2011 Skate America

Dance Event


Alexandra Stevenson

Place Couple Country SD FD
1 Meryl Davis & Charlie White USA 1 1
2 Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat FRA 2 2
3 Isabella Tobias & Deividas Stagniunas LTU 5 4
4 Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi GER 3 6
5 Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill CAN 4 5
6 Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donoh USA 6 3
7 Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello USA 7 8
8 Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam CAN 8 7

Short Dance

Planned Program Content


Starting Order - Short Dance

Warmup Group 1

  1. Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, USA
  2. Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello, USA
  3. Isabella Tobias & Deividas Stagniunas, LTU
  4. Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam, CAN

Warmup Group 2

  1. Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill, CAN
  2. Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi, GER
  3. Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat, FRA
  4. Meryl Davis & Charlie White, USA

Start Time: 20:45


Short Dance Placements
Place Couple Country
1 Meryl Davis & Charlie White USA
2 Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat FRA
3 Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi GER
4 Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill CAN
5 Isabella Tobias & Deividas Stagniunas LTU
6 Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donoh USA
7 Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello USA
8 Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam CAN

Dancers Swivel Hips to Sparse Crowd

1. Meryl Davis and Charlie White, 70.33 (34.14+36.19) There is no draw for Grand Prix events. Competitors skate in reverse order to their world ranking, so the first Americans to win an ice dance world title in the eventís entire 59 year history, were the last to perform, giving a great performance opening with a Samba to Batucadas, by Mitoka. That was followed with a Rhumba to Life is a Carnival. Their final two elements, the non-touching circular steps and their spectacular the curve lift, were executed to a second Samba, On the Floor sung by Jennifer Lopez.

Davis, who was born on New Yearís Day 1987, said the last section is the most exciting piece of music and she feels sure anyone who hears it, will feel like getting up and dancing alongside them. Dressed in an orange creation, she was definitely undulating her body in a more mature, outgoing, definitely adult but fun way. White, who turns 24 the day after Skate America, is in a light black, sophisticated outfit, which promoted his muscular body. He said he was sending out his "characterís properties". And what are they? "Iím showing her Iíve got all the moves," he said afterwards.

In their opening twizzles, they had a slight schronization delay but earned 6.64 points. They got the maximum Level 4 but received their lowest GoEs, which comprised two zeros, three +1s and the rest +2s. The nine judges included American Shawn Rettstatt, Canadian Elizabeth Clark, David Molina of France and Kerstin Kimminus of Germany, along with representatives from Hungary, Russia, the Czech Republic, China and Georgia. Alia Shekhovtseva was the Technical Controller and former US champion Judy Blumberg the Technical Specialist with Maria Tumanovskaya her assistant.

Their only other Level 4 was their concluding curve lift which begins with her placing her blade carefully on the top of his leg while he's in a cantilever position. For this they received three of the maximum +3 GoEs, four +2s and two +1s. Both rhumba sequences got Level 3s. The initial one called the "2" sequence because it's done on the opposite side of the rink to the judges, and the "1" sequence done on the side where the judges are. got Level 3s. The only difference between the two sequences, Charlie Cyr explained, was that different key points are judged.

Davis and White received +2s GoEs from all but one judge who gave +1 for the opposite side, Sequence 2 Rhumba. For the near-the-judges Sequence 1, they got seven +2s with two +1s . The Technical Special gave a No on the middle of the three key points on both sequences, which prevented them from getting Level 4.

The Level 3 non-touching circular steps were given unanimous +2s.

Davis admitted, "Weíre pretty pleased with how our Short Dance went tonight. Itís still really fresh, still really early in the season, so we were out there to have fun and get it started." White said, "I think we can look forward to attacking the program a little bit more. We definitely try to go with the flow. Like Meryl said, we havenít had a ton of time with the program yet, so we just want to go out there and do the program like we know how, so I think with training more weíll be able to feel a bit more comfortable and get into character more, show off deeper edges - just little things everywhere."

