by Anne Calder | Photos by Daphne Backman
The Junior Ice Dance competition included thirteen teams – twelve qualified as the top four at Eastern, Midwestern, and Pacific Coast Sectionals. Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko, the Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists, earned an automatic bye.
The short dance was held at the Solar4America Ice on January 3rd in front of a packed and enthusiastically supportive audience.
The requirements were two sections of the Cha Cha Congelado pattern, skated one after the other, one not touching stepsequence, one set of sequential twizzles, and one short lift.
After the event, the leader board included: Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (68.70), Caroline Green & Gordon Green (63.14), Chloe Lewis & Logan Bye (62.14) and Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville (61.13). Carreira & Ponomarenko earned the only level 4 for both patterns; no team was awarded higher than a level 3 for the not touching step sequence.
Carreira & Ponomarenko had a slight home field advantage, since Anthony was born in San Jose and his family still lives 30 minutes south. His parents, brother, plus a bunch of people from his rink were in the audience. One supporter surprised Anthony.
“The guy who usually does the ice resurfacing here came to watch, and he gave me a hug afterwards,” Ponomarenko said with a smile.
His first thought when the dance ended was “Wow! That was quick. It went by so fast!”
“We are just so happy with our skate,” Carreira added.
There was one stressful thing she wished didn’t happen.
”In the lift, my blade kind of got caught in his pants,” Carreira said.
Ponomarenko just pulled it off, and they continued with the program.
“It was an easy fix,” Ponomaernko added.
The Green siblings (pictured) weren’t sure if they would even skate. Caroline had been quite ill during the days leading up to the event. She was pleased with her brother’s role in the short dance.
“He definitely took more leadership today because I wasn’t at my 100%. I’m really happy that he took over.”
“I was super proud of my sister, and so happy we got to skate,” Gordon added.
Lewis & Bye commented on their performance. Lewis also dealt with the flu bug.
“We felt pretty good about our skate,” Lewis said. “Technically it was strong. We didn’t get a level 4 in part of our pattern, so we can improve that in our next competition. We felt good about the energy it had and just pushing through it.”
“I was really proud of Chloe,” Bye added. “She had a rough time this morning, but she was pretty energetic. We had a few eye contacts through it, and I was very happy.”
Two days later, the Junior Free Dance opened the morning competitions to a sparsely filled, but very supportive crowd at the SAP Center.
The podium remained the same as the Short Dance placements. The medalists were: Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (gold), Caroline Green & Gordon Green (silver), Chloe Lewis & Logan Bye (bronze) and Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville (pewter).
The four teams each earned the same base value for their lifts, twizzles and spin (level 4) and step sequence (level 3). The GOEs separated the teams. Each couple received their highest total score of the season.
Carreira & Ponomarenko had two reasons to celebrate. The duo won their first US Nationals’ gold medal, and it was on Anthony’s 17th birthday. The W.E. soundtrack provided a powerful background to highlight the dancers’ seamless elements and overall strengths.
“We felt the skate today was very clean,” Ponomarenko said. “We were missing a little bit of the emotions that everyone looks for, and we want to improve on that. The audience was very supportive – it’s great to skate for a hometown audience.”
“The ice felt good – the atmosphere felt good,” Carreira added.
The 2017 Junior World bronze medalists scored 159.18 total points. Igor Shpilband, Fabian Bourzat, and Greg Zuerlein coach the team in Novi, Michigan.
The team has its eyes on the gold medal prize at the 2018 World Junior Championships in Bulgaria.
‘The over-all performance needs to be at it’s “A” game,” Ponomarenko said. “If we do that, and skate our best, we have a good chance of getting first place.”
Green & Green danced a mature interpretation of “Polovtsian Dances” from Prince Igor and “Strangers in Paradise” by Sara Brightman.
After the music stopped, Gordon Green pumped his fist high in the air and flashed a huge grin.
“I was really happy,” Gordon explained. “It was one of our best skates all season, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time – the US Nationals with an opportunity to go to Junior Worlds. I was so overcome with emotion.”
The siblings are four-time US Champions, which includes: 2013 juvenile, 2014 intermediate, 2015 and 2016 novice. They made their junior debut in 2017 and placed fifth. Their total silver medal score was 146.72. Alexei Kiliakov, Elena Novak, Dmytri Ilin coach the team in Rockville/Wheaton, Maryland.
Chloe Lewis & Logan Bye won bronze with a lyrical dance to a medley by French-Canadian singer and composer, Coeur de Pirate.
Lewis’ flu symptoms accelerated overnight, but she was truly motivated since she loves to have something to fight through anyway. Both were pleased with the outcome.
“There was a lot of satisfaction in our program,” Bye said. “There is a point where you want to give it everything you can. When you finish you want to be able to say that you did everything and there’s nothing else you could do. It felt like that happened.”
“We are just proud with how much we’ve improved and were able to put it out there,” Lewis added.
The 2016 Youth Olympic silver medalists scored a total 143.21 points.
Lewis & Bye teamed up in 2010, were 2013 Novice Champions, and in 2014 began working full time with Igor Shpilband in Novi, MI. Two months ago they moved 18 miles down Interstate 275 to Canton, where they now train with Marina Zoueva, Johnny Johns, Oleg Epstein, and Massimo Scali.
Lewis commented on their move. “We just had to change it up. Sometimes you have to do that if you’re stuck in a rut. It’s working well for us. We love it.”
Bye discussed their new approach to skating. “We are concentrating on control – being more mature in the way we skate, in our own relationship, and the characters we are portraying”
After the change to Zoueva, they kept the same programs, but altered some of the choreography.
“The base is similar and a lot of Igor’s choreography is still there; it’s pretty equal with the amounts of change we made,” Lewis explained.
Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville danced a fast moving and snappy Flamenco program that opened with the familiar sounds of clapping hands and clicking castanets. The team had the second highest technical mark (39.09) of the medalists, but an unfortunate fall between elements by both dancers, resulted in a mandatory -2.00 deduction.
The 2016 Lake Placid Ice Dance International bronze medalists earned a 138.90 total. Alexei Kiliakov, Elena Novak, Dmytri Ilin and Ramil Sarkulov coach the team in Rockville/Wheaton, Maryland.
2018 World Junior Championships – Sofia Bulgaria – March 5-11.
Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko
Caroline Green/Gordon Green
Chloe Lewis/Logan Bye
Alternate 1 – Eliana Gropman/Ian Somerville
Alternate 2 – Avonley Nguyen/Vadym Kolesnik
Alternate 3 – Emma Gunter/Caleb Wein