by Martha Kimball
All photos copyright 2009 by George S. Rossano
Cassie Andrews and Nicholas Anderson, Midwestern champions, topped the leader board at the end of the Short Program event. The duo from Indiana, skating in vivid yellow and black to Spanish-themed music, "Jalouse Andalouse," opened with a high double split twist and a lasso lift.
Andrews, 15, and Anderson, 17, admitted to finishing ahead of the music, and "getting a little lost" during the side-by-side combination spins, but otherwise displayed strong skills. They received 29.98 for Executed Elements and 29.02 for Program Components for a total factored Segment Score of 39.53, more than three points ahead of their nearest rivals.
In second, with scores of 27.83, 25.53 and 35.75 for the segment were Haven Denney and Daniel Raad, second at Easterns. The Floridians are separated by a wide age gap. Denney is 13; Raad is 21.
Performing fourth, in black with yellow trim, to "Sing, Sing, Sing," they presented the first no-fall routine of the event. After a solid double twist, Denney managed, with some difficulty, a throw double flip, then pulled out of her double Lutz rather badly. The rest was smooth sailing until some synch problems occurred during the side-by-side combination spin. Program component scores were all in the fours.
Olivia Gibbons and Tyler Harris, Eastern champions, placed third, performing in plum-colored outfits to Spanish-themed "Tango de los Exilados." The Boston-trained duo, aged 15 and 20, opened with a high double twist and a throw double loop.
The only jarring element was Gibbons’s singled Lutz that occasioned -3 GoEs across the board. There was an encouraging crowd reaction as the program built to its crescendo through the spiral sequence, pair spin and death spiral. The effort netted scores of 25.67, 26.74, and 35.11.
Texans Ashley Cain, 13, and Sergey Sidorev, 20, third at Midwesterns, secured the fourth-place spot skating in black and white to big, witty music, the classical-sounding parody "Tango" from the Adams Family Values soundtrack. They made an unexpectedly quiet start – a nice change from custom – with the soft spiral sequence that preceded the big double twist.
Cain had a bad and costly set-down out of the lift that followed, but the rest of the program went well, with only a little bobble on the landing of the throw double Lutz. The lowest component score was for transitions; the highest for skating skills. Scores were 23.39, 23.70, and 31.55 for the segment.
In fifth, no thanks to a shaky start, were Tori Vollmer and Zack Sidhu, Pacific Coast champions. They performed first in the competition, wearing turquoise (hers) and black and white (his) to interpret music from Silk Stockings.
The opening double twist drew negative GoEs, fewer though than her fall on the throw double Axel. It was a credible job overall for this Meno and Sand team, ages 14 and 17, who received scores of 24.07, 22.29, and 30.39 overall.
Lauren Gifford,14, and Carson Bodnarek, 17, second at Midwesterns, ended the Short Program in sixth, performing in black and hot raspberry to "Allegretto" by Bond, popularly known as the diamond commercial music. Gifford had a fluky fall between elements, and the side-by-side combination spin was off at the end, but this was a solidly skated program by a team whose component scores are just creeping into the four range.
Many among the rest of the field suffered deductions for falls on elements. The most intriguing of those falls – the audience applauded the replay – were Marissa Spector and Christopher Nolan’s perfectly synchronized double Lutz tumbles. Those couldn’t have been better choreographed.
Cassie Andrews of Mays, Ind., and Nicholas Anderson of Franklin, Tenn., both representing the Indiana World Skating Academy FSC, are the new Novice champions. They had enough of a lead in the Short Program, nearly four points, to squeak out the win by 1.11 after a second-ranked Free Skate.
They wore black with hot pink accents to interpret "Scorchio" by Bond, strong, dramatic music throughout. They opened with a high double twist, a solid throw double loop and a hand-to-hand lift, all in positive GoE territory, before singling the planned double Lutz and going off synch in a flying camel combination spin. Andrews later singled the jumps in a planned double flip combination, but the final three elements were smooth sailing.
The duo termed it a good skate in spite of the jump problems which Anderson explained with tongue in cheek as "Mental lapse. It’s a technical term."