Davis said, their 10.26 point lead, "doesnít affect how we (will) approach the (Free) program. Itís a program thatís really new for us but weíre having really fun with it." They had initially planned to perform to Felliniís poignant La Strada but, after Champs' Camp, that was trashed in favor of the more upbeat, Die Fledermaus.

2. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, 60.07 (29.15+31.56 -1.0) from France are the European champions. They began training with Pasquale Camerlengo and Anjelika Krylova at the Detroit Figure Skating Club this summer. They had previously left their base in Lyon, to train with Alexander Zhulin in Moscow for several years.

Pechalat, who will turn 28 on December 22, and Bourzat, who will be 31 on December 19, were in light green outfits. The green was reflected in his haggard face. He was really sick. "I had a cold and then it went to bronchitis," he revealed before the event. By the time of the press conference he looked in danger of imminent collapse. "I couldnít take any rest because of this event. I had to practice for Skate America. Itís tough but we have to come here. Iím trying to do my best because we have a job to do."

They made their debut in the world championship in 2004 placing 20th and worked their way up to fifth and twice fourth in the past three world championships. In Moscow in April, they seemed certain to win the bronze but he had a disastrous fall pulling her down also and it cost them the bronze medal, which was claimed by Maia and Alex Shibutani. He also fell in this event just after the completion of their non-touching steps.

They began with a Level 4 +0.86 curve lift and they went into their Level 3+0.93 first Rhumba Sequence. Then came the Level 3 non-touching +0.29 steps followed by the fall. Their second Rhumba sequence was also Level 3 with +0.29. However, their Level 3 twizzles got -0.36 removed from the base level.

They performed to three sambas: Mas Que Nada by Ben Jorge; Batacuda by Abacaxi; and Real in Rio by S. Mendes, J. Powell and C. Brown. This is a particularly imporant season for them since Worlds are in Nice, in their home country..

Pechalat said, somewhat unbelievably, "Well, weíre not too happy about tonight because of the mistake, but we all enjoyed it. Before going onto the ice, we said, ĎOk. We have time until the European and World Championships. So, what will happen will happen.í The rest of the program was enough clean."

3. Nelli Zhiganshina, 24, and Alexander Gazsi, who just turned 27, earned 55.66 (29.14+26.52), a significant distance behind the French. The German champions were 11th in Worlds and 7th in Europe. Former US champion Judy Blumberg is a tough Technical Specialist. At the Nebelhorn Trophy, the Germans' Rhumba sequences were 4 and 3. Here, their Rhumba, set to Desparados from Once Upon a Time in Mexico (with a later Samba), got only Level 2s. However, they earned all` positive overall GoEs and got Level 4 for their twizzles and rotational lift, and these Germans weren't complaining. Zhiganshina said, "Sitting in third right now is amazing for us." Gazsi added, "We want to defend this placement and try to attack again in the Free Dance", Gazsi said.

4. Kharis Ralph, 19, and Asher Hill, 20, from Canada,who earned 52.68 (27.79+24.89) are coming off a bronze medal win in the recent Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany where they finished behind Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Zhiganshina and Gazsi). It was their first international medal and they are riding a high. Coach Carol Lane said they were over the moon with their placing. "They are just so pleased they are in the same warm-up group with the world champions. They are absolutely thrilled to be on the same ice as them."

Ralph and Hill, who are ranked fourth in Canada, performed a Rhumba to Wanna Be Startiní Somethiní by Michael Jackson Harlem Nocturne and Do You Want to Dance? They received Level 2 for their opening element, the non-touching steps, Level 4 for their lift anf twizzles, and 3 and 2 for their Rhumba sequences.

