by Geri Walbert
(20 January 2017) The required elements of the Free Dance this season Junior level include one combination lift or two different types of short lifts, one dance spin but not more, two step sequences in Hold – one straight-line step sequence in Hold, one set of Synchronized Twizzles, and one Choreographic Element.
After the Short Dance results it was clear that the top four teams would be in position to make the medal stand leading into the Free Dance. It was also expected that the title would be fought between the Parsons and training mates McNamara & Carpenter as they have been battling each other the last several years both nationally and internationally, but there were surprises in the final result.
First in the lineup in the final group was the team of Christine Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko skating to “Exogenesis Symphony Part 3” by Muse. They were sitting in 3rd place and performed a well-designed and smooth routine choreographed by coach Igor Shpilband. All executed elements were rated Level 4 with Grades of Execution points (GOE) generally in the 2s and 3s, and Program Components averaging 8.5. Their strong performance here generated a score of 98.29 for this dance, totaling 165.06 when added to the score of 66.77 from the Short Dance. Overall it was a high enough score to ultimately stand on the podium, this time with a silver medal.
Obviously thrilled with their performance and score, they said they were ready to make an imprint on the world scene at the upcoming championships in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei coming up in March 15-19, 2017. “We want to continue to improve our speed, line and connection,” Ponomarenko said, while describing their performance in the free dance as soft and elegant.
Asked if he felt any pressure due to the great legacy of his Olympic ice dance champion parents Marina Klimova & Sergei Ponomarenko, he said that he knew he had to make his own legacy with his career.
Leaders after the Short Dance, siblings Rachel & Michael Parsons, appearing in gray and blue costumes and performed to a new arrangement of “Singing in the Rain” by Sophia Sin, a sophisticated number that drew the highest overall score of the event 103.91 and when combined with their Short Dance score of 72.42, took the lead with a total of 176.33 points. They received Level 4s for their Executed Elements and Program Component scores ranging from 8.25 to 9.00. It was definitely gold medal territory but they had to wait for their teammates Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter to skate.
Dressed in dark navy blue costumes, McNamara & Carpenter took to the ice with music from David Garret – “Thunderstruck, Nothing Else Matters, Rock Prelude.” They appeared to take command of the ice with strong Level 4 rated elements, looking confident until suddenly toward the end of their performance, Carpenter took a stunning fall out of the last step sequence. The audience, and possibly the judges as well reacted in an immediate gasp of disbelief. Their scores of 93.19 for the dance, ended with an overall score of 163.63 and a bronze medal.
Carpenter later said he was shocked since a fall like that in competition never happened before. Up to that point he felt that it was the best performance (of that program) that they had skated. “It was just one of those things,” he commented with a shrug. He added that he hadn’t been worried about the performance beforehand. “Hopefully, we will have a much better performance at World (Juniors).”
Although wonderfully pleased at winning the national ice dance title in the Junior division, the Parsons said they still have to work on connections, power, projection and control as they head to the World Junior Championships with an eye to winning that title as well.
Skating to “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin, “Embraceable You” and “I’ve Got Rhythm” by Judy Garland, Chloe Lewis & Logan Bye placed 4th overall with a total score of 148.43.
Both McNamara & Carpenter and the Parsons plan on moving to the senior ice dance category next season.