by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(22 April 2022) The ice dance competition at Junior Worlds 2002 in Tallinn, Estonia, had a good, but no excellent level. Without the Russian dance teams there were less really good teams than usually and no outstanding team at all. The levels were generally relatively low.
The gold medal for U.S. dancers Oona Brown and brother Gage Brown of Dix Hills on Long Island was a little surprise because they were not the favorites. But in the speedy Rhythm Dance to the Hip Hop “How Ya Like Me Now“ from 1987 by the American rapper Kool Moe Dee, the students of Inese Bucevica took the lead although the first Blues sequence had only a level 1, the second a level 3 and the midline step sequence also a level 3. But their twizzles sequence and their rotational lift were excellent and had a level 4. They had the highest components of the field with an average of around 7.8.
Oona Brown commented, “It was a clean skate, it was strong. Maybe there were little things here and there that could have been better, but I feel like today it was definitely a strong enough performance that we put out. There were a lot of ups and downs with competitions being cancelled but through it all we just kept at it and doing our strongest, trying to perform our best.” Gage Brown added, “The JGP Final as well was cancelled back in December. A lot of cancellations, we had Covid in January, there were a lot of setbacks. The last time we competed was in October. Just to get actually out here and compete was an amazing feeling.“
In their dynamic free dance to a medley of music pieces by the British band “Muse“ the levels were higher. All elements were at least very good, the Choreo steps even outstanding. This time their components were around 8.0. Gage Brown explained, “Overjoyed is the correct word to describe our feeling. Obviously everyone knows it was a very long season. I feel like the motivation went up and down a lot for the two of us. It was just like - we had a date for Worlds, then we didn't, and then we had one and I was hoping it stuck.“
Canadians Natalie D’Alessandro & Bruce Waddell, who train in the Cricket and Skating Club in Toronto under Andrew Hallam, won the silver medal with 162.56 points. Waddell is the younger brother of George WaddelI who competes for Britain and was 17th with Sasha Fear at this year‘s Senior Worlds in France. Waddell‘s grandfather “Red“ Kelly was a ice hockey star in Canada. In their Rhythm Dance in Tallinn, D’Alessandro & Waddell competed to the soundtracks of “Pulp Fiction“ and “The Good Wife“. Their levels were not very high, but they had very good components of around 7.5.
D’Alessandro explained, “We are definitely very happy with our skate today. Of course, we had a couple of technical lower levels, but overall we put out today what we’ve been doing in practice and we felt like we pushed everything we could. Our coach Andrew Hallam brings definitely energy. Every morning when we start at 6,30 he is there and it is just unraveling, straight energy and it's exciting to come in and have someone.“
For their free dance, they used “Black Swan“ by Clint Mansell and “Swan Lake“ by Peter Tchaikovsky. Most of the eight elements in their powerful dance were excellent and mainly got GOEs of +3, the best ones being the combination spin and the twizzle sequence even if it was level 3. D’Alessandro explained how the delay of ths competition affected them, “Psychologically, when you take a step back, you realize, well, yes it was postponed but it really was only postponed by a month or so. We've been skating our whole lives and this is the biggest competition that Bruce and I have done. So when you know how big it is, a month really isn't anything.“
The second Canadian couple of Nadiia Bashynska & Peter Beaumont trains under Carol Lane and Juris Razgulajevs in Scarborough near Toronto and won the bronze medal with 157.64 points. Bashynska was born in the Ukraine, Beaumont in Britain. Their music pieces for the Rhythm Dance were the Blues “Chances Are“ and the Swing “Peppermint Twist“. The GOEs for their five elements in the flawless program were mostly +2 and the components around 7.3. Beaumont commentated, “Coming to this competition, we didn’t have any expectations as a team. We just wanted to enjoy it and let our skating speak for itself. We're really happy with how that went.”
For their free dance, they did not want to compete any more to their Russian folk dance after the beginning of Russia’s war against the Ukraine. They went back to an older free dance to “Caruso“ performed by Andrea Bocelli and to “And the Waltz Goes On“ by Anthony Hopkins. They were a bit slower than the two top teams, but made no mistake and could keep their bronze medal in spite of being only fifth in the free dance. Bashynska said, “I am proud of my Ukrainian heritage and I'm proud of Peter and I to make this wise choice of music, to go back to our previous program. I think we were able to deliver the feeling and our love and the story to the ice today.“
The U.S. team of Katarina Wolfkostin & Jeffrey Chen, students of Igor Shpilband and Pasquale Camerlengo in Michigan, had been seventh at Junior Worlds two years ago and were the favorites for this competition. But they finished only fourth with 157.27 points after Wolfkostin fell on the twizzles in the Rhythm Dance which cost them about seven points. They lost more points because their midline step sequence was only a level 1. But with the second best free dance to “Rain, in your Black Eyes“ by Ezio Bosso, they could move up from ninth to fourth place with 157.27 points.
Darya Grimm & Michail Savitskiy from Germany, who train under Rostislav Sinicyn and are only 15 and 18 years old, finished on fifth position with 154.48 points in their very first Junior season. In their dynamic Blues and Swing Rhythm Dance they had relatively good levels. The elements of their elegant free dance to a modern version of “Sarabande“ by Georg Friedrich Haendel got mainly GOEs of +2, their main strength are fluid transitions and deep knees. Their choreographer for several years has been Maria Tumanovska-Chaika from the Ukraine who fled to their rink in Oberstdorf in Germany after the beginning of the war and plans perhaps to stay there.
Hannah Lim & Ye Quan from South Korea, who train in Montreal, are sixth with 154.44 points. They had a speedy and crowd-pleasing free dance to the musical “Cats“. The third U.S team of Angela Ling & Caleb Wein from the new dance school of Greg Zuerlein in Canton, Michigan, placed seventh with 153.98 points. Angelina Kudryavsteva & Ilia Karankevich from Cyprus, who train in Moscow, came eighth earning 152.56 points. Celina Fradji & Jean-Hans Fourneaux were the better of the two French pairs of Karine Arribert and are ninth with 140.36 points. Phebe Bekker & James Hernandez from Britain are tenth with 138.16 points. Elizabeth Tkachenko & Alexei Kiliakov jr., the son of U.S. coach Alexei Kiliakov, ended up 13th of 24 couples with 132.20 points, but they skate for Israel.