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2014 U.S. National Championships

 Hawayek and Baker Quickstep to a Win in the Short Dance

 by Doris Spicer Pulaski





(7 January 2014)  The quickstep is supposed to be a lively, bright, and happy dance. Kaitlyn Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker's short dance at the 2014 US National Junior Ice Dance Championships was all a classic ballroom Quickstep should be. The duo gave a light-hearted, elegant performance, skating to "Happy Feet” by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen, “It Had To Be You” by Harry Connick, Jr., and “Sing, Sing, Sing” by James Horner as though they hadn't a care in the world. Their sharp footwork, supple knee action, and excellent timing earned the dancers 65.30 points, and a 3.02 point lead over their nearest competitors, Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter. Hawayek & Baker, who are the reigning 2013-2014 Junior Grand Prix Silver Medalists, missed the third key point in one of the two sequences of the Quickstep pattern dance, a tricky section of edging which includes a clear change of edge, which must be achieved with a half a beat only for each edge. The students of Pasquale Camerlengo, Angelika Krylova, and Massimo Scali earned level 4 for their twizzles and rotational lift, level 3 for their midline step sequences, and earned high grades of execution from every judge, and the whole-hearted approval of the audience.

The team in second place, Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter, scored 62.28 points with the exact same technical content as Hawayek & Baker, but the Wheaton Academy students chose a non-traditional presentation of the quickstep. The team danced to a pair of Yiddish songs, "Bublitchki" and "Chiribim Chiribom," performed by The Barry Sisters, and wore costumes more typical of a production of Fiddler on the Roof than of the ballroom. This choreographic production of Elena Novak and Alexei Kiliakov suits the generally quirky style of the 2013 US Junior Ice Dance bronze medalists, but is not, perhaps, a perfect fit for the defined requirements of the quickstep, a fact that may have contributed to them earning a two point lower program components score than Hawayek & Baker.

Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons, training mates of McNamara & Carpenter at Wheaton Academy, are in third place, having earned 59.32 points for their short dance to music from the Funny Girl, including "Don't Rain on My Parade." Parsons & Parsons, like Hawayek & Baker and McNamara & Carpenter, also hit five of the six key points in the two required Quickstep sequences. However, the duo were unable to skate as closely hip to hip as the leaders, and their movements were far too smooth for the bouncy quickstep. They also only received a level 3 for their synchronized twizzles.

The fourth place team, Holly Moore & Daniel Klaber, showed a very good interpretation of the character of the Quickstep, and revealed an equally good connection and interaction between the partners, as they really inhabited the characters from the film Chicago. However, they were not as technically accurate as the three top teams, earning only 56.71 points. They failed to show the correct timing for the first key point in one Quickstep sequence, did not earn credit for two other key points in the second sequence, and only managed a level 3 set of twizzles. Their level 4 rotational lift had the fastest rotational speed, and was perhaps the best lift, of the competition.

Elliana Pogrebinsky & Ross Gudis, another team from Wheaton Academy, danced to a fifth place position with a score of 53.62 points with an amusing routine, choreographed by Novak & Kiliakov, to the theme from "The Pink Panther” by Henry Mancini and “Jumping at the Woodside” by Chacra. Pogrebinsky wore a very fetching costume with a filmy pink underskirt that was revealed at key moments in the program, suggesting that "Pink Panther" theme. A level 4 curve lift and twizzles, in which one set was done with legs extended to the side, were the highlights of Pogrebinsky & Gudis's performance. However, the team missed three of the six key points in the quickstep, and only achieved level 2 in the midline step sequence.

Chloe Lewis & Logan Bye, the 2013 US Novice Ice Dance gold medalists, trail the field by a sizable margin, having scored only 46.35 points for their sixth place showing. The team, who are trained by Judy Blumberg, Igor Shpilband, and Ikaika Young, skated to "Call Me Irresponsible" by Bobby Darin and "Oh Marie," sung by Michael Buble. Unfortunately, they were only given credit for a single key point in the Quickstep Pattern Dance. Bye stumbled during the midline step sequence, which partially accounted for the level 2 and negative grades of execution the duo received for that element. The highlights of their routine were their rotational lift, and their level 4 sequential twizzles.

The seventh place team, Julia Biechler & Damian Dodge, carry a score of 41.08 points into the Free Dance portion of the competition. The team did not hit a single key point in the Quickstep, and received only level 1 for their midline step sequence. The exit from their lift was not smooth either. Their level 4 twizzles were, however, very well executed.

Emily Day & Kevin Leahy lie in eighth place with a score of 38.39 points. Although their routine had technical flaws, it was a pleasant production. The section from "That's Life," where Day does a role reversal move, pulling Leahy up from being, "down on my face,” picks him up so he can get, "back in the race," was very clever.

Sammi Wren & Alexey Shchepetov scored 38.12 points, and are in ninth place. Olivia Di Iorio & Alex Benoit scored 38.01 points for tenth place.