2009 Skate America

Dance Event

by

Alexandra Stevenson

 
Standings
Place Couple Country CD OD FD
1 Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto USA 1 1 1
2 Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte ITA 3 2 3
3 Alexandra Zaretski & Roman Zaretski ISR 4 3 2
4 Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitski RUS 2 5 4
5 Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre USA 5 4 6
6 Madison Chock & Greg Zuerlein USA 7 8 5
7 Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov RUS 6 6 7
8 Caitlin Mallory & Kristian Rand EST 9 7 9
9 Zoe Blanc & Pierre-Loup Bouquet FRA 10 10 8
10 Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang CHN 8 9 10

Golden Waltz

 
Starting Order - Compulsory Dance

Warmup Group 1

1. Caitlin Mallory & Kristian Rand, EST
2. Zoe Blanc & Pierre-Loup Bouquet, FRA
3. Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang, CHN
4. Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre, USA
5. Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov, RUS

Warmup Group 2

6. Madison Chock & Greg Zuerlein, USA
7. Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, ITA
8. Alexandra Zaretski & Roman Zaretski, ISR
9. Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitski, RUS
10. Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto, USA

Est. Start Time: 15:00:00

Marks Detail (Marks only, no calculated scores.)

Compulsory Dance Placements
Place Couple Country
1 Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto USA
2 Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitski RUS
3 Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte ITA
4 Alexandra Zaretski & Roman Zaretski ISR
5 Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre USA
6 Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov RUS
7 Madison Chock & Greg Zuerlein USA
8 Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang CHN
9 Caitlin Mallory & Kristian Rand EST
10 Zoe Blanc & Pierre-Loup Bouquet FRA

Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto, 1. 39.28 (20.22 TES +19.06 TPC), showed significant improvement in this division. Compulsories have always been their weakest area, a situation which they have freely acknowledged. But it was obvious that considerable work has been put in to correct this deficit. They glided with immaculate, controlled precision covering the Herb Brooks arena with ease, and whirled off with the lead by evoking a more genteel era of balls and gallant squires. She was light on her feet, a vision of loveliness in swirling Tiffany blue, in a new dress with a complicated design, including details such a fluttering piece of material attached to her right hand. She explained, she wanted the dress to "look as elegant as possible, and very regal." She was also wearing her special earrings, presented to her by a fan. Agosto was incredibly debonair in black tails and a white bow tie.

Their ranking meant they skated last of the ten couples who are allowed in each Grand Prix. Back stage immediately after skating, Belbin said they were pleased with their performance. "It was hard to come back from China (where they had won that Grand Prix), deal with jet lag and still get down to practice with only a few days between events, but it was also good because it pushed us to make the most use of our time. We felt we skated this compulsory a little conservatively in Beijing. We were a little more refined and out-going here. We were pleased because we did get higher marks for the same compulsory."

Four of the top five ranked couples here also competed against each other in the Chinese Grand Prix, in which the five-time US champions and Olympic silver medalist beat the 2009 European champions, Russiaís Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitski, who were second, by 14 points overall. The Americans had been ahead by 2.03 after this compulsory in Beijing. This time they beat them by a slight increase of 2.34. That may sound microscopic, but for a compulsory, a very small spread can mean a difference of several placings.

They both agreed they were looking forward to nationals. Belbin said, "We were upset we had to miss our championships last year because that is the event where we get to see most of our US fans. Weíre looking forward to the competition. Who wants a competition where the result is determined before hand. You can get complacent if you know you are going to win. You need competition to make you train your hardest and aspire to do your very best."

The Golden Waltz is acknowledged as the most difficult compulsory, taking a record 1 minute 58 seconds to do the required two sequences, with 48 steps, some of which, like the shoot-the-duck, are unique to this compulsory. The dance was devised by Marina Klimova & Sergei Ponomarenko, Russians who won bronze, silver and gold in successive Olympic Games, 1984, í88 & í92, and their coach Natalia Dubova for their 1988 season. Dubova was in the audience today. She has lived in this area for many years. Klimova & Ponomarenko married and reside in California where they are coaching and raising their two children.

Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitski, 2. 36.94 (18.96 + 17.98), also said they had skated well, although camera close-ups on their feet showed their centrifugal force on the turns was pushing her weight forward on her blades towards the toes. "We were satisfied with our performance," the red-haired Khokhlova said, "both for the performance and for the marks." She wore a white and light blue dress which had a cut-out on one side, that, for some, interrupted the classic line. He had a theatrical white tuxedo which showed part of his hairy chest under a small bow tie. Novitsky said, "The choice of costumes was made by our designer, Zaitsev. He is very famous in Russia."

Anna Cappellini & Luca LaNotte of Italy, 3. 32.04 (15.90 + 16.14), changed coaches earlier this year and now train in Lyon with Muriel Boucher Zazoui. Cappellini, who wore a silver outfit with red in the frilly skirt, admitted, "I felt secure but I did a couple of mistakes. I didnít expect that. It was a shame. We need to correct that. We went to France to improve our skating skills and we think it is working. I felt pretty good in this morningís workout so I wasnít worried. But I just didnít feel balanced in the competition." They lie a distinct distance, 4.90 behind the Russians and only a smidgen 0.11 ahead of the Israelis.

Alexandra & Roman Zaretski 4. 31.93 (16.28 + 15.65) She wore a silver outfit with a hem with an explosion of black feathers that was straight out of a Ginger Rogersí movie. Itís the first time they had used it in a competition. As she came off the ice, she said, "The whole dance felt better than it did in China and the marks were more than a point more. We really felt it flowed."

Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre, US, 5. 30.19 (16.10 + 14.09) gave a pleasing presentation with her in a pretty pinky-lilac outfit and him in long tails and a white tie. They, and their coach, Robbie Kane, felt they had skated this exercise far better than they had in the Paris Grand Prix. Kane said, "I was really pleased with them. They gave an immaculate showing. I am very upset about the way the judges are using the GoEs. In Paris they didnít get one positive or feedback on the expression. This dance has a lot of position changes. It is all about the changing hand holds and expression and they are very good technically at doing this." Navarro said, "The footwork is like lightning. It is very complicated but that makes it very interesting. Maybe we had a little mistake with the free foot."

Madison Chock & Greg Zuerlein, US, 7. 28.88 (14.96 + 13.92) concluded with a surprise for both judges and audience alike. They ended the two sequences with her going into a graceful layback spin. The writer has not seen a compulsory concluded this way before but it certainly was in keeping with the character of a Waltz. Chock, who had the most delightful, out-going smile all through the dance, wore a sleeveless royal blue outfit with a tasteful amount of sparkles and he the standard tuxedo. He said they were really excited to be competing with these top couples. It is their first season as seniors. She was wearing a bandage on her left wrist, the result of a bad fall in China in the warm-up for the free dance. Their score in Lake Placid was a Personal Best for this section.

Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang, China, 8. 27.43 (14.96 + 12.47) were the substitutes for the 2008 world champions, Isabelle Delobel & Oliver Schoenfelder, who withdrew only a short time before the event. Delobel had a son on October 1 and is still hoping to get back to form. They wore all white, including his boot covers, a decision that was made by their coach. "We need more practice," admitted Wang, who said they had performed the Golden Waltz before in one of the seven Four Continents championships in which they have competed. "You must have stamina for this dance. Our first sequence was good but not the second one."

Caitlin Mallory & Kristjan Rand, Estonia, 9. 26.89 (14.46 + 12.43) won the right for Estonia to enter a couple to the Olympics in February but they still arenít sure whether they will be able to go. It is taking time for her passport to come through. The American Mallory said, "I think I have right up until the actual competition to have it approved. At the moment, we just donít know."

Zoe Blanc & Pierre-Loup Bouquet, France, 10. 24.39 (12.78 + 11.61) were the substitutes for Kristin Fraser and Igor Lukanin who represented Azerbaijan for many years but they had known they were coming to this event since the summer. She wore a lovely pink and purple outfit with black gloves. His tuxedo was a modern design with stitching. "I thought we did a very, very good job," said Bouquet, "but perhaps we were a little bit conservative."

