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2013 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic - Ladies and Men's Finals

by Alexandra Stevenson

Hicks Overtakes Gold for Gold in U.S. International Classic

1.   Overall 171.88; 1.FS 117.08 (61.48+55.60) Courtney Hicks, USA, from Chino Hills, who trains at the All Year FSC in in Paramount, CA, overtook Gracie Gold, the Short Program winner, with a very promising, fire-y routine set to music from “Evita”, which gave her first place by a wide margin of 7.20.

She began with a triple flip to triple toe loop followed by a triple Salchow and a Level 3 flying camel spin which banked her collectively, 18.80 points. The spin was so good one of the five judges punched in the maximum Grade of Execution, +3. But demonstrating how subjective this decision is, although three others gave +2, one thought the spin was worthy only of +1.

Her steps were Level 2 with +1.0 and a double Axel earned an extra 0.50. Then came her only mistake, made as the 10% bonus clicked in. She got -0.70 removed from the base value of her triple Lutz to double toe loop. That was immediately followed by a second, great triple Lutz which was rewarded with +1.27 GoE.

Hicks’ triple loop to double Axel sequence received +0.47 extra. Her flying change foot camel spin was Level 4 with +0.67. Then she did “only” a double flip. After the choreographed sequence, she concluded with a Level 3 +0.50 change foot combination spin. Her component score ranged from two 6.25s up to two 7.75. One judge gave the lowest marks and another the highest.

She said, “I think it went really well. For my Short Program, I got a little nervous and I kind of let that get the best of me. I think with my Free Skate, I was a lot more focused and I’m definitely happy with my skate. I think I just realized that I don’t need to give it anything extra. I’ve already done the work. I’ve done the practices and the training and my programs. I don’t need to try harder in competition, I just need to do what I do in practice. I really like the choreography after the first Lutz. It’s a good breathing moment for me, but it also really helps me connect with the character.”

Asked about her rivals in the quest for one of the three U.S. ladies berths in the Olympics, Hicks said, "It’s more about, I have to compete with myself to skate well. This boosts my confidence. I had a lot of fun out there. I wasn’t too happy with my short program yesterday, but I felt like I fought a lot harder today. My perfomance wasn’t perfect, but I’m happy with the overall result. I worked so hard on this free skate, so I really wanted to give it the chance that I feel like it deserves. I didn’t want to let whatever little mistakes I made yesterday alter what I did today. I just left it in the past and made today a new day.”

2. Overall 164.68; 3.FS 106.19 (49.05+58.14 -1 for a timing violation, going over the maximum three minutes forty seconds), Gracie Gold, USA, from the Wagon Wheels FSC, performed to music from the beloved ballet “Sleeping Beauty”.

Gold was in the planning stage of moving from Michigan to California to coach Frank Carroll. This news was tweeted, not by her, but by an outside source during the event, and might have troubled her by its premature timing. But she refused to blame that. Instead, she cited nerves related to the start of "such a big season" for her struggles in the middle of the program. “I made myself nervous. The pressure never comes from anyone else."

Gold started very well with a triple Lutz to triple toe loop which earned one of the maximum +3 GoEs with the other four judges awarding +2. But then she singled her Axel and doubled her loop which just made their much lower values. She pulled herself back together and executed a Level 4 flying combination spin which earned +1.17 over its base value. Her steps were Level 3 plus a full point.

However, then, at the halfway stage, she doubled a flip, which got an “e” for wrong edge take-off and singled a Lutz. Her triple Salchow earned +0.70 and her change foot combination spin earned a full point over the Level 3 base. The choreographed section came next, and then a double Axel combined with two double toe loops which gained an extra 0.50. She left an excellent impression behind by closing with a wonderful Level 4, +0.17 layback spin, which two of the judges thought deserved the maximum +3 GoE, and the other two gave +2.

Judge No.2 judge gave the highest components, one 7.75, two 7.50s and two 7.25. The rest of the panel awarded a maximum of four 7.0s and went down to two 6.25s.

