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2013 U.S. National Championships

Tomoko Hiwatashi Gives Flawless Performance to Win Novice Men's Event

by Doris Spicer Pulaski

Oleksiy Melnyk

Nicholas Vrdoljak

Daniel Samohin

(21 January 2013)

Tomoki Hiwatashi finished second in the free skate at the 2013 U.S. National Novice Men’s Championship with a score of 103.24, but his combined score for the short program and the free skate, 155.29 points, earned him the victory and the gold medal.

Tomaki Hiwatashi

Hiwatashi, skating to “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss II, stepped on the ice, costumed in a bowtie, a black tuxedo, and a cummerbund, and tapped an invisible baton to conduct an imaginary orchestra. The musicality of this thirteen-year old maestro completely engaged the crowd, who gave him a standing ovation at the end of his performance, in which every move was on a beat of the music.

Hiwatashi completed every one of his elements with positive grades of execution. Particularly impressive were his three level 4 spins, which even earned him several +3 grades of execution from the judges, and a level 4 step sequence that many senior competitors might envy. The student of 1985 World Champion, Alexander Fadeev and of Cydele Fadeeva, did not win the free skate because his execution of his elements or his performance skills failed him. The winner of the 2013 Midwestern Regional Novice Men’s Championship has not yet included any of the harder triple jumps in his program, in which he completed a triple toe loop combination, a triple toe-half loop-double flip sequence, a triple Salchow, and a triple Salchow-double toe combination.

The free skate was won by Oleksiy Melnyk, of the Washington FSC, with a score of 103.72 points. However, his total score, 152.99, was only enough to secure him the silver medal. His free skate to “Ancient Lands” by Ronan Hardiman started auspiciously, with a tidy triple Lutz with particularly nice air position and a triple loop. The fifteen-year old from Reston, VA, then attempted a triple toe-triple toe combination, but he under-rotated the second jump and fell.

The rest of the routine was top-notch, and his coaches, Serguei Kouznetsov and Nataliya Tymoshenko should be very proud. His last two spins were particularly nice, fast and well-centered, and the judges rewarded him for them. However, his third place finish, and consequent lower score in the short program cost him the win.

Nicholas Vrdoljak, of the DuPage FSC, finished second in the short program and third in the free skate to accumulate a total score of 139.11 points and nab the bronze medal. Choreographer Phillip Mills had created a program for Vrdoljak to the soundtrack from ‘The Man in the Iron Mask” by Nick Glennie-Smith that highlighted the sixteen-year old’s strengths: speed and power, but Vrdoljak made too many errors during his performance. The Westmont, IL, teenager, who trains with coaches Cindy Caprel and Kristen Mita started well, with a huge triple toe-triple toe combination, but he followed that by popping a planned triple flip-double toe combination to a single flip-double toe, and later in the program, fell on a second triple flip, and stepped out of a triple Lutz. To add insult to injury, Vrdoljak received edge calls on both his flips.

Daniel Samohin, the fourth place finisher in the short program, also had a difficult time in his free skate to “Hip Hop Tango,” choreographed by his mother, Irina Samohina. Samohin still managed to finish fourth in the free program and fourth overall, with a score of 135.07 to claim the pewter medal. Samohin fell on his triple Lutz and his triple loop, incurring a -2.00 point penalty. The fourteen-year old from Lake Arrowhead, who is coached by his father, Igor Samohin, also struggled with his triple Lutz-double toe combination, finishing the element with a wildly swinging free leg. The teen’s best element was his opening double Axel.

Daniel Kulenkamp, of St. Paul FSC, finished fifth in the short program, but was only able to manage a seventh place finish in the free skate, and a total score of 123.84, to finish fifth overall. Luke West, of Plattsburgh, NY, finished seventh in the short program. His fifth place result in the free skate helped him rebound to attain a total score of 123.75, just 0.09 points behind Kulenkamp, to finish in sixth place for the event.

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