5. Isabella Tobias and Deividas Stagniunas, 51.83 (28.14+23.69) were 14th representing Lithuania in their first Worlds together in April. The 26-year-old Stagniunas, who was born in Kaunas, has had several previous partners. They train alongside White and Davis in Canton. Tobias is a 20-year old from New York. They presented a Samba and Merengue medley by the singer, Shakia. They earned Level 4 for their twizzles and rotational lift, Level 3 for both Rhumba sequences but had a slight negative (-0.14) for their non touching circular steps.

6. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, 49.71 (24.65+25.06) tried to put a good light on their low marks, which were a blow after they son the Nebelhorn Trophy ahead of the Germans who currently lie third. "We didn't do a good Short in Oberstdorf (where Donohue had a slight problem although he didn't fall) but we still got marks way about those we got today. We were second to the Germans and we did overtake them. The experience, competition-wise, in this venue has been great. Itís very comfortable. It feels like weíre at nationals. It's my first time at Skate America so itís nice to stay inside the country.

"The actual performance today, it was an improvement than what we did in Oberstdorf. I think the short dance, unfortunately, is our weakness right now compared to our free dance. You know, we have a lot of questions for the technical panel and everything - for Judges and technical panel. The score in general wasnít what we were hoping for obviously. It was a significant step down from our performance in Oberstorf, so thatís disappointing of course, but all we can do is look forward to tomorrow and prove our strengths in the free dance.

"The rhumba has unfortunately been a struggle for us. I think we tried to get out as many times as we could in the early season and really get feedback from the technical panels and what they were looking for and I think we have to reevaluate a lot because what we were advised would guarantee the level, it turns that I donít think they are really looking at it as much as they said they would. What we need to work on is getting the outside edge and not really pay attention to the things we were focusing on."

The new two-some, who are both 20, are training alongside Pechalat & Borzat, received Level 4 for their twizzles and lift, the other three elements were Level 2.

They were asked by the cheeky press corp her about their being a "sexy"couple. Donohue said, laughing, "Well, Iíve had a few partners in the past, and Iíve never really had a relationship with them, and Maddy doesn't have to worry about the brother-sister relationship anymore." She countered, "They were always telling me I was too sexy, even when I was dressed up in a polka outfit trying to look German."

7. Isabella Cannuscio and Ian Lorello 42.05 (21.43+21.62 -1) had a disappointing outing with Lorello falling. His mistake meant they got no marks for their twizzle sequence. The 21-year-old explained, "Itís one of those fluke things that kind of happens and you canít really control that stuff. You just have to be prepared that if it does happen, you can get the best recovery you can and keep going in the program so it doesnít affect your other elements and your performance."

His partner said, "I thought it went really well. We had decent levels (a 4 for the lift, 3s for both Rhumba sequences and a 2 for the non-touching steps.) The circular steps were only 2, but we know to work on that."

8. 37.50 (19.57+20.93 -3) Alexandra Paul, 20, and Mitchell Islam, 22, who are ranked third in Canada had a terrible outing. She has been off the ice due to an injury to her knee which was misdiagnosed and obviously came back onto the ice too soon. This duo astonished the world by winning silver medals in the 2010 world junior championships only a year after they teamed up. This is only their second Grand Prix event. They were fourth in their debut in last yearís Skate Canada.

It was immediately apparent, just a few seconds into their routine when she fell onto her knees, that they were not ready to return to this level of competition.


Free Dance

Planned Program Content


Starting Order - Free Dance

Warmup Group 1

  1. Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam, CAN
  2. Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello, USA
  3. Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, USA
  4. Isabella Tobias & Deividas Stagniunas, LTU

Warmup Group 2

  1. Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill, CAN
  2. Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi, GER
  3. Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat, FRA
  4. Meryl Davis & Charlie White, USA

Start Time: 13:34


Free Dance Placements
Place Couple Country
1 Meryl Davis & Charlie White USA
2 Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat FRA
3 Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donoh USA
4 Isabella Tobias & Deividas Stagniunas LTU
5 Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill CAN
6 Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi GER
7 Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam CAN
8 Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello USA

Stars and Stripes Victorious

Total score: 178.07; FS 107.74 (51.21+56.53) Meryl Davis and Charlie White presented a carefree picture of a romantic era of beauty and privilege set music from one of the worldís most beloved operettas, Die Fledermaus, to win their second straight Skate America title.

