by Alexandra Stevenson
(31 August 2012) Lake Placid, NY
The Russian Junior champions, Evgenia Kosigina, 17, and Nikolai Moroshkin, 18, presented a show-ey Blues and Swing routine to earn 59.44 (33.66+25.78). Kosigina, dressed in a black, long-sleeved outfit with a back cut-out, really sold their performance. They lie a significant 5.96 points ahead of the obviously disappointed second placed Alexandra Aldridge, 18, and Daniel Eaton, 20, going into Saturday’s Free Dance.
The Americans earned 53.48 (26.67+26.81) performing to Pennsylvania 6-5000 by Brian Setzer and Down Home Blues by Gene Harris. Though they did get a slightly higher components score of 1.37 points ahead of the leaders, they were 6.99 points behind them on the elements marks.
That was due to low Levels. They received only the basic Level 1 for their “close to the judges” Blues Pattern Dance and Level 2 for their “away from the judges” Blues. Though their twizzles and rotational lift earned the maximum Level 4, their non-touching steps were only Level 2.
They will skate their Free eighth, which will be first on in the last group of four to skate. Aldridge and Eaton strode out of the draw, refusing to discuss their performance while the redheaded Kosigina was all smiles. “It’s the best we’ve ever skated,” she said in Russian, after drawing to skate the Free Dance tenth of the 11 couples from seven nations. “It was the highest marks we’ve ever got and we’re very happy.”
Kosigina and Moroshkin were third up to perform their Short Dance. They began their energetic routine with their Blues sequence away from the judges and received unanimous +1 Grades of Execution (which means superior) from the panel of nine judges. They were the only couple to earn the maximum Level 4 for both sequences of the Blues. This second sequence received a slightly lower total GoE. Athough seven judges again awarded +1, two thought it deserved only zero, which means “satisfactory in every aspect”.
They also received Level 4 for their curve lift and their twizzles. Their non-touching steps were Level 3. None of their individual GoEs was negative. Of the 35 GoEs, seven were +2, five were zero and the rest +1.
The only other couple to receive a Level 4 for one of their Blues sequence was the very promising young Americans Elliana Pogrebinksky, 14, and Ross Gudis, whose 17th birthday is coming up on September 20. They got Level 4 for their “close to the judges” Blues sequence which they presented as their fourth of the five elements. They had executed their “away from the judges” sequence immediately prior to that and were awarded Level 3. The judges were a little less generous than the Technical panel. They awarded all “0” GoEs, except for a -1 from one judge for the “away” sequence.
Those high Levels enabled Pogrebinksky and Gudis to earn the second highest elements score, but, possibly because they are relatively unknown on the international field, their component score was only the 9th best. They currently lie fifth with 45.41 (26.84+18.57).
Pogrebinsky, who has a maturity beyond her tender age, explained “I’m originally from California. I was taught by Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko (who won bronze, silver and gold in three successive Olympic Games.) I moved with my mom three and a half years ago to Washington DC.” She teamed up at the Wheaton Ice Academy with Gudis. They train with Alexei Kiliokov.
Gudis revealed, “We train with three other couples who are on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. That makes every day very competitive which is very good. It keeps you on your toes. But we’re all friends. We all want everyone to skate the best they can.” Pogrebinsky and Gudis were eighth in the past US championship at Junior level after being fourth in the Novice championship last year.
Daia Morozova and Mikhail Zhirnov of Russia lie third with 47.22 (24.41+22.81).
Fourth, fifth and sixth are practically tied, separated by only 0.93. Andreanne Poulin and Marc-Andre Servant of Canada scored 45.95 (22.50+23.45). A Ukrainian couple, Lolita Yermack and Alexei Khimich, lies sixth only 0.39 behind Pogrebinsky and Gudis.
Canada’s Noa Bruser and Timothy Lum are seventh with 43.06, 1.13 ahead of the US’s Madeline Heritage and Nathaniel Fast, who are more than three points ahead of the ninth place Finns.
Heritage, 17, and Fast, 20, interpreted Give Me One Reason by Tracey Chapman. They are competing in only their third international. Last season, they were thrilled to travel to Brisbane, Australia, for that Junior Grand Prix. They were eighth and fifth in the last two US championships at Junior level.
Juniors must incorporate the so called Blues “Pattern Dance” in all international events this season. It’s a compulsory with a mere 17 deep edged steps including the highlight, a sweeping Closed Chocktaw, which was devised by Britons Lesley Turner and Bob Dench at the Streatham rink in London (UK) in 1934.
Obviously such an exercise does not provide that much of a challenge for today’s athletic dancers, but it does stress the dynamics of the basic physics of skating. Today competitors can view multiple YouTube videos of experts, including Olympic champions, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, and Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, glide effortlessly through this exercise, with superb extension and exact timing.
But is it really relevant for current competitors? Coaches seem to agree, it is a good idea to keep their pupils aware of the necessities to still practice the basics but there seems some dispute about how it should be judged.
