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2014 U.S. National Championships

Gigi & Luca Becker Have a Two Point Lead After the Novice Pattern Dances

 by Doris Spicer Pulaski





(6 January 2014)  Gigi Becker, age 11, and Luca Becker, age 13, finished second in all three segments of the Novice Ice Dance competition at the 2014 Eastern Sectionals, but today, following an outstanding performance in the Viennese Waltz Pattern Dance, the Wheaton Academy students will start the Free Dance with a two point lead over fellow Wheaton students, Eliana Gropman, age 12, & Ian Somerville, age 13, the gold medalists at the 2014 Novice Ice Dance Competition at Eastern Sectionals.

The Beckers trailed Gropman & Somerville by a little less than a point following the Argentine Tango. Gropman & Somerville had hit every key point in the Argentine, while the Beckers missed the clean change of edge required to set up the man's counter in Step 10 in the second sequence, and had also failed to execute step thirteen correctly in both sequences. However, the Beckers, who finished fourth at the 2013 US National Figure Skating Championships in Novice Dance, rebounded in the Viennese Waltz. Skating to "Mr. Bojangles, written by Jerry Jeff Walker, the Beckers, whose costumes were a symphony in blues, moved fluidly across the ice, hitting every key point except for Luca Becker's open Choctaw in the first sequence.

Meanwhile, Ian Somerville failed to execute the Man's closed Choctaw in all 3 sequences of the Viennese Waltz, dropping Gropman & Somerville, who skated to a tinkly music box type of waltz, to third place in the Viennese Waltz part of the Pattern Dance competition, and second place overall. The Beckers total score for the two Pattern Dances is 57.31 points, while Gropman & Somerville have 55.31 points.

Third place is currently held by Danielle Thomas & Alexander Martin, both of the Detroit SC. Thomas is a former singles skater. Martin partnered with Sierra Chadwick last year to place seventh at the 2013 US National Figure Skating Championships. This new team formed less than a year ago, and finished first at their very first competition as a team, the 2013 Midwestern Sectionals, an amazing accomplishment. While Thomas, age 14, and Martin, age 17, had difficulties with the Argentine Tango, and were able to earn only 23.42 points, due to missing the timing in the first key point of the first sequence, and missing overall six of the 12 total key points for the dance. However, the students of Massimo Scali skated a smooth, lilting, and powerful Viennese Waltz to Roger and Hammerstein's song "Falling In Love With Love," earning 26.49 points and second place in the Viennese Waltz, for a total of 49.91 points overall, although they did slow and falter a bit on the third sequence.

Sarah Feng, age 14, & Anthony Ponomarenko, age 13, currently lie in fourth place. The winners of the 2014 Pacific Coast Sectionals are coached by Ponomarenko's mother, renowned ice dancer, Marina Klimova, and by Igor Shpilband. Feng & Ponomarenko had difficulties with the Argentine Tango, finishing fifth in that portion of the competition. The team missed nine of twelve key points in the dance, which included Feng missing the open Mohawk in both the first and third sequence. However, the teenagers pulled up to fourth overall in the Viennese Waltz, missing four of nine key points in that dance to earn a total score of 45.68.

Fifth place is held by Gwen Sletten, age 12, & Elliot Verburg, age 14, who are also Wheaton Academy students, as are Becker & Becker. Sletten & Verburg were only able to manage seventh place in the Argentine Tango after missing seven of twelve key points, but pulled up to fifth after the Viennese Waltz, to achieve a total score of 42.29. The team made an interesting appearance, waltzing in green floral outfits, to Owl City's song, "Plant Life."

Payten Howland, age 14, and Jason Cohn, age 16, are currently in sixth place. Howland & Cohn, , are coached by Deborah Dodge-Howe, are both members of the Detroit Skating Club. Howland & Cohn performed consistently, finishing sixth in both pattern dances, with a total score of 41.57 points. They performed their Viennese Waltz to "This Is the Time of My Life," performed by David Cook. Howland & Cohn are less than a point ahead of the seventh place couple, Maeve Pascoe & Micah Jaffe, who are the 2014 Midwestern Sectionals silver medalists. Pascoe & Jaffe currently have 41.54 points. The two seventeen-year-olds are coached by Yuri Chesnichenko, Yasa Netcheva, Jackie Miles, and Chip Rossbach.