The ease at which they flowed through their four minutes ten seconds belied the difficulty of their moves. It was an absolutely beautiful showing with breathtaking and novel moves. The few spectators who were wise enough to attend the contest gave them a standing ovation.

They have now been unbeaten in seven events. The last time they took less that gold was in the Vancouver Olympic Games and 2010 world championship, where they earned silver, behind their training buddies, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

Davis was attired in a bare-backed ball gown of purple with silver trim and pink underskirt, with a silver adornment on her hair bun. She appeared to be a true aristocrat, perhaps a countess, maybe even a princess. He was in a traditional tails, definitely a confident man-about-town.

The routine opened with a straight line lift in which she twists into arms. Then came a circular step sequence and then a combination spin with some very graceful positions. In the following rotational lift, she is on one of his shoulders in a split position, acknowledging the applause of the audience while he twirls her around like a ballerina rotating on a jewelry box.

Their synchronized twizzles were good, as was the curve lift. During the midline step sequence the small crowd began to clap rhythmically showing their appreciation and after their rotation lift there was a standing ovation.

Each of the nine judges give a Grade of Execution for each of the 8 elements. Twenty five of these 72 marks were the maximum +3. The rest were +2 with the exception of two +1s. Davis said she wasnít surprised at the very warm reception the routine received. "Once we got the music and had done a couple of weeks of choreography, we started to get very excited about the potential of the routine, so we werenít surprised by todayís reception."

White said, "We got all Level 4s except for the footwork. So now we have to go through the routine and figure out what is the edge, we werenít on at one point. But itís a good sign that weíre heading in the right direction. The pressure isnít the same as it was last year when they were so focused on that one goal. Last year it felt like we had more pressure because we felt it was our time; we said we wanted to win worlds. This season we're looking to enjoy it a little more competition to competition.

"Itís really nice to have our first competition of the year be Skate America. We felt the crowd behind and that does make a big difference, especially the first time out when you might be a little bit unsure. We always like to thank the fans. The skate for us was very good. Definitely the best we have done the program to date which is always nice in competition. We havenít been able to see the levels but I think in terms of the character and how we wanted to present ourselves, weíre very pleased. Weíre looking forward to working on it more."

Davis said, "Weíre really not surprised that it went smoothly and that the audience liked it. Once we got home from Champs Camp at the end of August and sat down with our coaches and talked a lot about our options and what pieces of music we wanted to skate to. Marina came to us with this piece of music. She had brought it to our attention a couple of times before but we thought now would be a good time to take on that opportunity. With a couple of weeks of choreography under our belts and seeing how inspired both Marina and Igor were, I think we got really excited about the program. Here we are and we are absolutely thrilled with how it went."

Davis said, "Itís not foreign to skate to classical music. We skated to the golden Waltz for years. It took a gaining of maturity to understand the feeling you had to acquire in order to exude the spirit of the music with the golden waltz. It was easier for us to understand the feeling of grandeur we needed to accomplish during the program. An appreciation for classical music and an appreciation for certain eras is something figure skaters are really able to acquire."

Their second Grand Prix will be the last Grand Prix, the Rostelcom Cup in Moscow, an event they won in 2009 but had a disaster the year before yet still won bronze. As world champions they had the choice of going to a third Grand Prix but decided that they would not.

2.Overall 156.29; 2 FD 96.22 (46.42+50.80 -1) Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat have reworked an exhibition number they did a few years ago in which he is a Pharaoh, and she is his mummified dead wife. Pechalat explained, "We like to do stories in our skating and this seemed to be something we could do." She is dressed in a rather skimpy amount of bandages. He is in a Pharoahís outfit. The mummy comes to life for just one more dance and then proceeds to the after life.

