2009 U.S. Nationals

Senior Dance

by M. Cora Dew



Place Couple C1 OD FD
1 Meryl Davis & Charlie White 1  1 1
2 Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates 2  2 2
3 Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre 3  6 3
4 Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell 4  4 4
5 Morgan Mathews & Leif Gislason 6  3 5
6 Jane Summersett & Todd Gilles 5  5 6

Trina Pratt & Chris Obzansky

7  7 7
8 Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt 9  8 8
9 Charlotte Maxwell & Nick Traxler 11  10 9
10 Clare Farrell & Charles Fishpaw 12  11 10
11 Jessica Perino & William Avila 10  13 11
12 Lauren Corry & Alexander Lorello 14  12 12
13 Kellene Ratko & Jonathan Harris 13  15 13
14 Emma Cyders & Levgenii Kraniak 15  14 14
w Jenifer Wester & Daniil Baranstev 8  9 w

Photos copyright 2009 by George S. Rossano


Compulsory Dance

Viennese Waltz

Starting Order - Compulsory Dance
  1. Trina Pratt & Chris Obzansky

  2. Emma Cyders & Levgenii Kraniak

  3. Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre

  4. Jane Summersett & Todd Gilles

  5. Jenifer Wester & Daniil Baranstev

  6. Morgan Mathews & Leif Gislason

  7. Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt

  8. Lauren Corry & Alexander Lorello

  9. Meryl Davis & Charlie White

  10. Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates

  11. Kellene Ratko & Jonathan Harris

  12. Charlotte Maxwell & Nick Traxler

  13. Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell

  14. Clare Farrell & Charles Fishpaw

  15. Jessica Perino & William Avila


Compulsory Dance Placements
Place Couple
1 Meryl Davis & Charlie White
2 Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates
3 Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre
4 Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell
5 Jane Summersett & Todd Gilles
6 Morgan Mathews & Leif Gislason

Trina Pratt & Chris Obzansky

8 Jenifer Wester & Daniil Baranstev
9 Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt
10 Jessica Perino & William Avila
11 Charlotte Maxwell & Nick Traxler
12 Clare Farrell & Charles Fishpaw
13 Kellene Ratko & Jonathan Harris
14 Lauren Corry & Alexander Lorello
15 Emma Cyders & Levgenii Kraniak

While watching skating at the International level, you find, for the most part, that there is little discrepancy between the teams in the Compulsory Dance phase. Perhaps that is why there is some thought eliminating the compulsory dances. But at the national level, there are four distinct groups: 1) the what was that? group;  2) the oops I fell asleep while you skated group;  3) the hey, isnít that a compulsory dance group; and finally 4) the so THATíS what it is supposed to look like group.

We skip here immediately to group 3.

Making their national debut as a team, Diva Morgan Matthews & Leif Gislason skated 6th and ended up in 6th place. This was a lovely dance for them and showed off their beautiful extensions. Their frame was a little too boxy and therefore had them skating a little too far apart, and in the first pattern their leg swings were a little off. Morganís strength has always been the less confined segments of OD and Free Dance, so look for them to move up later.

Placing 5th and skating in the first warmup was Jane Summersett & Todd Gilles. Despite wearing a dress that looks like a grandmothers shawl, they had a nicely skated compulsory with plenty of speed and nice edges.

Maison & Keiffer Hubbell landed in 4th place after a well executed waltz. This is their first competition as a senior team and they look right at home in the mix.

3rd place went to the competent team of Kim Navarro & Brent Bommentre. These two always put out nice compulsory dances and can be relied upon to be in the top 3 at the beginning of almost any competition. Their compulsory marks tend to hold them up through the later part of the competition where they are not as strong.

Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates skated in to 2nd place in this their second season as a senior team. They are so well rehearsed that they never miss a mark. Everything is laid out, trained and ingrained so no surprise that they are over a point above Navarro & Bommentre.

Leading the pack by over 3 points and no surprise here, is the team of Meryl Davis & Charlie White. So many years together, so many hours training, so completely perfect. This dance was lush!