The Canadian Aaron Lowe, who, with now wife Megan Wing, coaches in the Vancouver area, was in Lake Placid with his pupils, Bruser and Lum, who drew to skate the Short Dance first, and Finland’s Sara Aghai and Jussiville Partanen, who lie ninth scoring 38.31.
Neither Bruser nor Lum were upset that they had drawn first. He explained, “That’s happened to us a lot so we are very used to it. It does mean you can’t use the full time because you need the energy for the performance. Sometimes that means not warming up all the elements, but you train for that possibility.”
Lowe is the proud father of 11-month old twins. He was happily showing off cell phone snaps of the obviously very active Keauna and Tayson. He says he’s pleased that the time the Blues occupies in this season’s Short Dance is far less than last season’s Cha Cha Congelado, a Canadian created exercise invented by Bernard Ford, Kelly Johnson and Steve Brelanger in 1989, which has 38 steps.
He explains, "That leaves more time to develop the choreography and come up with some new and pleasing for the audience."
Ladies Short Program
Twenty-five Ladies from 21 countries took almost four hours to complete their Short Programs.
The winner, Satoko Miyahara, from Japan, drew to skate last and lived up to that position, presenting an extremely enjoyable showing which earned her 54.76 (31.51+23.25), a lead of 2.43 points over So Youn Park of South Korea, who received 52.33 (29.50+22.83).
The South Korean lies only 0.03 ahead of the third placed Evgenia Gerasimova of Russia, who scored 52.30 (28.74+23.56).
The three Americans, Courtney Hicks, who has recovered completely from last season’s leg injury, Kiri Baga, who performed right before Miyahara, and Angela Wang, who skated second, lie fourth, fifth and eighth going into Saturday’s Free. Sandwiched between Baga and Wang are the sixth placed Kako Tomotaki of Japan and Brooklee Han of Australia.
Breathing over Wang’s shoulder, with just 1.29 fewer points, is Alaine Chartrand of Canada.
Miyahara, a 14 year-old who is trained by Mie Hamada, dressed in a soft peach outfit to present a beautiful showing set to Strauss’ Voice of Spring, opening with a triple Lutz to triple toe. Tom Dickson is listed in her bio as the choreographer.
The technical panel slammed the Japanese’s combination with an “e” for wrong edge take-off on the first jump. Her other jumps, triple flip and double Axel, received slight positive GoEs. Her first spin, the flying camel, gained only Level 2 but her layback and final change foot combination were both the maximum Level 4. Her straight line steps earned Level 3. Although her element score was clearly the highest, her components were slightly below those for Gerasimova and Hicks.
This is her second season on the Junior Grand Prix Series. Miyahara finished fourth in last season’s world junior championship.
Park, who is also 14, is from her nation’s capital, Seoul. She competed on the junior grand prix circuit last year, and also placed fourth in the Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck. Skating 12th, to piano music, she began with a triple Salchow to double toe which earned +0.80 over the base value.
She followed that with a +0.40 triple flip and her double Axel received an extra +0.71. But only her final combination spin, which received an extra +0.50, was Level 4. The flying camel and her layback were both Level 3 and both got an extra +0.43. Her straight line steps were Level 2 and +0.50. All but one of her 63 GoEs was positive.
Two of Gerasimova’s spins were Level 4 but she received an “e” for wrong edge take-off on her triple Lutz to double toe and her double Axel had -0.29 removed from its base value. The triple flip was +0.40. She appears to be very new to this level of competition.
Few expected Hicks to return to skating after breaking her leg badly in her second Junior Grand Prix last season in Milan. However, her Lake Placid performance to Korobushka by Bond, showed she is back stronger than ever. The now 16-year-old Californian, who won the 2011 US championship at Junior level in 2011 and was sixth in the world junior champions, was off the ice for a long time but has come back stronger.
She had an unsteady beginning of the routine and was unable to execute the second jump to her triple loop meant as a combination. But the other six elements all gained significant average GoEs, which means extra points are added to that move’s base value. Her Level 4 lay back and flying camel spins both received an additional +0.79. The straight line steps were Level 3 with +0.50. The final change foot combination spin was Level 2 with +0.64. Hicks’ score was 51.36 (27.85+23.51).
She said, “It was unfortunate about the loop but I was very happy with the rest of the performance. I’m putting today behind me and looking for a great performance in the Free.” Hicks is trained by Scott Wendland.
Baga, 17, earned 47.80 (25.88+22.92 -1) for her routine skated to Gabriel's Oboe (The Mission soundtrack) by Ennio Morricone which was choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo. She is from Bloomington MN, and is coached by Cindy Caprel in Northbrook, Illinois.
After the 2010 season, when she was fourth in the US championships at Junior level and placed seventh in world juniors, she was injured and didn’t compete. Then, in 2012, she claimed tenth place in seniors.
