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2014 U.S. National Championships

  Rydberg Has a Narrow Lead after the 2014 Novice Ladies Short Program

 by Doris Spicer Pulaski





(5 January 2014)  Paige Rydberg' s courage in putting all of her triple jumps into the second half of her clever program to "Perfidia" by Alberto Dominguez really paid off. The strategy boosted the score of the Northern Ice SC skater to 45.16 points, and compensated for the fact that Rydberg has only mastered the two easiest triple jumps, the triple toe loop and the triple Salchow. Rydberg, who is coached by Mary A. Antensteiner, has a narrow lead of less than a point over her two nearest competitors at the 2014 US National Novice Ladies Championships after the Short Program. The fourteen-year-old earned level 4 for both her spins, level 3 for her step sequence, and completed a very nice double Axel, entered from a spiral, and immediately followed by a stag jump, and a triple Salchow-double toe combination. Her triple toe loop was not as well rewarded, but still earned positive grades of execution overall. It is likely that the lack of the harder triples may cause her to fail to achieve first place in the Free Skate, but for the moment, Rydberg is in the lead.

Rebecca Peng , from the Skating Club of Boston, trails Rydberg by less than a point, with a score of 44.24. Energized by skating in front of her home crowd, even though taking the ice immediately after Rydberg skated, the bronze medalist from the 2014 Eastern Sectionals Championships completed a triple loop, a double Axel, a level 3 layback spin, and a level 4 change-foot combination spin. Peng, who is coached by Peter Johansson and Mark Mitchell, received -1.00 grades of execution for her ambitious attempt at a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination because she had to make a balance check after the element. She skated to "El Flamenco," as choreographed by Jamie Isley, and perhaps seemed more like a student of flamenco than a flamenco dancer, which is, of course, the risk of giving adult choreography to a fourteen-year-old.

Third place in the short program went to Vivian Le of the Dallas FSC. The student of Aleksey Letov received the highest program component scores of the event, and also is less than a point behind current leader Paige Rydberg. Le, who is coached by Aleksey Letov, earned a score of 44.18 points for her powerful and moving performance, choreographed by Olga Ganicheva, to the "East of Edge Finale" by Lee Holdridge. The 2014 Midwestern Sectionals Novice Ladies champion completed an impressive 'tano triple Lutz that somehow fitted beautifully with the music, and a high quality double Axel, but failed to add a second jump to her attempted triple toe loop because she stumbled and had to put a hand down to steady herself. Because she had no combination jump, Le received a mandatory -3.00 grade of execution for that element.  The thirteen-year old also received credit for a level 4 step sequence and two level 4 spins.

Carly Berrios , Greenville FSC, had had the highest score of any novice lady at any of the Sectional competitions when she won the 2014 Eastern Sectional Novice Ladies Championship. Here in Boston, the sixteen-year-old skated rather nervously to "Tango Amore," choreographed by Audrey Weisiger and Marianna Rozanova. Although Berrios is currently in fourth place, she is only about two points behind the lead, with 43.03 points. The South Carolinian, coached by Rashid Kdyrkaev, struggled with her jumps at this competition. Berrios successfully completed a triple flip-double toe loop combination, but received negative grades of execution for her triple Lutz, which she landed perilously close to the boards, and fell on her double Axel.

Cheyenne Taylor , Los Angeles FSC, skated a dramatic and sinuous program choreographed by Phillp Mills to the Skyfall soundtrack. The student of Frank Carroll slipped off the landing edge of her triple toe loop and fell, but completed two level 4 spins very much in the character of the music, a good quality double Axel, and a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination. She is currently in fifth place with a score of 40.17.

Elise Romola, now in sixth place with 38.79 points, skated to "Tosca Fantasy" by Puccini. The bronze medalist at the 2014 Eastern Sectional Novice Ladies event produced an under-rotated, slightly two-footed, triple loop jump, a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, and a double axel, but really faltered on her layback spin, which only received level 1, due to excessive travelling and re-centering, and which was awarded negative grades of execution as a result. The student of Andrey Kryukov did earn credit for a level 4 combination spin, and for level 3 steps.

Hina Ueno , who is coached by Stewart Sturgeon, opened her delicate program to "White Legend" from Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky in a promising way, with a beautifully performed level 3 layback spin and a flowing triple Salchow-double toe combination jump. However, she turned out of both her triple toe loop and her double Axel, both of which received mostly -2.00 grades of execution. She is currently in seventh place, with a score of 38.41.

Emily Chan , the silver medalist at the 2014 Midwestern sectionals, scored 37.02 points and eighth place. She under-rotated her triple Salchow attempt and fell. She also attempted only a double flip-double toe loop combination.