Original Dance

20's, 30's and 40's

Starting Order - Original Dance
  1. Charlotte Maxwell & Nick Traxler

  2. Clare Farrell & Charles Fishpaw

  3. Lauren Corry & Alexander Lorello

  4. Kellene Ratko & Jonathan Harris

  5. Emma Cyders & Levgenii Kraniak

  6. Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell

  7. Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt

  8. Jessica Perino & William Avila

  9. Jenifer Wester & Daniil Baranstev

  10. Meryl Davis & Charlie White

  11. Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates

  12. Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre

  13. Trina Pratt & Chris Obzansky

  14. Morgan Mathews & Leif Gislason

  15. Jane Summersett & Todd Gilles



Original Dance Placements
Place Couple
1 Meryl Davis & Charlie White
2 Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates
3 Morgan Mathews & Leif Gislason
4 Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell
5 Jane Summersett & Todd Gilles
6 Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre

Trina Pratt & Chris Obzansky

8 Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt
9 Jenifer Wester & Daniil Baranstev
10 Charlotte Maxwell & Nick Traxler
11 Clare Farrell & Charles Fishpaw
12 Lauren Corry & Alexander Lorello
13 Jessica Perino & William Avila
14 Emma Cyders & Levgenii Kraniak
15 Kellene Ratko & Jonathan Harris



We begin with an honorable mention for originality to Emma Cyders & Levgenii Krasniak. Their OD was completely new and different from the costuming (20ís bathing garb) to the choreography. It was really cute -- unfortunately their skating was not quite as charming.

Now to the top 6.

Finishing 6th in the OD but maintaining a slim hold on third place was Navarro & Bommentre. These two are popular because they are so engaging. They have a great rapport with each other and the audience. Everyone is happy to go along with them in whatever they do. It looks like they have been working on their speed, which was much improved, but it seems that it was at the expense of more complicated edgework. Their footwork sequence was not especially difficult and therefore their energy and exuberance was not able to overcome lack of content.

Finishing 5th in the OD and staying in fifth overall was Summersett & Gilles. I like to watch these two because they always do something interesting. Their programs are full of content and they are capable skaters. With increased speed and confidence in the coming years, they should become a force to be reckoned with.

The Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell finished 4th in the OD and stayed in fourth over all after this sultry dance. Skating to "Minnie the Moocher," they skated with strong edges and confidence. They relate really well to each other and always seem to know where their partner is on the ice. This team does not have sloppy transitions. They skated with a smooth, sassy style that fit their personalities. You just canít get enough of these two.

Finishing in 3rd place in the OD but maintaining their overall sixth place ranking was Matthews & Gislason. Their choreography was outstanding. It highlighted their long beautiful lines and extensions. They flew around the ice, their feet were clean and neat during their difficult footwork. Nevertheless, their music is not particularly indicative of the 20ís, 30ís and 40ís, and other than the fake bead necklace on Morganís dress, their costuming was also not from that era. Looks like kind of like they made up their own thing and didnít give a hoot about the requirements.

Channeling Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in "Anchors Aweigh," Samuelson & Bates, she in a red halter dress and he in a sailor suit skated wonderfully to "Let yourself go." Their speed, good transitions and great expression got the crowd going. They showed poise by not allowing a music mishap at the beginning of their program rattle them. They fell back on their training and delivered the program they had developed. Samuelson always has beautiful extensions and a pointed turned out toe that elevates even the simplest movement to a lyrical expression. They easily maintained second place.

With their "Happy Feet," routine, Davis & White handily put the lead far out of reach from the other competitors. With a fast, lively and clean program, everyone in the building sat back and went along on a joyous ride that seemed to end all too quickly. They have the fastest twizzles in the world and there are not enough superlatives to talk about the rest of their skating.  Belbin and Agosto who??


Free Dance

Starting Order - Free Dance
  1. Lauren Corry & Alexander Lorello

  2. Jessica Perino & William Avila

  3. Emma Cyders & Levgenii Kraniak

  4. Clare Farrell & Charles Fishpaw

  5. Kellene Ratko & Jonathan Harris

  1. Charlotte Maxwell & Nick Traxler

  2. Trina Pratt & Chris Obzansky

  3. Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt

  4. Morgan Mathews & Leif Gislason

  5. Jenifer Wester & Daniil Baranstev

  6. Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre

  7. Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell

  8. Meryl Davis & Charlie White

  9. Jane Summersett & Todd Gilles

  10. Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates


Free Dance Placements
Place Couple
1 Meryl Davis & Charlie White
2 Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates
3 Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre
4 Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell
5 Morgan Mathews & Leif Gislason
6 Jane Summersett & Todd Gilles

Trina Pratt & Chris Obzansky

8 Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt
9 Charlotte Maxwell & Nick Traxler
10 Clare Farrell & Charles Fishpaw
11 Jessica Perino & William Avila
12 Lauren Corry & Alexander Lorello
13 Kellene Ratko & Jonathan Harris
14 Emma Cyders & Levgenii Kraniak
w Jenifer Wester & Daniil Baranstev