Bourzat, whose bronchitis seemed a bit better from yesterday, said, "It was a nighmare for me today, but I made it through with no major mistakes. It was pretty smooth, I think Ė not as strong as we could skate it. Itís still a raw program from the beginning of the season. We are quite happy. It was a nice performance, not great, but nice.

"It was less difficult than yesterday because I didnít go through the program with the same intensity as yesterday when I tried to go 100% from the beginning. We talked to our coach and he told me to focus on the elements and go through to the end, not to push too hard, go like an exhibition. It was good advice because we made it. But it was pretty hard." They had a deduction for a lift which ran overtime and they were more than ten points behind Davis and White, but they got Level 4 for six elements with the diagonal steps earning Level 3 and the circular steps Level 2.

3.Overall 132.58; 4 FD 80.75 (41.99 + 38.76) Isabella Tobias and Deividas Stagniunas, who represent Lithuania where Stagniunas was born, gave a very energetic, fun showing to 1950s vocals, Letís Twist Again, Only You, and Tutti Fruitti. They were extremely surprised and, of course, delighted to find themselves on the podium. Stagniunas said, "We were substitutes so we were just delighted to be here. I have had many partners but I think this one is the best." Tobias, who formerly studied with the America Ballet Company in New York, has had experience of representing a foreign country. She competed with Otar Japaridze for Georgia. Tobias, who is 20 teamed up with Stagniunas last year. They train in Canton. She said, "Itís a thrill to be on the ice with Charlie and Meryl. Everyone is very dedicated and very nice. Itís an amazing idea. Everyone has the same goal. We were just thrilled to be here so to get a medal is really something."

Tobias studied at the American School of Ballet and had to make a decision as to which career to persue. She

4.Overall 131.61; 6 FD 75.95 (37.43+38.52) Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi performed to a modern version of Romeo and Juliet, in which, of course, they die at the end. They began with their Twizzles which received only Level 2 with a negative GoE (-0.64).

5.Overall 131.29; 5 FD 78.61 (40.22+38.39) Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill performed to La Cosa Pequena and El Cholulio, unusual Tango material with her in a deep red with a rose in her hair bun. They received five Level 4s and Level 2 for both step sequences and their last lift, which was a rotational.

6.Overall 131.04; 3 FD 80.75 (41.99+38.76) Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue showed off their very blue-sy number to Joe Crocker singing I Put a Spell on You, which won them gold in the Lake Placid Championships back in the summer, and an international gold recently in Germany in the Nebelhorn. Although they were third in this section, it didnít advance them from sixth, although third through sixth overall were only 1.54 apart.

Hubbell said, "We felt good. Our goal after yesterdayís performance was not to let our scores and the whole event overtake us. We stayed strong and confident in what we could do. It wasnít our perfect performance but we fought for it and stayed aggressive." They earned six Level 4s. Their circular steps were Level 2 and the diagonal steps Level 3.

7.Overall 115.22; 8 FD 73.17 (38.36+34.81) Isabella Canuscio and Ian Lorello presented a lively and emotional showing to Les Miserables. They maintained seventh place, but were eighth in the Free Dance. Speaking about that routine, Cannuscio said, "We felt a little shaky at first, but thatís kind of how our Free Dance goes. We settle into it as the program goes on, but we felt good." Lorello said, "After we got through those twizzles, I wasnít worried about anything after that." Four of their required elements received the maximum Level 4. Their twizzles and the rotational lift were Level 3 and both step sequences Level 2.

8.Overall 111.70; 7. FD 74.20 (40.21+34.99 -1.0) Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, Canada, started off the ice dance free with a routine to Tonight by B.Taupin and E. John, gaining a deduction for an extended lift. Dressed in grey and blue outfits, they performed far better that they had in the Short Dance and got this section off to a fine start. Six of their eight elements received the maximum Level 4. Both step sequences were Level 2.


2011 Skate America Dance Medalists


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