Original Dance

 
Starting Order - Original Dance

Warmup Group 1

1. Zoe Blanc & Pierre-Loup Bouquet, FRA
2. Caitlin Mallory & Kristian Rand, EST
3. Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang, CHN
4. Madison Chock & Greg Zuerlein, USA
5. Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov, RUS

Warmup Group 2

6. Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre, USA
7. Alexandra Zaretski & Roman Zaretski, ISR
8. Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, ITA
9. Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitski, RUS
10. Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto, USA

Est. Start Time: 14:00:00

Trick List

Original Dance Placements
Place Couple Country
1 Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto USA
2 Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte ITA
3 Alexandra Zaretski & Roman Zaretski ISR
4 Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre USA
5 Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitski RUS
6 Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov RUS
7 Caitlin Mallory & Kristian Rand EST
8 Madison Chock & Greg Zuerlein USA
9 Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang CHN
10 Zoe Blanc & Pierre-Loup Bouquet FRA





Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto, 1. (after 2 of the 3 sections) 100.23; 1. OD 60.95 (29.90 TES + 31.05 TPC), gave an impressive showing to a Moldavian Folk Dance, an entirely unexpected choice. "We had to fight for this music," Belbin said. "Our (co-)coach, Natalia Linichuk, wanted us to do a similar piece to the country piece we did before. And when we said we wanted to do a Russian dance, she said the music weíd found wasnít Russian or Ukrainian. It was Moldavian (an area between Romania and Ukraine). She made us understand that the dance is quite distinct from those of the other two countries. (Linichuk and husband, Gennadi Karponosov, won their Olympic gold here in this arena in Lake Placid in a controversial decision in the same arena where Skate America is taking place.)

"We are very pleased the ISU brought back this theme because the choice of music is much wider. I really enjoyed doing Latin dances in the past but you knew a lot of the couples would pick the same tango." Agosto said, "With this theme, we had music from the whole world to choose from." The ISU brought back this Folk or Country Theme after only two seasons because they believed it would be suitable for the wider audience which views the Olympic Games but may not be familiar with ice dancing. The ISU suggested that ice dancers choose music from their own countryís past hoping that would appeal to a broader spectrum of the skatersí home population. But that is not mandatory. Many couples, for instant Scotlandís Sinead and John Kerr, who are performing to Johnny Cashís well-known Iíve Been Everywhere, Man, said they had taken their highly popular Highland Fling as far as they could, and wanted to do something different.

There are arguments that it is "fairer" that there should be a draw for skating order as there was in the past instead of the present procedure of competitors performing in order in which they finished in the previous section. But from a spectator point of view, it is great that the event builds up to a fitting climax. Belbin & Agosto provided that and more. Dressed in white peasant outfits with red covering her boots and black shiny material his, they seemed to fly over the ice presenting a picture of seeming perfection. Their faces reflected joy in their performance, making everything appear smooth and executed without visible effort. They earned Level 4 (the highest possible) from the Technical Specialist Shae Zukiwsky and his assistant, Andrzej Dostatni, for their first required element, a soaring, amazing straight line lift which was also given +2 (on a scale which goes from -3 up to a maximum of +3) Grade of Execution from eight of the nine judges. The remaining judge punched in a +1. This reflects a proportional score which is added to the base level value of the move.

Though their perfectly synchronized sequential twizzles also earned Level 4, only two judges were moved to award +2. Three others gave +1; two judges presented 0, which means satisfactory in all aspects with the skaters earning the full base value; while two saw some slight flaw, and punched in only minus 1, meaning an amount is taken off the base value. Their non-touching mid-line steps were also awarded Level 4, again with eight of the nine judges awarding +2 and one dissenter +1. The graceful duo earned Level 3 for their circular steps but the specification make it almost impossible to earn Level 4 for this required element and they had to be content with Level 3. All members of the judging panel punched in +1, which is for a superior showing. (Last season, there were five elements but the spin was dropped from the required elements for the original.) Belbin said, "We are also allowed to do an optional non-scoring transitional lift which helps the component marks. When we first thought of doing this, our coach Gennadi (Karponosov) said he wasnít sure we would have the strength to do it right at the end, and he was right, initially. But we worked very hard on it and it is a nice finish, especially for the audience."

Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitski, 2. 86.47; 5. 49.53 (21.90 + 27.63), have incredible speed and she has extreme flexibility but that makes them appear at times as if they are circus performers not dancers. And, in their chase after high marks, they shot themselves in the foot. They received the lowest technical score of all 10 couples and were only in fifth place in this section. Although they are still in second place, they lie only a fraction, 0.34 ahead of the Italians.