Meryl Davis & Charlie White gave an electric performance of their Samson and Delilah program. They came out and skated with fire and passion and did not rest on their point lead going in to the Free Dance. They wanted to make sure they stayed in the lead and that it was obvious to everyone that they deserved to be the National Champions.  Every mark was hit by Davis & White, every extension was emphasized and their clean pure skating was highlighted.  There GoEs were all ones and twos, with a few threes, and their program components were mostly in the eights with some judges going to 8.75.  Theirs were the highest component marks of any performance for all of the 2009 Nationals (all events, all divisions).  Belbin & Agosto were not missed.

Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates did what they always do since they were Intermediate level skaters. They delivered a well rehearsed, exacting, clean program. They made but one error, in their combinations spin, which was marked mainly at -1 and -2.  They skated all out, with component marks in the mid sevens..

Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre rode the wave of their excellent compulsory dance all the way to the free skate. It was not especially good. I am not sure how they beat the Hubbellís, but they did. Navarro & Bommentre have obviously worked on their speed, and delivered a program that was audience driven.  The top four couples all had base values near 40 points, with a spread of only 1.3 points among them in base value.  The difference in TES among these couples turned primarily on quality of execution.

Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell were very good. They also had a well trained program with lots of difficulty. Their speed, transitions and overall content should have put them in third in both the OD and Free Dance segments. Like Davis & White, they have an acute partner awareness that pays off in the overall flow and delivery of a program. Madison Hubell is completely comfortable on a big stage and enjoys the interaction with the audience. Both she and her brother are true performers.

Morgan Mathews & Leif Gislason put together another solid performance in the Free Dance. Mathews must be thrilled to have skated three programs where she was neither, tripped, dropped or dumped by her partner. The fifth place finish must have been a disappointment.

You would have thought the three witches from Macbeth had turned up at Cleveland Nationals. After the Free Dance, double, double, toil and trouble came to mind.  In Macbeth, the Three Witches represent darkness, chaos, and conflict, not unlike the role of the USFS in some skaterís lives. The witches presence also communicates treason and impending doom, also like the USFS. 

Morgan Matthews and partner finally agreed to skate for the U.S. this season rather than pursue citizenship from an eastern block county.  Despite how deep the Americans are becoming in dance, Matthews & Gislason must have decide that they could end up 3rd or better and throw their collective hats into the U.S. dance ring.

Big mistake.

Though they were thrown a bone in the OD,  USFS would be better off sending out two young teams like Samuelson & Bates and the Hubbells for international experience. Samuelson & Bates as well as the Hubbells have the potential to grow up internationally and the dividends will probably pay off better over the long run with them than a short term fix with Matthews & Gislasson.  Chances of  Matthews & Gislasson making the podium next year seem slim.

In order to earn three spots for the Olympic dance event, two of the three couples the U.S. sends to Worlds this year will have to earn a combined placement of 13 points.  If Belbin & Agosto are healthy at Worlds, then the pressure will be on Davis & White to place in the top 10, which seems a fairly safe bet given past results.  If Belbin & Agosto cannot make Worlds, however, then making 13 points will be difficult, but not impossible -- say Davis & White in the top five or six, and Samuelson & Bates eighth or seventh.  And obviously, the higher Davis & White place, the less pressure on Samuelson & Bates.  Navarro & Bommentre, on the other hand, are probably not part of this calculation, since a top 10 finish on their part is highly unlikely.

The bottom line is, the second place couple here really needed to be a couple that has at least a chance to place above tenth at Worlds, and by putting Samuelson & Bates in that place, it filled the bill.

What would have been better, however, was for Melissa Gregory & Denis Petukov to have skated one more year. Gregory & Petukov have been placing in the top ten at Worlds these past few years and their solid performances have guaranteed us three spots at Worlds the last two years.

When selected to the World Team, there was no mention whether Belbin & Agosto will have to do a demonstration skate to prove they are fit to compete at Worlds and do well.  If earning three entries for the Olympics is a priority (and it should be), then the U.S. needs to send two teams this year that will score those 13 points -- and who cares, then, about the third team.  If Belbin & Agosto are not healthy, and other couples are more likely to earn those 13 points than a World Team with Belbin & Agosto, perhaps they should stay home this year, if the situation comes to that.


2009 Senior Dance Medallists

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