Gold admitted, “I sort of got out of my knees and I didn’t take my deep breaths. At competitions, I tend to get very stiff and I make myself nervous. The pressure never comes from anyone else. Everyone else is always very supportive. I was really nervous yesterday and today. It’s the first international competition of such a big season and I let that get to my head a little bit.

“It was a big confidence booster that I was at least able to refocus and get out the last few jumps. I was still able to do the spins and the step sequences. I know that I can do all the jumps because I did a perfect triple Lutz-triple toe, no sweat, and I still did the jumps at the end of the program at altitude. It’s just the jumps in the middle where I have to bring myself back down and focus.”

As the silver medalist in the 2013 U.S. Championships, Gold will join the winner, Ashley Wagner, and Zawadzki at the Media Summit in Park City. That lineup serves as a potential roster for Sochi, based on previous achievements, although anything could happen between now and February.

3. Overall 157.29; 2.FS 109.38 (55.79+53.59) Samantha Cesario, USA,who trains in Monsey, and represents the SC of NY, climbed up from fifth with a routine set to music from “Carmen” which was judged second best and earned her the bronze medal. She opened with a triple Lutz, which was given an “e” by the Technical Panel for wrong edge take-off. Then came a +0.70 triple loop and a +0.47 triple flip to double toe loop. Her level 3 flying sit spin gained an extra +0.67, and a triple Salchow +0.70 but the layback spin was only Level 1. And, as she went into the second half, she lost -1.40 on a triple loop which was combined with an Axel instead of a double version of this jump.

Her triple flip to double toe loop to double loop gained +0.23; her Level 3 Straight Line Steps earned an extra +0.85, and a double Axel +0.33. Her change foot combination spin was only Level 2 with +0.50. She concluded with her Choreographed sequence with gained her one of the maximum +3 GoEs. Her components ranged from two 7.25s down to one 6.0 for Transitions.

Cesario said, “The Free was a lot of fun. I wasn’t too happy with my Short Program yesterday, but I felt like I fought a lot harder today. My performance wasn’t perfect, but I’m happy with the overall result.” She shook off a disappointing short program which left her in fifth place. “I worked so hard on this Free Skate, so I really wanted to give it the chance that I feel like it deserves. I didn’t want to let whatever little mistakes I made yesterday alter what I did today. I just left it in the past and made today a new day.”

4.  Overall 151.27; FS 95.00 (42.79+53.21 -1); Agnes Zawadzki, who represents both Chicago, her home town, and Colorado Springs where she trains, lay second after the Short Program but placed only fifth in the Free. She spoke of a need to develop different strategy, going forward. Her first step, she said, is to "just kind of get my head on straight. It’s definitely back to the drawing board for me. My next thing isn’t until November so I’ve got a good month and some weeks to get that program done. I need to strategize and figure out what I need to do, what works, what doesn’t work and kind of get my head on straight. I did learn a lot here and I’m definitely going to take that with me to the next competition.”

Skating to Tango music, Zawadzki began, for her, unimpressively with a double loop which lost -0.40 from its base value. Then came a triple toe loop to double toe loop which earned an extra -0.47. Her Level 3 steps gained an extra +0.50 but the following double Lutz only made its base value. The flying camel spin which followed was only Level 1, and then she fell on her triple Lutz.

Her triple Salchow to double toe loop lost -0.23, but her Layback spin was a good Level 3 with +0.50. The double Axel which followed lost -0.33 from its base value, but the choreographed section, which has only Level 1, gained an extra 0.50. Her change foot combination closing spin was Level 1 with +0.50.

5.  Overall 147.88; FS 96.94 (43.34+53.60) Amelie LaCoste the 2011 &2012 Canadian champion, was a disappointed fourth in both sections, and even more upset to finish fifth overall. She began with a super triple loop which earned one of the maximum +3 GoEs with the rest of the panel giving +2. But then her next element was only a base value double Lutz to double loop.

LaCoste executed a +0.70 triple Salchow, a Level 4, +0.67 GoE flying combination sit spin, and her steps were Level 3 with +1.0. But the next four elements all got minuses. Her Layback spin was only Level 1 with +0.50. However, her choreographed section earned one +3, and her final spin was Level 4 with +0.50.

