by Liz Leamy
Clare Seo Skates Away With U.S. Junior Ladies Crown
(6 January 2022) Clare Seo (Broadmoor SC) clinched the 2022 U.S.Junior Ladies crown at the Bridgestone Arena with an action-packed program for which she racked up a 118.15 to generate a winning 185.53 total score.
Seo, who trains with Tammy Gambill in Colorado Springs and had moved to the U.S. from China several years ago, was all about power and grace as she flew around the ice at optimal speeds while knocking out such elements as a triple Lutz-triple toe loop, triple flip, triple loop, triple Lutz-double toe loop, double Axel-half loop-triple flip, triple Salchow (in which she touched down on the landing) and double Axel.
Donned in a black long-sleeved dress, Seo also earned high component scores, a 55.66, for her fluid and strong edges, deep body lean and engaging interpretation to her dramatic music to ‘Jean de Florette’ from Manon of the Spring.
One of the big crowd favorites in this competition, Seo said she was happy with her performance, as was her coach, Tammy Gambill.
“I felt she skated really well,” said Gambill, who coaches Karen Chen, the 2017 U.S. champion and three-time U.S. bronze medalist. “She’s a natural jumper and she’s a lot of fun to teach. We usually work on the air positions [keeping the legs straight and together in the air], on holding the landing positions and to have control in terms of the speed going into the jumps, since she has such great speed.”
Ava Ziegler (SC of New York) scored the silver medal with her high-charged program to ‘Gravity’ by Sara Barielles, one that was defined by big triples, attack and energy, rightfully earning her a 115.26 for a 175.50 total.
Ziegler, who trains at the Ice House in Hackensack, New Jersey with Steven Rice, a former U.S. men’s contender and her mom, Tricia Mansfield Ziegler, a former U.S. ladies competitor, knocked out a triple Lutz-double toe loop, triple flip-double toe loop, triple loop, triple Lutz, triple flip, double Axel and double Axel-half loop-triple Salchow, as well as high-velocity spins and interesting footwork.
“I just focused on one thing at a time,” said Ziegler, who pulled up to third from fourth in the short. “I’m just happy I got to be out there. I’ve really loved being here. The atmosphere is amazing.”
According to her coach, Steven Rice, Ziegler is an extremely hard and driven skater.
“She works extremely hard,” said Rice. “She’s also a true fighter.”
Josephine Lee (All Year FSC) claimed bronze in this event, scoring a 111.47 for her electric free skate to ‘Red Ballerina’ from Don Quixote putting her total at 172.08.
Lee, who placed third in the short, was incredibly fast, finished and quick.
She opened up with a soaring triple toe loop-triple toe loop and then followed it up with a triple loop, triple flip-double toe loop and double Axel-half loop-triple Salchow, among other notable elements.
Lee’s jumps were defined by incredible quickness in terms of rotation, beautiful lines and wonderful alignment as she also skated with tremendous grace, extension and a professional balletic style.
“I felt really good being out there,” said Lee, who trains in Lakewood, California with Naomi Nari Nam, the 1999 U.S. silver medalist and Amy Evidente, a former U.S. ladies contender. “I will definitely take this experience as well to learn from.”
Her coaches agreed.
“We’ve been working on everything,” said Evidente, who also coaches Elyce Lin-Gracey, the fifth-place finisher, in tandem with Nam. “We knew everything had to be detailed and strong and she really stepped up.”
Katie Shen (Glacier Falls FSC) catapulted from eighth in the short to fourth place overall with a stunning free skate to ‘Halo’ by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori for which she earned the highest marks in this segment of the competition, a 119.57, putting her total at 170.77.
Shen, wearing a lovely lavender dress, captured the full attention of the crowd with her speed, attack and command in all of her elements and skating, particularly the jumps.
Shen, who is coached by Christopher Pottenger and Tiffany Chin, the two-time World bronze medalist and 1985 U.S. champion, executed a triple flip, triple Lutz-double toe loop, double Axel-triple toe loop, triple Lutz, triple loop, triple toe loop-double toe loop-double loop and triple Salchow, most of which covered more than 15 feet in length and which were done with top-speed entries.
For Shen, who trains in Anaheim, California, it was all about making the most of being here at Nationals so that she could show who she is.
“It was really fun and being able to be here is everything,” said Shen. “I tried my best.”
As Shen and the rest of this talented and accomplished group of junior ladies continue striving to do their best, things seem to be more promising than ever that the best is yet to come for U.S. ladies taking on the rest of the world going into the future.