by Karen Frank
(26 January 2016) In recent years, it has seemed like no discipline has more movement in the standings than pairs. Of course, part of that is that no other discipline requires such a range of skills, from the jumping required by singles skaters, the unison required by dance, and the overhead lifts that characterizes the event. Thus it stands to reason that, especially at the Junior level, teams will have different strengths, and that it may take them some time to get comfortable and consistent with all of the required skills.
As such, the Junior Competition at U.S. Nationals, was defined by inconsistency. No team (aside from the 12th place team) had the same placement in both the short and the free program.
Making up a 0.74 deficit after their short program, Joy Weinberg & Maximiliano Fernandez, who train with Jim Peterson and Amanda Evora at the Southwest Florida FSC, brought an athletic performance to Le Corsaire by Adolphe Adam. They performed a triple twist (in both their short and free program), landed a throw triple Salchow, and executed level four lifts. Their major weakness is in the side by side jumps – they attempted only double jumps throughout the competition. For Junior Worlds, they plan to add double Axels to both the short and free program.
Their partnership is only eight months old, however, so they were happy with their progress so far. “We got our triple twist together before the competition. And threw it in,” Fernandez said. “We tried to reach some levels and I think we got close to them.”
“We’re happy about that,” Weinberg added. “We really focused on getting the triple twist consistent.”
Winning the Silver medal was Lindsay Weinstein & Jacob Simon. Though they won the short program with an interpretation of Maxime Rodriguez’s Eleonore, they lost levels on their spins in that, and in their American Tail free program.
“Obviously there were some errors made that we could avoid in the future. We are going to use this competition as a lesson,” Weinstein stated.
The pair, who train in Colorado Springs with Daililah Sappenfield, have an elegant and classical style to their skating, and have skate with good unison. Like the winners, they need to increase the difficulty in their programs – they only attempted a double twist, and their hardest side by side jump was a double axel (which was downgraded).
“Our main focus on this Championship was component based – presentation, emotion, connection,” Weinstein said. “Next time we’ll still focus on that of course, but also in the technical mark.”
Another new pair, Meiryla Findley & Austin Hale, moved up from a fifth place short program, which was marred when their death spiral did not achieve the required position and rotation (and therefore received no points). In their free skate to the music of by Maxime Rodriguez (Ange Et Diable and Je Me Souviens De Nous), they rectified that error, and by landing side by side triple Salchows, and a sequence of with two double Axels, they were able to capture the bronze medal. Together only six months, their singles elements were solid, but their pair spin elements lost levels.
Said Hale, “I feel like we skated two very strong programs with very minimal amounts of errors. She’s only been skating pairs about six months so she’s come a long way and I’m so proud of her.”
[Note, as of January 21, 2016, this team has split up.]
Winning the pewter medal were Madeleine Gallagher& Justin Highgate-Brutman. Their short program, to Falling Slowly, was well skated, with clean, well-executed elements. The music of the short program suited their lyrical style, but they seemed a little overpowered by the Black Hawk Down soundtrack they chose for the free program. In the latter, Gallagher fell on an attempted throw triple Salchow, and they lost levels on several of the non-jump elements.
“We were really excited about our short program,” Highgate-Brutman said. “Long program could have been a little bit stronger but we did what we set out to do. Just little things here and there to improve on.”
While their free program was marked eighth in the field, their fourth place short program score was good enough to keep them in that position overall.
The rest of the field was characterized by wildly inconsistent skating, with either strong short programs and problematic free programs, such as Kay Bergdolt & Miles Addison, who had a charming Dueling Banjos short program, then finished in eighth, after finishing tenth in the second part of the event. Gabriella Marvaldi & Cody Dolkiewicz, had the opposite occur, finishing in seventh overall with a tenth place short program, and an exciting fourth place free skate that featured the hardest planned elements in the competition.