Moran Memorial Short Programs

By Lynn Rutherford

During the Moran Memorial short programs at Hackensackís Ice House this evening, three thoughts struck me: Nikolai Morozov does really, really great programs for male skaters; the facilitiesí French fries are almost as good as the ones you get at McDonaldís; and an awful lot of girls are using "Tango de Roxanne" this season.

The competition, which attracts no-test through senior skaters throughout the tri-state area, is held in honor of Lori Moran-Ditchkus (January 27, 1964-September 2, 1998), the first co-director of figure skating at Ice House. Prior to arriving at Ice House in 1997, she was skating director of the Wollman Rink in Central Park and Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers. Lori and her husband, Michael Ditchkus, were on their way to a vacation in France when they were lost in the tragic crash of Swissair Flight 111. Many still feel their loss, and a scholarship fund to assist aspiring skaters was established in Loriís name.

Junior Ladies Short Programs

1. Anastasiya Kononenko (North Jersey FSC) won with 43.33 points (24.83 TES + 18.50 PCS), with program component scores ranging from 4.44 up to 4.75.

Performing a stylish short to Dave Brubeckís "Take Five," Kononenko, who placed eighth at the 2008 Eastern Junior Sectionals, opened with triple toe-double loop, followed by a triple Lutz. (One or both triples may have been under rotated.) Her remaining elements were first-rate. Her spirals showed good extension; her double Axel was excellent; her circle steps had speed and flow; and her spins, including a camel combination and layback to Biellmann, were strong.

2. Samantha Cesario (SC of New York) was second with 41.98 points (23.78 TES + 18.20 PCS), with program component scores ranging from 4.38 up to 4.75.

Wearing a sophisticated black lace dress with red underskirt, Cesario had an expressive routine to the ubiquitous "Tango de Roxanne." She opened with a double Lutz, followed by a solid triple Salchow-double loop. Her layback was stunning, showing extreme flexibility; her double Axel was solid; and her steps were intricate and musical. She wobbled a bit on a combination spin, but ended in time with the music.

3. Kristiene Gong (SC of New York) was third with 38.40 points (20.40 TES + 18 PCS), with program component scores ranging from 4.25 to 4.69.

This energetic skater, who is coached by 1982 world champion Elaine Zayak, was one of only a few junior ladies who chose upbeat music, performing her charming short to a Russian folk dance. She opened with a strong double Axel, followed by a double flip-double loop and an (under rotated) triple Lutz. She closed with a fine layback that reached the Biellmann position.

"Iím not too happy with it, but itís the first time out with the program," Gong said. "I wanted to do a triple flip."

4. Jessica Wai (North Jersey FSC) was fourth with 35.62 points (22.07 TES + 14.55 PCS).

Wai, who performed to Latin-tinged music, opened with a nice double Axel, followed by a double flip-double toe and a solid attempt at a triple Lutz that may have been judged under rotated. She had strong spins, including a camel combination to the "donut" position and final combination featuring the Beillmann position.

Wai is scheduled to compete for Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) in the JGP in Merano, Italy next month. Her JGP debut was in Sofia last fall.

5. Kelsey Rowley (U of Delaware SC) was fifth with 35.04 points (19.14 TES + 15.90 PCS)

6. Camille Menendez (American Academy FSC) was sixth with 33.18 points (17.73 TES + 15.45 PCS)

7. Molly Novello (Garden State SC) was seventh with 30.90 points (16.45 TES + 14.45 PCS)

8. Taylor Chang (SC of New York) was eighth with 29.67 points (15.07 TES + 14.60 PCS)

9. Victoria Calderone (SC of New York) was ninth with 29.17 points (16.12 TES + 13.05 PCS)

10. Kristiana Zuccarini (SC of New York) was tenth with 24.03 points (12.88 TES + 12.15 PCS)

11. Tasnova Rouf (SC of New York) was eleventh with 23.70 points (11.20 TES + 13.50 PCS)

12. Tiffany Wu (SC of New York) was twelfth with 20.45 points (10.20 TES + 12.25 PCS)

Senior Ladies Short Programs

Neither 2007 World Champion Miki Ando, nor three-time world medalist Fumie Suguri, skated although both were on the entry list.

1. Elene Gedevanishvili of Georgia won with 43.91 points (24.11 TES + 20.80 PCS), with program components ranging from 4.94 to 5.69.

Clad all in black, including tights, Gedevanishvili performed an energetic program to the overture from Cabaret. Although speedy and polished, she had trouble with her jumps, falling on a triple Lutz and improvising a triple Salchow-double toe combination. She showed fast spins, fine extension on her spirals and a strong double Axel.