Andrews & Anderson were awarded two level fours, four level threes, and a level two for the straight-line footwork, accruing scores of 37.52 for Executed Elements, 39.15 for Program Components (including 5.07 for skating skills and 5.04 for choreography), 76.67 for the segment and 116.20 overall.
Anderson said, "We just went for it. We had nothing to lose." Andrews added, "Today felt a lot easier than in practice."
Haven Denney from Wesley Chapel, Fl., representing the Southwest Florida FSC, and Daniel Raad from Parrish, Fl., representing the Park FSC, won the Free Dance but stayed in second overall with marks of 41.45, 39.89, 79.34 and 115.09.
The duo seemed disappointed, justifiably so, since the result would have been otherwise had they not both fallen—in perfect unison.
Said Raad, "I don’t know how we managed to fall at the same time. It’s a little rough. I think it was just a lot of adrenaline. Just a silly mistake. A costly silly mistake."
The team has been together for less than six months, and they were happy overall with their performance.
Skating in red and black to "Hernando’s Hideaway," they opened with a nice double twist, then executed triple Salchows that were short on unison. Next came a solid throw triple Salchow, followed by the freak fall that occurred on the crossovers that preceded their biggest point-getter, a level three lift.
They had only a light smattering of negative GoEs and received extra credit for three elements based on their positions in the program: a double Axel-double loop sequence, a throw double flip, and a level-four lift. Three of their component scores—for skating skills, performance and choreography—were 5.00 or better.
Olivia Gibbons of Boston, Mass., and Tyler Harris of Lawrenceville, N.J., both representing the SC of Boston, overcame a fourth-ranked free skate to remain in third place overall with scores of 37.98, 37.26, 75.24 and 106.67.
Gibbons wore cream and gold to interpret her role to music called "Cleopatra." Harris wore charcoal with a sequin pattern that I thought might make him Mark Antony or his ilk, but Gibbons claimed that her partner represented "kind of like a servant boy."
Harris offered charmingly, "I can get the outfit later. You can look at it."
The personable pair completed some nice elements including a double twist, a hand-to-hand lift, a flying camel combination spin, and a level-three lift that received extra credit.
Gibbons put a hand down on the throw double flip and two-footed the throw double loop. Harris swung out of the double Lutz-double loop combination, and his flawed late-program double flip received the most negative GoEs. On the plus side, both of the spins were rated level four.
As Harris assessed the program, "Our lifts, I thought those were really good. And our side-by-side Lutz-loops, we were having trouble on those a little bit before and we pulled them out, which we were really happy about."
On the subject of the flip, "I believe I was just getting tired; and I got a little ahead of myself, just because I was so happy I landed the Lutz-loop so near the end."
"We’ve only been together for six months," Gibbons said, "This is just so surreal. I didn’t expect it at all. We just wanted to come out and do a good training, so being on the podium is something extra. Awesome."
Lauren Gifford of Robins, Iowa, and Carson Bodnarek of Iowa City, Iowa, both representing the Eastern Iowa FSC, had the third-best free skate and pulled up from sixth to fourth overall. They performed in red and black to music from the Addams Family movie.
Highlights were a double Axel, a really nice lateral double twist, a throw double loop, and a level-four hand-to-hand lift, their four opening elements. They had difficulties with the double Lutz-double toe loop combination and their late-program combination spin.
Gifford & Bodnarek received scores of 40.12, 38.38, 76.50 and 106.67. They were credited with two level-four elements and components in the high fours, the highest of those for skating skills.
Tori Vollmer of Corona, Calif., representing the Inland Empire FSC, and Zack Sidhu of Las Vegas, Nev., representing the Las Vegas FSC, skated the fifth-ranked free program and stayed in fifth overall, performing in red and black to West Side Story. Vollmer had an embarrassing break in her forward inside death spiral but seemed to be laughing it off as she left the ice.
Ashley Cain and Sergey Sidorev, who been fourth in the Short Program event, had the sixth-ranked free skate to finish in sixth overall.
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