They were dressed in very theatrical outfits with her in all in purple, including tights decorated with flowers which extended over her boots and to a matching cloth tiara headdress. His blouse matched her dress which had a large though short flouncy skirt.

Their routine is called "Russian Soul" and is set to the music Vdol po Piterskol. Had Westerners presented this showing they surely would have been criticized for cheapening another countryís folk dance but since they are Russian they have the freedom to explore a different presentation. She admitted she made a mistake on the twizzles, putting a foot down but she said she was at a loss to understand why they also got Level 1 for their circular steps in which they lost unison.

Anna Cappellini & Luca LaNotte of Italy, 3. 86.13; 2. 54.09 (27.80 + 26.29), performed to Return to Sorento and a Rossini Tarantella. He had planned to wear a mask. She explained, "A mask is very genuine for an Italian Carnival where everyoneís identity is hidden. Obviously, heís in love and itís in the spirit of the music that he would have a mask and then take it off when he doesnít need to hide anymore. But, apparently, the rules say itís allowed only if it is attached to the costume so that it doesnít come off. We didnít want to risk a deduction." They have only recently moved to coach, Muriel Boucher Zazoui. LaNotte said, "Itís very different training in Lyon because there are many ice dancers of a high standard there and it helps push us each day. Even though we are competing against some of them, there is a feeling of camaraderie and we push each other." They earned Level 4 for their twizzles and straight line lift, Level 3 for their Non-touching Midline steps and Level 2 for their circular steps which opened their routine.

Alexandra & Roman Zaretski 4. 83.83; 3. 51.90 (27.00 + 24.90), performed to the famous Hebrew folk song of Celebration, Hava Nagila, which means Let Us Rejoice. So it seemed a little strange that they performed in black. "But these are very genuine costumes," Roman said. They are trained by Galit Chait, former Israeli champion and 1998 world bronze medalist, who now lives in New Jersey and is about to give birth.

They received two Level 4s and two Level 3s.

Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre, US, 5. 81.47; 4. 51.28 (27.80 + 23.48), skate to the music Quero Voltar Pra Angola and present a combined Brazilian and African Shay dance. They have developed and improved the routine they used for this section in the í07 season. Their coach, Robbie Kaine, said, "Theyíve even taken drum lessons to understand the background."

Some think the costume design is a little over the top, with him wearing a leather wig. But they have taken immense pains to make the outfits authentic. They were based on designs from Brazil and Angola. He is the King of Angola Janga and she is a brave Brazilian slave. He has on a breastplate which seems a little small for a warrior. Fish scales are used on her outfit.

Their skating earned two Level 4s and two Level 3s and all their GoEs were positive, including three +2s for their rotational lift. They lie a substantial 5.51 marks ahead of the Russians and only 2.36 behind the Israelis.

Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov, Russia, 6. 75.96; 6. 46.64 (24.50 + 22.14), performed a "Russian Waltz" choreographed in Moscow by Elena Tchaikovskaya. They wear very elaborate white based matching outfits including fur-coated coats, obviously made for a cold country and she wore a hat. Their boots were covered with purple material with curves on top of the toes. "This is very genuine," said Tchaikovskaya. "This design is very old and the outfits are beautifully made with real sable." They received two Level 4s, a 3 and a 2 for their circular steps.

Madison Chock & Greg Zuerlein, US, 7. 73.43; 8. 44.55 (22.90 + 21.65), executed an Afro-Cuban dance to Yema Ya and Agua Nile. She wore an elaborate sparkling two-piece. He was in white with a loose white, long-sleeved shirt over cream trousers "tropical" attire. They performed some very sexy movements including her body waves. Even their closing pose was steamy, with his hand resting suggestively on her thigh. "Itís an expressive dance," said Chock. "Many movements in dance are made to attract the opposite sex. Guerlein said, "We tried to have as much fun with it as we can." However, they earned only Level 2 for both their non-touching midline and circular steps. Their lift was Level 4 and their twizzles Level 3.

Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang, China, 8. 71.58; 9. 44.15 (23.80 + 20.35) performed a folk-like Chinese dance to music from the 2004 Chinese action/romance movie House of Flying Daggers. The Chinese donít really have folk dances which couples perform. However Yu and Wang did a good job of using this music. They have seen the movie and adapted the ending so she is stabbed and dies. Although they received Level 4 for their curve lift and a 3 for their twizzles, the other two moves were Level 2. He had an elegant white top with a Chinese pattern which matched her dress. They were ninth ranked in this portion but did not drop.

Caitlin Mallory & Kristjan Rand, Estonia, 9. 71.47; 7. 44.58 (24.40 + 20.18) gave a very genuine presentation of an Estonian folkdance. The red-haired Mallory wore a garland in her hair. "My costume is really very authentic," said Rand. "The dance comes from the south of our country which is not very big. You can drive across it in about four hours." She explained, "My dress isnít quite as authentic as it was initially because, after competing in the Nebelhorn Trophy, we had to adapt it slightly for skating purposes." They received two Level 4s, a 3 and a 2, and got marks which gave them 7th place in this section but it wasnít enough to advance them a place.

Zoe Blanc & Pierre-Loup Bouquet, France, 10. 67.05; 10. 42.66 (23.10 + 19.56), began their medieval Breton dance set to La Jument de Michao, which translates as Michaelís mare (a female horse), played by Tri Yann, with Level 4 sequential twizzles. "We got only Level 2 for our straight line lift," Blanc explained. "We usually get Level 4, so the marks were less than we got in Paris at the Grand Prix. However, we were pleased with the Level 3 for the circular steps. Nobody seems to get Level 4 for them." They are trained by Karine Arribert Narce and martial Jaffredo in Villard de Lans. He was in brown with mustard belt and she had on a pleasant light green outfit with a brown lace-up girdle and brown bands at the top of her sleeves.

  

Free Dance

 
Starting Order - Free Dance
Warmup Group 1
1. Zoe Blanc & Pierre-Loup Bouquet, FRA
2. Caitlin Mallory & Kristian Rand, EST
3. Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang, CHN
4. Madison Chock & Greg Zuerlein, USA
5. Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov, RUS
Warmup Group 2

6. Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre, USA
7. Alexandra Zaretski & Roman Zaretski, ISR
8. Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, ITA
9. Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitski, RUS
10. Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto, USA

Estimated Start Time: 16:30:00

Trick List

Free Dance Placements
Place Couple Country
1 Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto USA
2 Alexandra Zaretski & Roman Zaretski ISR
3 Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte ITA
4 Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitski RUS
5 Madison Chock & Greg Zuerlein USA
6 Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre USA
7 Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov RUS
8 Zoe Blanc & Pierre-Loup Bouquet FRA
9 Caitlin Mallory & Kristian Rand EST
10 Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang CHN





Even with the new system, there are very few major upsets in ice dance. Barring a flat-on-your-face fall and interruption to the routine, most competitions go pretty much as predicted. So it came as a shock to many followers of this graceful sport to witness the current European champions, Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitsky, bronze medalists in the 2008 world championships, finish off the podium behind couples who were only 10th (the French) and 13th (the Israelis) in the last world championship. True, there was a hint that change was in the air, when the Russians were placed only 5th in the Original, but they were still lying second going into the free. At that point, Khokhlova had looked pretty shattered. She admitted then that she had put her foot down on the twizzles in the Original but she denied she had made any other mistake. After the free, she appeared to be in complete shock and barely able to hold back tears.

Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto, 1. Overall 195.85; 1. Free Dance 95.62 (46.90 + 48.72). This was almost the same score as they earned in their other Grand Prix event, in China at the end of October. In Beijing, they were awarded 194.51, 1.34 points less overall than in Lake Placid, but their Free Dance in China was 95.85, just 0.23 more than in China. Usually competitors receive more marks skating at home, buoyed up by the support from local fans. In Lake Placid, they received a resounding standing ovation. But Belbinís face, when the marks were announced, was subdued.

This is their fifth gold in Skate America. They won 2003-2007. Last year they were pushed down to 2nd by the then world champions, Isabelle Delobel & Olivier Schoenfelder, who withdrew from this event because they hadnít had enough practice since she gave birth to a boy on October 1. Belbin looked absolutely beautiful in white with a just-below-the-knee length handkerchief skirt. He had on a long sleeved, deep purple top over black trousers. They use an interesting version of Ave Maria with Gioacchino Rossiniís climax-building Amen (Stabat Mater).

