by Liz Leamy
Neset and Markelov Capture U.S. Junior Dance Title
(6 January 2022) Leah Neset (Magic City FSC) and Artem Markelov (Magic City FSC) clinched first in the free dance competition, catapulting from second in the Rhythm Dance, to valiantly claim the 2022 U.S. junior dance title.
The champions, who trains in Colorado Springs, Colorado with Elena Dostatni, Andrzej Dostatni and Ilona Melnichenko captivated the Bridgestone Arena crowd with a compelling performance to ‘My Immortal’ and ‘In the End’ by Linkin Park, Jung Youth and Fleurie, in which the theme was about a breakup and its painful and complicated aftermath.
According to Neset and Markelov, who earned an 85.73 for this performance and 140.67 total, it was all about doing their best to convey this narrative.
“We tried to express ourselves and just skate,” said Markelov.
“We’re really happy with how it went and we really feel we gave it our all,” said Neset. “This is our second Nationals and we’re just happy to be here.”
Neset, donned in a flowing pink dress and Markelov, who wore a black costume, were all about fluidity, speed, lines and knees as they performed their lifts, footwork sequences, spins and other elements with visible ease, confidence and aptitude.
In regard to the quality and manner of their skating, Neset and Markelov were adamant to attribute the efforts and dedication of their coaches.
“We’re trying to achieve our best everyday,” said Markelov. “Our coaches push us forward and don’t let us slow down.”
On an aside note, when Neset and Markelov are off the ice, they enjoy doing such outdoor activities as hiking and playing mini golf with their friends, which certainly must add to the whole experience of living and training in Colorado Springs.
Angela Ling (Peninsula SC) and Caleb Wein (Washington FSC) claimed silver in this competition with their dramatic free dance for which they earned an 84.72 and 140.08 total.
This lively duo, who trains in Rockville, Maryland with Dmytri Ilin and Greg Zuerlein, skated to ‘April’ by the Lumineers and ‘Can’t Pretend’ by Tom Odell, wowing the crowd with their terrific technical and artistic acumen.
Throughout their program, Ling and Wein were all about energy, lines and presence and executed such memorable elements as beautifully positioned and fast lifts, spins and footwork sequences, among other things.
According to Ling and Wein, who were first in the Rhythm Dance portion of this event, it was all about doing their best.
“We just wanted to skate clean and do our best,” said Ling.
Her partner concurred.
“We’re happy we’re here,” said Wein. “We just wanted to do our best.”
This dynamic duo has been skating together for nearly four years.
Elliana and Ethan Peal, the sister and brother team who live and train in Nashville and represent the Scott Hamilton Skating Club, jumped from fifth in the short to third overall with their high-powered and emotional free dance for which they earned an 85.73 and 140.67 total.
This duo, who train with their dad, Rob Peal and Siobhan Godwin in Nashville, centered their program around an inspirational narrative to the music ‘Rise Up’ by Andra Day, ‘Unsteady’ by the X Ambassadors and ‘Follow You’ by the Imagine Dragons.
Elliana, who wore a white and blue ombre dress and her brother, who was donned in black and blue, knocked out an impressive library of technical elements that included power-charged lifts, including one in which she was upside down in a headstand position, high-energy twizzles and fast spins, among other things.
For this team, performing in front of the Nashville home crowd at the Bridgestone Arena was a big inspiration and boost for their performance.
“It was amazing to feel the unconditional love,” said Ethan Peal. “Tonight we were just trying to skate with that kind of joy and freedom in mind.”
His sister agreed.
“It’s nice to see familiar faces and the love helped get us through the program,” said Elliana Peal. “For us, to be able to compete in Nashville just means the world to us. We have a lot of family in town.” The two are originally from the Chicago area and had moved to Nashville several years ago with their family and had family visit to help support them at this event.