by Liz Leamy
(22 January 2021) Anastasiia Smirnova & Danil Silanytsia scored gold in the U.S. Junior Pairs showdown at the 2021 U.S. Championships Thursday night, locking in their first-place lead after the short program with a fluid and action-packed free skate for a victorious total of 169.85.
The duo, who are both of Ukrainian descent and who train in Shakopee, Minnesota with the esteemed Trudy Oltmanns, wore stunning blue outfits and skated to the moving piece ‘The Prayer,’ sung by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.
In this action-packed program, Smirnova & Silanytsia reeled off a horizontal split triple twist and stunning tabletop stag lift and star lift, among other memorable things.
Smirnova & Silanytsia also skated their entire program in nearly perfect unison, performing their crossovers, turns, stroking and other foundational skating elements all in astonishing harmony, designating another reason why they wound up with the highest marks in this intensive showdown.
For this amiable team, it’s all about staying focused and doing their job.
“We’re pretty excited and we’re very grateful with how we ended up,” said Siianytsia, who said the team trains four hours daily six days a week. “It’s a beginning.”
The two, when asked about preparing for this year’s U.S. Championships with it being such a challenging year due to the pandemic, credited Altman for keeping them on such a productive and effective training course.
“Our coach kept us moving,” said Siianytsia.
Isabelle Martins & Ryan Bedard who train in Geneva, Illinois with Rockne Brubaker and Stefania Burton, skated away with the silver medal in this event by scoring a 95.88 ad 148.02 total for their arresting program to ‘Beauty and the Beast.’
This high-octane team, who placed fifth in the same category at last year’s U.S. Championships, earned high marks for their impressive library of technical elements that included a big throw triple loop, incredible lifts and a splendid combination spin, among other things.
Martin & Bedard also projected their program narrative in memorable fashion, as the two told of the Beauty and the Beast story through the positions in their lifts and other elements, rendering a poignant and powerful message, to say the least. (Their program was designed by Rohene Ward, the esteemed American choreographer, as well as Keauna McLaughlin and Colin Brubaker.)
Valentina Plazas & Maximilano Fernandez clinched bronze due to their lively and action-packed free skate to the ‘Aladdin’ soundtrack for which they earned a 90.22 and 137.26 total score.
Plazas and Fernandez, who train in Canton, Michigan with Jim Peterson, the U.S. Olympic coach and Amanda Evora, the 2010 U.S. Olympic pair skater, executed numerous gorgeous lifts as well as big throw jumps, a death spiral and other notable elements for which they rightfully earned some of the highest points of this competition.
Plazas & Fernandez, who have only been skating together since May, have some terrific on-ice chemistry happening together, something that was obvious in their performance.
For the duo, it’s all about good old-fashioned hard work as well as having fun.
“It’s rewarding to see our hard work come together,” said Fernandez, who had convinced Plazas, a former singles skater, to try pair skating last year.