Men's Free Skate

1.  Overall 239.21; 1.FS 157 (81.88+75.84)  Max Aaron from the Scottsdale, Ariz. and Colorado Springs, Broadmoor SC) did not skate as well as in the SP, beginning his “Carmen” routine off key with a double toe loop. His second move was a Quad Salchow to single toe loop. Then came a +0.70 triple loop but only a base value flying camel combo spin.

His straight line steps were Level 3 with +0.50. After another spin, which was given only the basic Level B, he got credit for the rotations on his second quad Salchow, but with a -2 taken off the base value.

Then he seemed to pull himself together: With the ten percent late bonus having clicked in, he did a triple Axel to double toe which gained an extra +1.67, and a triple Lutz-loop-triple Salchow was awarded an extra 1.17. His second triple Axel got a full point extra. After the choreographed section, he got an “e” for a triple flip and he closed with a change foot combination spin which was only Level 1 but earned an extra.+0.83.

About his performance, he said: “This is the first time I’ve competed this program with the tricks in it and I’ve gotten really good feedback based on what I did. Now I’m going to get back to work and get ready for Skate America. I wanted to see what it would take to do three quads in a program and now I know that I’ve got my hands full.”

“For Skate America, I’m going to keep training everything the same way. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to compete in this event. I’ve got to get ready and test the programs. Right now all I can do is keep training and figure out how to make these clean performances.”

2.  Overall 225.54; FS 148.06 (76.88+73.18) Stephen Carriere from the SC of Boston skated to Don Quixote, falling on his first move a Quad toe loop, then brought off a +1.33 triple Axel to double toe loop. But then he fell again, on his second triple Axel. After Level 2 steps, he presented a Level 4, +0.67 change foot combination spin. A triple Salchow combined with two double toe loops was good but then his triple Lutz to triple toe loop got an arrow for under-rotation on the second jump. His triple loop made its base value, but the triple flip got an “e” for wrong edge take-off. The last four moves were good: Level 3 flying sit spin with +0.67; +0.93 triple Lutz; the choreographed section; and a Level 4 flying change foot combination spin which received an extra +0.50.

Of his performances, he said, “As tired as I am, I’m really happy. I’m glad I went for the toe and I’m glad that I fought and I got through it - especially in September. This week I learned that I’m much more mentally tough than I thought I was. That’s the biggest thing, just giving myself more mental strength. I know that I was tired today, but I think if I was in tip-top mental shape, that wouldn’t have mattered. It’s something that I need to work on and this competition definitely helped me with that.”

3.  Overall 206.56; FS 134.71 (57.37+78.34); Joshua Farris (Colorado Springs, Colo. & the, Broadmoor SC) said about his performance, which was set to the poignant music, “Schindler’s List, “It’s September, it’s early. Can I blame it on Friday the 13th ? Please? I definitely haven’t been training my best or as hard as I possibly can and I think that definitely caught up with me here. I won’t make that mistake again.

“It’s a brand new program for me and because I can connect with it so well, especially the beginning, which is so intense, I definitely want to bring that out in my skating. I might focus on the choreography just a little bit too much.”

4.  Overall 191.91; FS 128.62.(60.94+69.68 -2) Grant Hochstein from Detroit, Artesia, Calif., and the SC of New York, skated to “Trio Elegiaque No.2”, Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No.3” and Dvorak’s “Dumky Trio”. He fell twice - on first two moves, both quad toes. He also was given no credit for his choreographed section.

On his performance, he said, “I think as the week went on, I got better. There were some little silly, shaky things, but I thought that today, I definitely didn’t hold back. I think what I did was the smart thing to do and I’m really proud of myself for going for the second quad, especially after missing the first one. I really have nothing to lose and everything to gain from this event.”

About competing in this event, he said,“I feel like I’ve really gained a sense of self and I feel like I belong here. I had a really solid free skate and I did a nice quad-triple. I felt a little bit tight, but I think I’ve been out of the international scene for a long time and this really showed me that I can be here and do what it takes.”

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