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2022 Nationals: Junior Women

by Liz Leamy



Clare Seo Claims Top Position in Junior Women's Short with Stellar Program

(6 January 2022)  Clare Seo (Broadmoor SC), the 2021 U.S. Junior bronze medalist, skated a superb short program to take a solid four and a half-point lead in the first leg of the 2022 U.S. Championship junior women's competition with 67.38 points.

Seo, who trains with Hyemin Kim and Tammy Gambill in Colorado Springs and had moved to the U.S. from China several years ago, flew around the ice at the Bridgestone Arena interpreting Ezio Bosso’s ‘Rain in your Black Eyes’ with the fluidity, form and aptitude of a skater ready to contend in the senior ranks.

She executed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop, triple flip and double Axel with excellent air positions, top speed going in and out of the jumps, length and height, as well as beautifully positioned spins and footwork that was engaging and done on deep edges.

Notably, Seo covered the ice with terrific ease and skated her edges and steps with soft knees and an inherent understanding of the ice and also popped out a nice split jump and lovely Ina Bauer, which was also why she racked up big points.

Seo, following her performance, said she was happy to have done a clean and solid program.

“I really enjoyed my skate and the most important thing is that I was confident on my jumps,” said Seo. “My goals were to land all of my jumps and I was happy I did it.”

Seo took the lead among the field of 17 total contenders, all of who qualified for this event by scoring the highest points among all entrants in this division in the U.S. Figure Skating Competition series that was held earlier in the season.

Elyce Lin-Gracey (Pasadena FSC) clinched second with a 62.53 for her compelling program to ‘Send in the Clowns’ sung by Lisa Hannigan (and written by Stephen Sondheim, who recently passed) that was a big crowd favorite.

Lin-Gracey trains with Naomi Nari-Nam, the U.S. ladies medalist, Amy Evidente, the former U.S. ladies contender, Derrick Delmore, Jamie Isley and Drew Meekins in Lakewood, California and wore a plum-colored dress.

In addition to her library of fast, long jumps that were defined by speed, quickness of rotation and tight air positions, Lin-Gracey also did super-speed spins defined by wonderful extension and fluid, interesting footwork.

Lin-Gracey also did a broken leg spin that was so fast and well positioned that it audible applause from the audience as well as high grade of execution points (with unanimous plus-threes and one plus-four) from officials.

“I’m super happy with my score,” said Lin-Gracey. “It’s such a pleasure just being at the National Championships and it’s such an honor to compete again.”

Josephine Lee (All Year FSC), who, like Lin-Gracey, also works with Naomi Nari-Nam and Amy Evidente, placed third with a 60.61 for her fast and exciting program to the ‘Legend of Zelda’ soundtrack.

Also donned in a violet dress like Lin-Gracey, Lee was an audience favorite due to her triple flip, triple toe loop-double toe loop and double Axel, all which were executed from terrific speed and with notable height, spring and strength.

Lee also earned big points for her spins, which were defined by high velocity and beautiful extension and lines.

For Lee, being part of this competition was the biggest win in her book.

“This is such a big arena. Everything is so nice and I”ve never competed before so many people,” said Lee. “I’m in so much awe right now. I just came here to enjoy the experience and remember all of it.”

Ava Ziegler (SC of New York) wound up fourth with her dynamic performance to Beth Hart’s ‘I’ll Take Care of You,’ for which she was awarded a.

Ziegler, who trains in Hackensack, New Jersey with Steven Rice, a former U.S. men’s contender, Anton Nimenko and her mom, Patricia Mansfield Ziegler, who was a U.S. ladies contender, skated with attack, confidence and command.

In her program, she knocked out a high and quick triple Lutz-triple toe loop, triple flip and double Axel as well as powerful, nicely extended and formed spins, among other elements.

“I did pretty much everything I needed to,” said Ziegler. “I wanted to just skate clean and do the best I can.”