Home Archive Photos Slideshows Database


2014 U.S. National Championships

Hawayek and Baker Win Junior Dance

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany

(10 January 2014)   The Detroit area with several important ice dance schools has been the capital of US and even world wide ice dancing for years. Therefore is was no surprise that this year’s winners in Junior Ice Dance at Nationals are training in the renowned Detroit Skating Club. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker are coached by Pasquale Camerlengo, Angelika Krylova and Massimo Scali in a big school with sometimes 15 or more couples from all over the world. After being seventh at last season’s Junior Worlds they had won their ISU Junior Grand Prix in Mexico and Poland and were second at the Junior Final in Japan in December. Baker is the son of the 1985-1988 British national ice dance champion Sharon Jones (they were 13th at the Olympics in Calgary) and of the British pair skater Steven Baker. Their special strength are the deep edges and their high speed.

In the short dance to the well-known Foxtrot and Quickstep music pieces “Happy Feet”, “It had to Be You” and “Sing, sing, sing” they gave an excellent performance, gaining a level 4 in three of the five elements and a level 3 on the non-touch midline step sequence and the second quickstep sequence. “Our goal certainly is to get a level 4 on all elements”, Hawayek said. Eight of the nine judges gave them program components between 7 and 8.25. Only one judge did not did their program because he gave them only a 4.75 for transitions, low other points and did not have any of the three medalists in the top two, but the two couples who ended up fourth and fifth.

Hawayek’s and Baker’s free dance to the soundtrack of “Amelie” was not faultless. Therefore they increased their lead only by one point and won with 152.26 points. Their first highlight was an excellent and motorcycle-like deep curve lift which shows Baker’s feeling for balance and which eight of the nine judge scored with a +3. But then Hawayek fell on the second part of their twizzle sequence. She admitted: “Personally, I made a mistake on the twizzles. It was probably one of those lapses of judgment. The ice is slippery."

But they recovered quickly and continued with three very good level 4 elements (two lifts and a spin) and two level 3 step sequences for which the majority of the judge awarded a +2. But at the end their choreographic lift was a bit shaky and sloppy. Baker summarized their feelings: ”We did make mistakes here and there, and we had ups and downs. But overall, we did our job and we are certainly happy about the result. We have not decided yet if we skate juniors or seniors next season. Maybe the rules are changed and the age limit for the men goes down. In that case I would age out of juniors anyway.”

In spite of still being dominant especially among the seniors, the ice dancers of the Detroit area cannot no longer sure to dominate US ice dancing alone in the country. The Wheaton Ice Skating Academy (WISA) in Maryland under the leadership of Alexei Kiliakov is getting stronger and stronger and had three junior teams in the top five. It best representatives won silver and bronze at Juniors this time with 147.50 points. Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter, only 14 and 17 years old, had been first and second at their Junior Grand Prix in Belarus and in Latvia and were third at the Junior Grand Prix Final GP Final. They convinced the judges and the public in Boston as well. Their interesting short dance to Yiddish songs by the Barry Sisters had three level 4 and two level three. Carpenter commented: "I think we are pretty satisfied, especially with the technical side. It was all which we expected. We've really worked hard on that." Carpenter plays a Yiddish baker searching for a lover, with a pretzel-like baked piece. "The first piece of music is called 'Bublitchki Bagelach,' Carpenter explained. “The idea is she is a beautiful woman, and I am less fortunate in terms of money and trying to sell Bublitchki to her. In the second half (the Quickstep), we come together and fall in love." The second part of the music is called “Chiribim, Chiriborn” by the Barry sisters.

They were third in the free dance, but kept their second overall position, this time dancing to soundtracks of Sherlock Holmes and The Godfather’s Waltz. One lift, the spin and the twizzle sequence got a level 4, the sidelong lift level 3 and the two step sequences and the curve lift level 2. Their choreographic lift at the end was quite impressive. McNamara commented: “We did a really clean skate. We always try to tell a story and to do something powerful. We were inspired by the Sherlock Holmes movie. I play him, she plays Irene Adler. I'm searching for her, trying to figure out where she is and whether she is on my side or not."

McNamara’s and Carpenter’s training mates Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons won the bronze medal with 145.78 points. The 16 and 18 year old brother-and-sister team had been second at their two Junior Grand Prix in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and sixth at the Junior Final in Fukuoka, Japan. Skating to different music pieces of “Funny Girl” in the short dance, they had three time a level 4 and two times (one quickstep section and the non-touch midline step sequence) a level 3. Their highlight was the rotational lift. Rachel Parsons explained: “We have been working on the quickstep a lot in practice, trying to get all the key points. I think it went well."

In their free dance to several pieces of “The Twilight Saga” they had the highest technical score of all teams. Rachel said: "There was a lot of discussion on what music we should skate to. It's about our journey to find each other. We're brother and sister, so we don't have that romantic love." Five elements had a level 4 and only the two step sequences a level 3. Two of their three lifts were especially strong and got several +3. The twizzle sequence was in perfect harmony.

Holly Moore and Daniel Klaber from the Detroit Skating Club ended up fourth with 136.99 points. Their short dance to music various pieces of the musical Chicago contained an excellent rotational lift. In the faultless free dance, they danced to a Latin medley of Perez Prado, getting four level 4 and three level 2 on their elements. Again their lifts were the best ones. Elliana Pogrebinsky and Ross Gudia, another team from the WISA school in Maryland, ended up on fifth position, earning 129.50 points. Their best element in the free dance was the spin. Chloe Lewis and Logan Bye are sixth with 122.14 points. They are only 13 and 15 years old, very promising for the future and coached by Judy Blumberg in Portland, Oregon and by Igor Shpilband in their school holidays.