2005 U.S. Nationals

Novice Ladies

by Martha L. Kimball


Place Skater SP FS
1 Rachael Flatt 2 2
2 Megan Hyatt 5 1

Katrina Hacker

6 3
4 Caroline Zhang 4 4
5 Kirsten Olson 3 7
6 Kaysi Kitsell 1 8
7 Ashley Wagner 8 5
8 Melissa Bulanhagui 7 6
9 Brittany Rizo 9 10
10 Victoria Rackohn 12 9
11 Ameena Sheikh 10 11
12 Tiffany Yu 11 12


Short Program

Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Tiffany Yu

  2. Brittany Rizo

  3. Victoria Rackohn

  4. Katrina Hacker

  5. Caroline Zhang

  6. Rachael Flatt

  7. Melissa Bulanhagui

  8. Ameena Sheikh

  9. Kaysi Kitsell

  10. Ashley Wagner

  11. Megan Hyatt

  12. Kirsten Olson


Short Program Placements
Place Skater
1 Kaysi Kitsell
2 Rachael Flatt
3 Kirsten Olson
4 Caroline Zhang
5 Megan Hyatt

Katrina Hacker

7 Melissa Bulanhagui
8 Ashley Wagner
9 Brittany Rizo
10 Ameena Sheikh
11 Tiffany Yu
12 Victoria Rackohn



Kaysi Kitsell of Riverchase, AK, born in Birmingham, AL, representative of the Skating Club of New York, and trained by Robin Wagner in Hackensack, NJ (after a recent move from Atlanta), led the pack when the short programs ended.

This was perhaps an unexpected result for the Eastern Sectional silver medalist, and her ordinals ran from first to fifth.

The 15-year-old has a mind of her own. She brought her music, fait accompli, to her coach. Since neither knew its name, they called it "Dreams." Asked to explain the style of her aqua and white costume with a faux bare midriff, Kitsell laughed, "I don’t know. I think it was kind of ‘my-stylish.’ I just kind of drew it."

The program featured triple toe – double toe and a full panoply of clean elements including a camel – sit – Biellmann – back sit – "heel stretch" spin combination.

Kitsell identified her personal strengths as "spins and stroking."

Rachel Flatt, just 12 1/2, of Del Mar, CA, entertained the crowd and placed second with an appealing and innocent interpretation of "Summertime."

Coached at the Broadmoor by Tom Zakrajsek, the full-time seventh-grader wore a summer-sweet turquoise-and-white dress with turquoise dots to float through an opening double Axel (big smile), triple Salchow – double toe loop, and solid spins.

The first-timer at senior Nationals aimed to "just have a lot of fun."

Her final assessment? "I loved it all. I had a lot of fun out there."

Kristen Olson, who donned black velvet to perform to Puccini’s "Nessun Dorma" from Turandot, finished third. Like Flatt, Olson executed a triple Salchow – double toe loop jump combination.

Her double Axel leaned, but she hung tough and used her strength to land it clean.

"It was a little bit slanted in the air … and I just ended up landing on the toe a little bit."

The highlight of Olson’s program was the audience-pleasing, big-finish combination spin that ended with a speedy headless back scratch spin.

One somewhat surprising outcome was the fourth-place finish (a tie for fourth broken by total of marks) of petite Wunderkind Caroline Zhang, a delicate, elegant skater with exceptional extensions and flexibility.

The precocious 11-year-old, just 4’4", flowed through "After the Rain" with exceptional spins but was no doubt penalized for her two-footed and "flutzed" triple Lutz combination with an unattractive entrance.


Free Skate

Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Brittany Rizo

  2. Victoria Rackohn

  3. Ameena Sheikh

  4. Tiffany Yu

  5. Melissa Bulanhagui

  6. Ashley Wagner

  7. Megan Hyatt

  8. Katrina Hacker

  9. Caroline Zhang

  10. Kirsten Olson

  11. Rachael Flatt

  12. Kaysi Kitsell


Free Skating Placements
Place Skater
1 Megan Hyatt
2 Rachael Flatt

Katrina Hacker

4 Caroline Zhang
5 Ashley Wagner
6 Melissa Bulanhagui
7 Kirsten Olson
8 Kaysi Kitsell
9 Victoria Rackohn
10 Brittany Rizo
11 Ameena Sheikh
12 Tiffany Yu

There was dramatic movement in the standings between the Short Program and the Free. Consistently excellent Rachel Flatt, second in both segments, won the day with first place overall.

"It is an amazing feeling," said the petite 12-and-a-half-year old.

