All photos copyright 2007 by George S. Rossano
The 2007 Nationals officially began with the Novice Compulsory Dance event, played out before a dense crowd at the Convention Center rink, an oval of ice surrounded by boards draped in royal blue. Those boards in turn were ringed by a concrete floor and metal bleachers.
Preschool children, one waving a cluster of balloons, used the open space between bleachers and boards to present their uninhibited interpretations of the repetitive musical pieces, first the many European Waltzes and then the equally numerous Paso Dobles.
Event officials included Linda Leaver, technical controller; Shawn Rettstatt, technical specialist; and Matthew Gates, assistant technical specialist. Hal Marron served as referee.
The field of twelve teams included two pairs of siblings: two sisters, Anastasia and Isabella Cannuscio, and two brothers, Alexander and Ian Lorello.
Sara Bailey, 16, and Kyle Herring, 17, who train in Newark, Del., took first place for both dances. The Eastern champions, 5-foot-1 and 5-foot-8, smiled broadly and skated with the confidence that qualifying at the top of their section conferred.
"I think," said Herring, "because we are such a new team [paired in late April of 2006] but weíve had so much success this year, we were hoping to be the top team, but we werenít really looking for a certain result. We were just trying to come out and skate confident. We know what we can do, so we wanted to put that out there."
The personable duo received 18.77 (Technical Score, TES) and 17.38 (Program Components, PCS) for a total segment score (TSS) of 25.31 for the waltz, performed in white and pale aqua, and 17.26, 17.82, and 24.56 for their crisp Paso Doble, for a total Compulsory Dance score of 49.87. Their grade of execution scores (GOEs), mostly positive, included four twos. Their performance and interpretation grades were enviable.
Herring wasnít sure whether or not the marks represented a personal best.
"I just go by how we skated. I donít really keep track of the numbers too much."
In rating the dayís performance Bailey added, "It was a little shaky in some areas, but weíre happy. We think we skated well."
Brother and sister Maia Shibutani, 12, and Alex Shibutani, 15, likewise remained consistent, in second place, over two dances. The Midwestern champions, who train in Colorado Springs, performed with verve and were crowd-pleasers.
Although their official bio sheet lists their heights as 4-foot-10 and 5-foot-4, there is clearly a greater disparity.
"Iíve grown a lot over the past year, probably four or five inches," Alex agreed. "I have no idea how tall I am. I havenít really been keeping track."
Suffice it to say that Maia now appears even more impossibly and charmingly petite in contrast. Thatís part of their Wow! factor.
The 2006 Intermediate champions performed their waltz in refreshing shamrock green costumes and garnered ratings of 17.93 and 16.88 for a 24.37 TSS. Their confident and energetic Paso Doble earned 17.27, 17.77, and 24.53 for a combined score of 48.90 and a handful of GOEs of two.
"They both went equally well," Alex said of the two performances with obvious gratitude and pleasure.
Maia was basking in the moment as well.
"We were really happy to make it this far. This is just a wonderful experience."
Asked if they get along as brother and sister, Alex gave his only sibling a big hug.
The duo acknowledge that a lot of credit is due to their parents for the enormous support that it has taken to bring them to this moment of promise.
On the subject of siblings, the Cannuscio sisters reversed the relative order of their finish at Easterns with Anastasia, 14, partnered with Dean Copely, 17, taking third over Isabellaís fourth and fifth in the compulsories. Isabella, 16, with Ian Lorello, 16, is the Eastern silver medalist while her sister owns the bronze.
"Weíre not really that competitive," said Anastasia, fetching during the waltz in a dress of electric yellow. "When we compete against each other, itís not really that awkward. Youíd think that it would be really, really weird, but itís not. Weíll still really close. That hasnít changed."
Copely happily rated the dayís performances: "We couldnít have done any better."
He had ended the Paso Doble routine with flair, executing a sort of stag-position leap that garnered a Whoo! from the crowd.
"I donít have a name for it yet," Copely said, "but Iíll come up with one. Last week I made it a double loop. It was perfect." The move is still undergoing alterations and embellishments
Marks of 16.94, 15.74, and 22.88 for the European Waltz and 17.07, 16.33, and 23.38 for the Paso Doble totaled 46.26 with a small scattering of deductions.
Isabella Cannuscio and Ian Lorello, from the University of Delaware, placed fifth in the waltz after sweeping right along the edge of boards early in the dance. They received 16.51, 15.76, and 22.59 for the effort, then 15.97, 15.99, and 22.37 for their fourth-rated Paso Doble, for a Compulsory Dance total of 44.96.
The fourth-rated waltz belonged to Elyse Matsumoto, 16, and Andrew Skillington, 20, Pacific Coast silver medalists. Matsumoto wore a rose dress, one of the prettiest of the event. The team earned 17.00, 15.33, and 22.63.
However, their Paso Doble, with many deductions for the second half of the performance, earned sixth place with scores of 14.31, 15.70, and 21.01 for a fifth place overall with a total of 43.64.
Skating to the soundtrack from "Memoirs of a Geisha" the brother and sister team of Maia and Alex Shibutani won the Free Dance and moved up from second in the Compulsory Dance and Original Dance to win the event. The team was the Intermediate National Champions in 2006. Their routine was mostly well polished and received Program Component scores in the low 5s. There were also a few rough spots, and their rotational lift was a little wild. Maia is currently a bit too short for him, but she should catch up eventually as she is only 12. She will be 13 in July, while Alex will be 16 in April.
Sara Bailey & Kyle Herring dropped from first in the Compulsory Dance and Original Dance to second in the Free Dance and Second overall. They trailed by just 2.06 points in the final standings. Skating to Sara Brightman's "Harem" they had a generally good skate, with minor issues, and one stupid error -- on their twizzles four judges gave them GoEs of -1 which cost them at least 0.21 points, but the killer was a fall "in nothing" as they were about to enter their closing pose. Event without these problems, however, they still would have placed second.
The Cannuscio sisters and their partners chased each other throughout the competition, and in the end Anastasia Connuscio & Dean Copley captured third place overall with third place finishes in the first two dances and a fourth place finish in the Free Dance. They skated nearly clean, with just two GoEs of -1 among the six elements. Skating to the soundtrack from "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" the skated a strong routine, though not as strong as her sister competing with Ian Lorello.
Connuscio (Isabella) & Lorello placed third in the Free Dance performing to "A New World". It was a close contest between the third and fourth place teams, with just 0.68 points separating them. Their routine was well skated, strong and energetic. They finished 0.62points behind third place.
|Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani||Sara Bailey & Kyle Herring||Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello|
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