by Carly Gold
Wolfkostin & Zhao Win Novice Ice Dance
Winning the Novice Ice Dance title at the U.S. Championships was the team of Katarina Wolfkostin & Howard Zhao. The team was in second after the pattern dances, but scored a huge 73.54 points in their free dance, enough to take the gold.
Wolfkostin & Zhao performed a dazzling free dance to the soundtrack of “La La Land,” filled with interesting choreography and transitions. The team earned level 4s every element with the exception of their circular step sequence, which was judged to be a Level 3. They received over 5 and a half total points over their base value due to high GOEs earned for their elements. Wolfkostin and Zhao were awarded with the highest components score of the night with 30.99 points. The dancers won the event with a total combined score of 122.41 points.
Worlfkostin & Zhao are also the 2017 U.S. Intermediate Champions, proving the team is on a great path heading into the junior level. Wolfkostin & Zhao train in Detroit, Michigan under Pasquale Camerlengo and Angelika Krylova. This team demonstrates a great foundation of skating skills, and skate well together. I hope they stay a team in future seasons and continue to improve, as I really enjoyed watching them perform at these Championships.
Gianna Buckley & Jeffery Chen won the silver medal with a combined score of 116.77 points. They led after the pattern dance comfortably with 52.14 points, but had some minor errors in the free dance. Buckley and Chen placed fifth in the segment.
The team performed a lackluster free dance, and received Level 1s on their midline step sequence and twizzle sequence. Their twizzles also received negative GOEs. Despite this, the team still had the second highest components of the event, with 30.74 points. They earned 64.63 points in the free dance.
Buckley & Chen teamed up just eight months ago, and show great potential. With time, I’m sure they will have more solid showings than their performance in this event. The legendary Marina Zueva coaches the team in Canton, Michigan.
Jeffery Chen is the younger brother of 2017 U.S. Champion Karen Chen, and newly announced 2018 Olympian. What a talented family!
Caroline Liu & Kenan Slevira placed third in the event with a combined score of
115.56 points. They performed a fascinating free dance performance to music from “Cirque du Soleil”, with intriguing choreography and music choice. The team opened with a dynamic Level 4 opening lift, with scored 1s and 2s in GOE across the board. They went on to earn Level 4s on their straight-line lift and combination spin, scoring the second highest technical score of 38.40 points. Liu and Slevira netted 67.49 points for the free dance.
Liu & Slevira performed my favorite free dance in the event. I always enjoy when skaters present a program that stands out from the rest of the group, and these dancers did not disappoint.
Elizabeth Tkachenko & Alexei Kiliakov won the pewter medal with a total score 112.95 points. The team was in third after the pattern dances, but lost levels on their three opening elements to drop to fourth in the segment and overall placement.