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2013 U.S. National Championships

Tomoko Hiwatashi Gives Flawless Performance to Win Novice Short Program

 by Doris Spicer Pulaski





(20 January 2013)   Tomoko Hiwatashi, of the DuPage FSC, celebrated his thirteenth birthday in style at the US Figure Skating Championships in Omaha.  The Hoffman Estate, IL, skater made his hometown proud by winning the Novice Men's Short program with a score of  52.05. Costumed as a tiny engineer in overalls, and sporting an orange bandana around his neck, the 2011 US Intermediate Menís champion skated with verve, flexibility, and quickness of foot to "Orange Blossom Special," in a routine where he mimed listening for the train, and cheering when the whistle was blown.  Hiwatashi did completed his  solo triple toe and his triple Salchow-double toe combination with good runout on the landings for positive GOE's, but it was his level four step sequence that was the most memorable part of his routine, absolutely everything a fine step sequence should be.  His flexibility allowed him to not only earn level 4 for both is spins; it allowed him to make them unique with interesting positions, especially in his change-foot sit spin. 

Tomoki Hiwatashi

Nicholas Vrdoljak, also of the DuPage FSC, finished second to Hiwatashi with a score of 49.53, skating to "Sand and Water.The student of Cindy Caprel and Kristen Mita returned to US Nationals Novice competition in hopes of improving on his 2012 seventh place finish.  The sixteen-year old completed a triple Lutz and a triple flip-double toe combination, more difficult jumps than Hiwatashi's.  However, his triple flip received an edge call.  His best element was a high, softly landed double Axel. , and his change-foot sit spin was level four.  At the end of his program, his coaches could be heard pronouncing his performance, "Awesome."

 Third place in the short program was earned by Oleksiy Melnyk of the Washington FSC with a score  49.27.   Melnyk is coached by his mother, Nataliya Tymoshenko, and by Serguei Kouznetsov.    The fifteen-year old has made great improvements since his eleventh place finish in the US Novice Championships last year, winning Eastern Sectionals and placing third here.  His strength is in his jumps.  He landed a nice triple Lutz-double toe combination with  good control on Lutz, but a slightly flawed landingon the double toe loop resulted in some negative marks for the element.  His triple flip could have been higher, but rated a positive GOE from all but two of the judges.

Fourteen-year old Daniel Samohin of the Los Angeles FSC scored 47.67 points to take fourth place in the short program.   Samohin is coached by his father, Igor Samohin, the former coach of the Israeli skating team.  Daniel's older brother, Stanislav Samohin, has been competing as a senior in Russia in the Russian Cup Series. The Pacific sectionals champion had problems with his triple Lutz and put a hand down on the landing of his double Axel, but his triple Salchow-double toe combination was very well done, and earned the bonus for being completed late in his program.  A wobbly entry to his combination spin earned a few negative marks, as did a small stumble on his step sequence.

Daniel Kulenkamp, of the St. Paul FSC, skated energetically to the "Beetlejuice" soundtrack, and earned 44.76 points to finish in fifth place.  Kulenkamp's main problems were with a low, and barely rotated triple flip which was marked down severely, and the fact that his combination was only a triple toe-double toe.

Sixth place was taken by Paolo Borromeo of the Palm Beach, FSC, skating to "The Matrix" soundtrack.  The fourteen-year old student of Tiffany Chin and Derrick Delmore scored 43.65 points.  His triple Salchow was severely marked down due to a poor landing edge, and he too only had a triple toe loop - double toe loop for his jump combination.  His step sequence showed good interpretation and the combination spin s bit more creativity than the other skaters.

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