They received five Level 4s which were for their twizzles, the three lifts and the spin. Their circular steps, for which six of the nine judges deemed worthy of +1 while two others punched in +2 and one 0, were Level 3 as were their diagonal steps, which gained +1 from all the judges with the exception of one who gave 0. They received unanimous +2s for their serpentine and rotational lifts and their twizzles were given four 0ís, four +1s and a -1. Their component score peaked with two 9.0s and hit bottom with a solitary 7.0.

Dancers are now allowed two optional "transitional" lifts for which they receive no marks. Last season it was only one. Belbin explained, "Itís to please the spectators and make for a little more variety. It lets you present something different and original which you could not otherwise do because it wouldnít get a high enough level. They donít get a mark but are reflected in the component scores."

This is the best set of programs weíve ever had," said Agosto, perhaps a little defensively. "We just need to get down and put everything together. This has been a very exciting competition. It was a lot of fun to skate here in Lake Placid, so historic. Once again, we felt like we were able to execute all three segments of the competition really well. Today was a little bit hard. I think we put a lot of energy into yesterday and so it wasnít our best skate today, but we felt really good about most of our elements. Obviously we want to have even higher scores, but that just gives us something to work on. But we have a long way to go until the end of the season and we have a lot of room to grow" Belbin added, "We certainly didnít skate our absolute best. There is certainly room for improvement before the Grand Prix Final and US Nationals."

Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, 2. 171.86; 3. 85.73 (43.60 + 42.13). Second and third places were separated by an incredibly small margin - only 0.09. Cappellini dressed in black, and Lanotte wore a white shirt with a tear at the shoulder and in the back. Right from the start of their Requiem for a Dream music, when she beckons him with a very come-hither, sexy look, it is obvious that she is a very dangerous woman. Lanotte explained, "The routine is called Addiction and she is my addiction. Iíve been out all night savoring the forbidden pleasures and thatís why I look so scruffy." Cappellini said, "The routine felt solid. We were able to put a lot of energy into our performance."

They earned Level 4s for their spin, the straight line steps, their twizzles, the rotational lift and part of their long lift. However, the first part of their long lift, a straight line, was got Level 2 as did their diagonal steps. Cappellini said, "We thought the 2 on the lift was odd, because we were expecting a Level 4. Fortunately, it didnít affect getting the silver, but it was close." They also won silver in Moscow, in their other Grand Prix event this season. She added, "We were not expecting this. Weíve worked hard this year and this is the reward for our work. Their top component mark was one 8.0 and their low was four 6.25s.

Alexandra & Roman Zaretski, 3. 171.77; 2. 87.94 (45.80 + 42.14), performed to Schindlerís List gaining Level 4s for everything except the circular and diagonal steps which were awarded Level 3s. The difference between their component marks and those of Cappellini & Lanotte was only 0.01! They were thrilled with their medal which is their first one in the Grand Prix. He said, "I am so happy, I have no words. We are still shocked. It was a big surprise." Their top component scores were five 7.50s and their low was two 6.25s.

Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitsky, 4. 168.25; 4. 81.78 (37.70 + 44.08). Khohklova was devastated that they finished off the rostrum. She could barely hold back the tears. "I donít know why. It is an unexpected result. We will watch the video with our coach." Novitsky took their surprise official rejection more philosophically. A perusal of the details sheet, now available after each competition, gives the explanation. They received only one Level 4, which was for the second part of their long lift, a rotational variation. The first part, a straight line, was Level 2, which they also got for their curve and straight line short lifts, and their circular steps. They received Level 3 for their twizzles and spin. The Technical Elements score, 37.70, was only ninth best in the ten-couple field, while their components, 44.98, were second only to Belbin & Agosto. The judges are responsible for marking the components. The Technical Specialist, Shae Zukiwsky, and his very experienced assistant, Andrzej Dostatni, who officiated at the last Olympic Games, were responsible for deciding the Levels. They were overseen by the Technical Controller, Linda Leaver. The Special and Assistant must agree on the call. If they donít, the Controller steps in. Two members of this trio must agree on a call. The Specialists can not be questioned and the referee, Christi Heidler, has not made a statement on the situation. Khokhlova & Novitsky, who skated to Meadowlands, wore bright red costumes. Hers was long sleeved with a skirt that was double layered at the back. She also wore a cloth tiara. He had ballooning trousers which some found distracting. Their top component mark was one 8.25 and their low was one 6.0.