In Lake Placid, Baga fell on her opening move, a triple flip and, still unnerved, did a tentative triple toe to double which had -0.30 removed from the base value. Her change foot combination and layback spins gained Level 4 with +0.57 and +1.00 GoEs. One judge even rewarded the layback with the maximum +3 GoE.
Her double Axel received a small +0.14 over the base value. The Level 3 flying camel spin also earned +0.14. Her straight line steps were only Level 2 but with 0.50 added.
Wang, a 16 year old from Salt Lake, who trains with Christy Krall, Damon Allen, Janet Champion in Colorado Springs, performed to music from the soundtrack toCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Tan Dun trained in Colorado Springs. She earned 44.71 (23.34+21.37).
The routine had a dicey start. Her triple Lutz got an arrow for slight under-rotation and the second jump was only a single toe loop. The following triple flip got an “e” for wrong edge takeoff. However, the other five elements all received positive GoEs. Her change foot combination spin and flying camel received Level 4 from the Technical Panel, but her straight line steps were just Level 2. Her final element, the layback spin, gained +0.57 GoE and Level 3.
Wang was eighth at senior level in nationals earlier this year. She has had only one previous JGP, the 2010 event in Karuizawara in Japan, where she finished fourth. In Lake Placid, she admitted her performance, “It was definitely not my best. I had a problem with my opening move. But I’m determined to do better in the Free.”
(1 September 2012) Lake Placid, NY
Men's Free Skate - Joshua Farris in a League by Himself
The first competition to conclude, the Men's, witnessed a sensational performance by Joshua Farris, who not only completely eclipsed the rest of the field, but generated a unique artistic performance which was mesmerizing. His program, set to the emotional, beloved Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2 in C Minor, played by Van Cliburn, was a performance with light and shade and immensely entertaining.
The 17-year-old has mastered the art of flowing over the ice with unforced speed and grace. What a shame it was witnessed by only a few dozen spectators, who will be talking about what everyone missed for years to come.
Not that it was perfect. There were a couple of very minor flaws which only served to enhance the overall quality. It is not out-of-line to say, “A star has been born.”
Afterwards, Farris was very hard on himself. “I achieved a personal goal for myself. I brought off the quad in competition for the first time. But there was a lot wrong with the routine. I didn’t do the second triple Axel and there were some other mistakes but it was a good start to the season.”
Dressed in black with silver sparkles, he set a pleasing superior tone right from his opening move, a +1.71 triple Axel to triple toe loop, which earned six +2 GoEs and three +1s from the panel of judges. Then he soared into a +1.0 quad toe, which elicited a huge roar from the sparse crowd. A triple Lutz to double toe followed and then two Level 4 spins (which gained an extra +0.43 and +0.50) surrounding Level 3 +0.64 straight line steps.
At the point where the bonus marks click in, he executed a base value double Axel, and a +0.70 triple Lutz. Then came two minor mis-steps. His triple flip to double toe to double loop was given an “e” for wrong edge take-off for the first move, and the following triple loop was saddled with an arrow for slight under-rotation. Farris lost -0.70 on both these moves.
But then he got back in stride to finish with a +0.10 triple Salchow and a +0.86 Level 3 combination spin. It was a case of individual items perhaps not sounding as impressive as the actual performance was. Yet this was definitely a showing to be remembered.
For this segment Farris earned 146.49 (75.49+71.00). That was 22.62 points ahead of Keiji Tanaka, who was second in both sections and overall. Farris’ winning margin was 36.19 above the Japanese lad, who is also 17. Tanaka performed to Ennio Morricone’s The Untouchables.
Tanaka began with a triple Axel to double toe but fell when he repeated the triple Axel as his second move. In total he was saddled with negatives on six of his 12 elements, including a near fall on his flying camel spin which rated only Level 1.
A 13-year-old Canadian, Roman Sadovsky, who is trained by Tracy Wainman and whose choreography for his Free program to The Man in the Iron Mask was created by Gregor Filipowski, was eighth after the SP, but rose up to snatch the bronze medal with 182.50, just 0.37 ahead of Michael Christian Martinez, who is representing the Philippines. Martinez was seventh in the SP and fourth in the FS and overall. The 15-year-old has already taken part in Junior Grand Prix events in Japan and Australia and was 15th in the world junior championships. He is trained by Ilya Kulik in California. His Free was set to the soundtrack for King Arthur.
June Hyoung Lee from South Korea had the unenviable task of performing immediately following Farris but was able to keep himself from falling apart. He was fifth in both sections and finished just 1.95 points overall behind Martinez.
The Russian, Adian Pitkeev, dropped from third to sixth overall with an eighth-ranked free, a mere 0.32 ahead of the Japanese Taichi Honda, who was sixth in both sections and seventh overall.
James Schetelich, the 16-year-old from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, who was making his international debut, presented his Free Skate to the soundtrack for The Mission by Ennio Morricone. Although he singled his first jump, a Lutz, he gained 11th place in the FS in a field of 18 and that pulled him up to 12th overall. He is trained by Debbie Davis in Monsey, NY.
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