2007 U.S. Nationals
by Martha L. Kimball
All photos copyright 2007 by George S. Rossano
A very happy Eliot Halverson, 16, of the St. Paul FSC, stood atop the leader board after the opening segment at midday Wednesday on the Convention Center ice.
The Midwestern champion performed a clean and stylish program to a piece called "Hana’s Eyes" by Maksim Mrvica.
Halverson opened with a big triple Lutz—triple toe combination, then performed a triple flip, two level four spin combinations, and level three footwork sequences. With only two negative GOEs, he received scores of 36.22 for elements, 28.90 for program components, and 65.12 for the Short Program segment.
Halverson, who was inspired to skate by the 1998 Worlds in Minneapolis, eagerly looks forward to next year’s Nationals in his hometown.
Colorado Springs-trained Brandon Mroz, 16, Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist, trailed Halverson by 3.36 points with his short program to Nino Rota’s "Improviso." Last year’s Novice silver medalist opened with a triple Lutz—triple toe, then incurred some negative GOEs for his triple flip. He performed two level four spin combinations and received extra GOEs for his circular footwork.
Douglas Razzano, 18, Pacific Coast silver medalist from Arizona, took the third-place slot with an interpretation of Peter Gabriel’s "The Feeling Begins."
Razzano opened with a spread-eagle into double Axel, then a highly rated triple toe—triple toe. He had one level four element, a spin combination, and received marks of 31.42, 26.89 and 58.31.
Curran Oi, 16, of the SC of Boston, fifth at the Junior Grand Prix Final, finished the Short Program event in fourth place. To a trumpet fanfare by Chuck Mangione from "Children of Sanchez," he performed a spread-eagle into his opening double Axel, then a level four combination spin. He followed up with an impressive triple Lutz—triple toe combination but lost the occasional GOE point on his remaining spins and a triple flip. The audience was appreciative of his marks: 33.72, 24.55 and 58.27.
Princeton Kwong, 17, Pacific Coast champion from San Jose, rounded out the top five going into the free skate. To Morricone’s "Marco Polo," he opened big with triple Lutz—triple toe, then accrued some deductions for his triple flip and flying camel. The GOEs for the rest of his elements were generally flat, and he earned scores of 31.68, 25.71, and 57.39.
Austin Kanallakan, because he had placed sixth in the short, had to skate second in the middle flight of three warm-up groups and then wait to see how long his commanding lead would hold up.
The Broadmoor skater, 15, wore black with orange trim to perform to a simple but effective musical arrangement of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, an arrangement well suited to his clean and relaxed presentation.
Kanallakan, eighth in the Junior Grand Prix Final, opened with triple flip—triple toe, triple Lutz—double toe, and triple loop, all with neutral or positive GOEs. After circular footwork, he earned more GOEs for a level four combination spin and a triple flip.
There were minor deductions for the next three elements: triple Lutz; triple Salchow—double toe—double loop; and double Axel. It was clear sailing then through another level four spin combination, straight-line footwork, double Axel, and a final spin. The judges awarded 68.04, 54.86, and 122.90 for an overall event total of 177.94.
Asked how he maintained his cool through the program, Kanallakan said that the opening jumps were crunch time; after that, it was all pretty easy.
"I Just took everything one step at a time and took my time in everything. I didn’t get into the choreography as I usually do, but it was still pretty good….The big thing for me when I do my long program is when I do my first three jumps. When I do those, I know everything is going to work really well. Actually, doing both my double Axels for the first time in my long program is really exciting."
As it turned out, Kanallakan’s long program marks would hold up for the remainder of the event, and his overall lead would hold up through three skaters, until Short Program leader Eliot Halverson took the ice first in the final group.
Halverson looked sharp in black with a medium-green patterned band around the hips and more decorative patterned green down the shirt front. When told that a spectator had taken the pattern for an evergreen design, perhaps a tribute to the Pacific Northwest, Halverson laughed and replied, "When I heard the music for my long program, I wanted to make it look kind of scary, just abstract. I didn’t intend it to look like trees, just something that matched the music. I designed it myself and had it made. It turned out really well."
His three musical segments were from Tales from the Crypt, The Nightmare before Christmas, and Beetlejuice.
Halverson opened with a clean double Axel, then lost some ground on the triple Lutz—triple toe. Next was a clean triple flip; a level four spin combination; circular steps; triple loop—double loop—double loop; double Axel; triple flip—double toe; a level four spin combination; triple Lutz; footwork; triple Salchow; and a final level four combination spin. His GOEs were generally zeros and ones, with few minuses.
"I feel incredible," Halverson said. "That was definitely the program I wanted to do."
Brandon Mroz, second in Short Program, performed second-to-last in the last flight, wearing a striking Spanish-flavored costume of black and burgundy to interpret
The choreography was an asset from the first movement, and Mroz, who has skated since age 3 ½, interpreted it smoothly and with class.
"For that," Mroz said, "I have a lot of work with [choreographer] Tom Dickson to get into that kind of Latin type of character for my program. We also have a modern dance teacher who comes to our rink at least once a month. She’ll work with me, and she’s really good. I’ll e very day work on components, and I’ve gotten better."
Mroz opened with triple Lutz—triple toe and triple flip—double toe, a bit off axis. Next was a flying sit spin with variations and a spread-eagle into double Axel, on which he fell. A change to slower music was accompanied by a level four spin and footwork. As the music built again, Mroz touched a hand down after a triple flip—double toe, then did spread-eagle into triple loop; triple Salchow; triple Lutz (a little floppy); double Axel; footwork; and a level four spin.
The Colorado Springs skater received marks of 60.24, 57.56, and 116.80 for the third-rated long program and 178.56 overall for a silver medal.
Both Kanallakan and Mroz train with coaches Tom Zakrajsek, Becky Calvin, and the rest of their staff. Zakrajsek, a former singles competitor, has a remarkable total of nine skaters at these Nationals. Due to his high level of organization and the good help that he has, he is able to proceed through the many practices and trips to the kiss and cry in an enviably unruffled manner.
Curran Oi performed in the middle of the last flight wearing a blue shirt and black pants to interpret "Freedom" by Michael W. Smith.
He opened with a clean triple loop; double Axe—double toe—double toe; and flying sit spin. Then he put his hand down on the triple flip and executed clean footwork before falling on triple Lutz. The program ended with a level four flying sit combination; spread-eagle into triple flip--double toe; triple Salchow; a level four camel spin combination; triple Lutz—double toe; footwork and a final double Axel landed neatly on the last beat of the music.
Oi received scores of 60.59, 62.54, and 112.23 for the fifth-ranked long program and 170.50 for fourth place overall.
Douglas Razzano, in a layered Colonial blue "puffy shirt" (to cite the Seinfeld reference), with black pants and gloves, presented a nicely measured, musical and elegant interpretation of Warsaw Concerto.
The third place finisher in the Short Program event opened with a strong double Axel and triple Lutz plus a triple flip--double toe, a spin combination and a triple Salchow before falling on a triple toe. There were further GOE deductions for the next three elements: footwork, sit spin, and triple flip with turns out of the landing. The rest of the program was generally clean: triple loop; triple toe--double toe—double toe; footwork; and flying sit combination.
Razzano received scores of 54.09, 56.86, and 109.95, for the sixth-best long program, with a combined total of 168.26 for fifth place overall, a big jump from twelfth in 2006.
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