invited to compete at the 2024 U.S. National Championship’s. Novice teams had previously competed at the annual event from 1991 to 2019.

The competition was held at the NHL Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, January 21-28. The NHL hockey ice was adapted for the USFS figure skating competition.

According to a Nationwide Arena employee, the rink technicians put plastic over the NHL ice and then added an inch and a quarter of water to build it up. This process was done to prevent chipping that would have occurred if the skaters’ blades had landed on the harder NHL ice. The new ice temperature was also maintained five degrees warmer than the NHL.

The Novice teams skated prior to the Junior dancers in front of an official technical panel and judges who awarded them marks using the International Judging System (IJS).

The first night, teams competed their Starlight Waltz and Rocker Foxtrot patterns. The free dances were skated the following day. In the evening, medals were awarded on center ice to the four highest scoring teams.

The Novice ice dancers had many reactions to skating on official ice under the bright lights of the large arena. IDC asked them to share their thoughts.

Jasmine Robertson and Cooper Cornwell

Jasmine: It was incredible having the audience and skating for myself.

Cooper: The ice is a little different from what we’ve skated on before. Obviously, there are no lines and no markings. A lot of skaters begin their elements, their starting positions and patterns on the lines, so it was definitely a challenge to adjust to these changes. 

Anaelle Kouevi and Yann Homawoo

Anaelle: It was very surreal! I remember coming to the Championships and telling myself that I wanted to be on the National stage, but I never knew it would be this soon. It was a very inspiring moment to get here at a very young age.

Yann: It was very exciting and surreal. I didn’t think I’d be here so quickly.

Clara Fugate and Warren Fugate

Clara: It was a whole new experience. It was so different. It was so great! I want to do this the rest of my life. I want to be in a stadium and have the lights on me with everybody watching – all the people – tons of people.

Warren: It was a lot of fun. The crowd and everything was so much different than a normal competition.

Michelle Deych and Ryan Hu

Michelle: It’s super exciting being in this big arena and having this experience. Doing it for the last time in the season was a good feeling. The arena is much bigger with stands every where – something you have to get use to.

Ryan: It’s my first time skating in a big arena, and it made me nervous at first. As I got into the program, I looked around and saw my friends and my parents in the stands. It just made me feel happy.  At first it was harder skating on the ice, but it’s like that when you go to a new rink.

Ja Yi Kirwan and Drake Tong

Ja Yi: It was amazing. I really loved all the energy that came off the people. Even though there weren’t many watching, I still felt it, and I really enjoyed it. The ice was a little crunchy. It’s hard to explain.

Drake: It feels amazing to skate in such a spectacular place. As for the ice, you could definitely hear the skaters’ edges coming off about ten rows up.

Michelle Deych & Ryan Hu

Anaelle Kouevi & Yann Homawoo

Ja Yi Kirwan & Drake Tong

Clara Fugate & Warren Fugate