2. Joelle Forte (SC of New York) was second with 41.12 points (22.97 TES + 18.15 PCS), with program components ranging from 4.38 to 4.75.

The chic Forte opened with a triple Lutz-double toe with good speed, but popped an intended double Axel to a single and landed it on two feet. She had good height on her flying sit spin, which ended in a "pancake" position, and showed fine extension on her spiral sequence. Her layback spin included the "skate-to-head" position, and her triple Salchow was solid. She had good, clean positions in her spins, but her final combination ended a few beats behind the music.

3. Amanda Gordon (Amherst SC) was third with 40.28 points (21.48 TES + 18.80 PCS), with program components ranging from 4.44 to 4.88.

Performing to the overture from Cats, Gordon opened with a solid triple Salchow-double toe and a nice triple toe. She showed good height on her flying sit spin combination and had a nice position in her layback, but "waxeled" on her double Axel attempt.

4.Zsa Zsa Riordan (SC of New York) was fourth with 30.58 points (13.68 TES + 16.90 PCS)

Yet another "Tango de Roxanne." Riordan stepped out of the first jump of her triple toe-double toe combination, then attempted a triple Salchow but under rotated it and landed on two feet. Her double Axel turned into a waltz jump; on the plus side, she showed solid spins.

Riordan made her junior international debut for Poland this past spring (Challenge Cup in The Hague).

5. Jazmyn Manzouri (SC of New York) was fifth with 22.74 points

6. Xiao Shan Liao (Cantiague FSC) was sixth with 20.22 points

7.Rachel Manning (Glissad Academy) was seventh with 19.91 points

Junior Menís Short Programs

This event had just two entrants: Daisuke Murakami of Japan and Jesse Berman of SC of New York.

Murakami performed an impressive short choreographed by his coach, Morozov, to Mussorgskyís "Night on Bald Mountain." He landed a triple flip-triple loop and triple Lutz, but fell on his triple Axel. His footwork sequences were excellent, and his final combination spin sped up to a fast scratch spin at the close. He earned 60.62 points (36.67 TES + 24.95 PCS), with program components ranging from 4.88 to 5.38.

"It went good for the first time out this year," the 17-year-old Murakami said. "Iíve been having problems with the triple Axel lately but Iím glad I tried it."

Murakami, who moved to Hackensack to train under Morozov last summer, will next compete at the JGP in Mexico City.

"It will be my first time representing Japan and Iím really excited about it," he said. "Itís also the first time I will go to an international event with Nikolai, and hopefully I will pull good results."

Berman, a tall skater with fine on-ice presence, fell on a triple Lutz but landed a strong double Axel. He earned 32.11 points (13.04 TES + 20.07 PCS).

Senior Menís Short Programs

Here, too, there were only two entrants, Nobunari Oda of Japan and Adam Rippon (SC of New York). Both are world junior champions: Oda won his title in 2005, and Rippon is the reigning (2008) champion.

Performing an exciting program to Aram Khachaturianís "Masquerade Waltz," Oda won with 63.62 points (36.49 TES + 28.13 PCS) with program components ranging from 5.19 up to 5.81. Despite a fall on a triple Axel, the program Ė choreographed by Lori Nichol last fall Ė looked crisp and refined, almost in mid-season form. Odaís military-inspired costume, with black pants and a complicated jacket top featuring cutouts and gold insignia and buttons, added to the effect.

Oda landed a solid triple Lutz-triple toe and triple flip, as well as a high flying sit spin combination spin and a truly inspired combination spin, featuring low sit-change-sit positions with his hands behind his back, which segued immediately into his straight-line footwork. He executed his steps with flair and closed with a strong, fast combination spin.

Ripponís short to Vivaldiís "Four Seasons" earned 57.64 points (32.82 TES + 25.82 PCS) with program components ranging from 4.94 up to 5.31.

The promising skater, who will compete at Skate America in October, had energetic steps bit was a shade off on his jumps and spins. He opened with a triple flip with a "saved" landing, then attempted a triple Axel in center ice but landed on two feet and fell. His triple Lutz-double toe was a bit close to the boards, which prevented him from trying a triple-triple, and he wobbled a bit on the "running" entrance to his camel combination spin. His final combination spin showed a stunning layback position with grasped blade.

"I didnít get my [final] music until yesterday; today is the first time Iíve heard it," the 18-year-old Rippon said. "Itís still so early [in the season]. As Nikolai told me, ĎYouíre really not competing until October.í I did this event mostly to get monitored [by U.S. Skating]."

Disclaimer (of sorts): The spelling of all names, and the clubs of all skaters, is as featured in the event program. Judgesí details were not available, so mistakes in elements Ė including jump rotations, edges, etc. Ė are possible.

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