The California native trained at the Broadmoor SC by Tom Zakrajsek and beautifully choreographed by Becky Calvin followed up her airy "Summertime" short with a dramatic "Firebird" long.

Flatt’s program featured three triples, Salchow and toe loop in combination and a solo Salchow, as well as double Axel, flip and Lutz and double Axel – double loop. The performance was notable, too, for spin variations, a deep layback, and lovely connecting edge moves including spreadeagle and Ina Bauer.

"I’ve always loved doing connecting steps. I learned my Ina Bauer and my spreadeagle a long time ago, and it has just developed over time. It’s really fun to do."

After an ethereal opening footwork section, Flatt landed a big double Axel right on the first boom in the music. She then fell on a triple flip, her first and only error.

Flatt’s program had a surprise ending. Her camel – layback – back camel – back sit spin combination seemed to be the final element, but she skated on and landed an unexpected double Lutz right on the closing musical beat.

Flatt, clearly a skater to watch, is a precocious youngster still in the process of refining her technique. She hunches her shoulders on jump entrances, a flaw whose correction Zakrajsek addressed head-on when queried.

"Some of the developmental issues in her skating we’re addressing. She’s here at this competition to get experience and make herself batter. That will be a natural byproduct of this experience. We always analyze her programs and set goals based on watching videotapes after the competition. That was something that she was working on. I thought that she skated quite well up until the last part of her program, and that’s where I think she kind of lost her form."

The coach mentioned the enormous leap that his pupil has made in one season.

"This was, from my standpoint, a huge improvement for her as an athlete, because she was at Junior Nationals last year in Phoenix and she didn’t even make the cut there. In one year, to learn three triple jumps and to qualify for Nationals and then win, to me that’s showing a lot of maturity as an athlete and the ability to compete well under pressure. It wasn’t her best today, but she’s really proved to me that she’s reliable and very determined."

Determination is a word that could likewise characterize Megan Hyatt’s triumph over a fifth-ranked short program. She won the Free Skating event and the silver medal.

Hyatt, 14, from Lindenhurst, IL, trains at the Wagon Wheel FSC under Denise Myers. She performed to "Malaguena," executing three triples, two toe loops and a Salchow, one of the former in combination, as well as two double Axels, one in combination, and double flip and loop.

Spins, including a flying camel and layback, and circular footwork filled out the program that was marred only by a popped Lutz early on.

The high school freshman, who takes four courses and trains before and after classes, plans to move up to Junior next season.

"I’ll have to have more difficult entries into my spins and more changes of position," Hyatt forecasted.

Katrina Hacker, 14, of Dobbs Ferry, NY, moved from sixth after the Short Program event to the bronze medal position with a clean, serene, and well-measured program that the judges ranked third best.

Trained by Tracy Lunde in Elmsford, NY, Hacker wore a violet dress to float through Galsinov’s "The Seasons." After the skate gods tripped her up in a fluke fall at the outset of her program, she executed five triples, including triple Salchow – double loop and triple Salchow, Lutz, loop, and toe loop.

After the fall, Hacker reported, her first thought was, "Oh no, I can’t believe that just happened." Then she picked herself up, calmed herself down, and thought, "Okay, that doesn’t matter. It wasn’t on anything important."

Hacker, who plans to move up to Junior, performed some excellent spins including camel – Biellmann – back sit – Y spin (catch-leg upright) and a split - falling leaf effect. She plans to do some trial judging, which will help her adapt to the changing face of skating.

Caroline Zhang was four-four for the two event segments. She skated her long to "Nessun Dorma" from Turandot in midnight blue, displaying her amazing spiral and spin technique yet seeming somewhat slow and hesitant. She two-footed her triple loop and had some form and technique problems with her two triple Lutzes, one in combination.

The heartbreak of the event was Kaysi Kitsell’s fall from leader to eighth in the free, sixth overall. She seemed slow and cautious on jump entrances, falling three times. On the positive side of the ledger, the Alaskan who trains with Robin Wagner in New Jersey pulled off a spectacular triple Lutz and finished with a nice spin combination, though the music "Kiss" by Yoskiki ended abruptly.


          J1:  Kimberly Heim
          J2:  Doug Williams
          J3:  Peggy Graham
          J4:  Jan Serefine
          J5:  Melissa Kent
          J6:  Colette Nygren
          J7:  Linda Chihara
          J8:  Margaret Faulkner
          J9:  Lawrence Mondschein


Short Program
Place Skater J1 J2 J3 J4 J5 J6 J7 J8 J9 Maj. TOM


Free Skting
Place Skater J1 J2 J3 J4 J5 J6 J7 J8 J9 Maj. TOM

Return to title page