Kimberley Navarro & Brent Bommentre, 5. 160.89; 6. 79.42 (42.10 + 37.32), skated in dramatic black and white performing to One by the Irish rock band U2, who re-recorded the song as part of a duet with R&B singer Mary J. Blige. All but two of their elements were Level 4. However, the sequential twizzles were only Level 2 and their diagonal steps a disappointing Level 1. Even so, Bommentre said, "This was much better than it was in Paris, at the first Grand Prix (where they finished sixth). There, we missed three of our elements. We didnít get the levels we had hoped for and we got a point off for not finishing a lift within the time allowed. So we are very, very happy here." Their coach, Robbie Kaine, said, "They skated here with a lot of energy and related to each other so well, which is most important. And now weíre going to build on that." They received very high component marks from one judge of one 8.25, two 8.0s and two 7.50s. The next highest award was three 6.75 from two different officials. Their lowest marks were four 5.75 for linking steps.

Madison Chock & Greg Zuerlein, 6. 153.92; 5. 80.49 (44.70 + 35.79), who were youngest competitors Ė she is 17 and he just turned 21 on October 26, showed great promise interpreting an Andrei Rieu arrangement of music from Life is Beautiful. They displayed a lot of emotion, beating their teammates, Navarro & Bommentre by 1.07 in the Free Dance, although, overall, they were almost 7 points apart. They received Level 4s for all their elements except for the two sets of steps, circular and diagonal, and one of the short lifts, a curve.

Their coach, Igor Shpilband, said he was pleased. "This was their best free dance this year so far. We had Level 2 for the circular steps in the OD yesterday. This element got Level 3 today. They learn from every competition." Asked what they had to do to progress, Zuerlein said, "We have to get more power and strength in our elements." Chock said, "We have to connect even more with the audience and with each other. It wasnít difficult to come up to seniors, it was enjoyable. We have two months until nationals, Weíre going back to Canton and work hard." Their component marks ranged from a low of two 5.0s up to a high of one 6.50.

Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov, 7. 152.43; 7. 76.47 (41. 60 + 34.87), used the music Phantom on Ice arranged by Robert Danova. Both parts of their long lift and the curve lift were Level 4 as were the twizzles and the spin but the straight line lift and Serpentine steps were Level 3. The diagonal steps were Level 2. The component marks ranged from four 5.25s up to one 6.75.

Caitlin Mallory & Kristjan Rand, 8. 143.50; 9. 72.03 (39.60 + (33.43) had a very pleasing interpretation using music from the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg. But she tripped while going backwards on the twizzles, which meant that element received only the basic Level 1 and they got a point deduction for the fall. Their GoEs for all but the twizzles were at least base value. They gained four Level 4s. The circular steps were Level 3 and the diagonal steps Level 2. Their components included a high of one 6.25 and ten 6.0s and a low of two 5.0s.

Zoe Blanc & Pierre-Loup Bouquet, 9. 140.71; 8. 73.66 (41.90 + 31.76), skated to Marine Machine by Amon Tobin and Ramalama Bang Bang by Roisin Murphy. All but two of their required elements earned Level 4. The circular steps were Level 3 and the diagonal steps Level 2. All their component marks were in the 5s except for one high of 6.0 and four marks in the 4s, a 4.00, a 4.25 and two 4.75s.

Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang, 10. 135.62; 10. 64.04 (35.10 + 29.94) skated to music from Cats, the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which was fun but not very difficult. Their mid-line steps were only Level 1 and the circular steps Level 2. The first part of their long lift, a curve, got Level 2 although the other half, which was rotational, earned Level 4. Their other two lifts earned Level 4 but one was not completed in the time limit and they were saddled with a point deduction. Their twizzles and spin were Level 3. Their choreography was done by Natalia Linichuk but they train in Beijing and Harbin and, since they may not have been brought up knowing this music, maybe some of the details of her steps were forgotten when they returned home. Most of their component marks were in the 5s. The low was a 4.25 and they had one award in the 6s, a 6.50.

 

2009 Skate America Dance Medalists

 

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