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Skate Today

Classic coverage from Salt Lake City

The 2013-14 figure skating season kicked off September 11-14 in Salt Lake City, Utah with the US International Figure Skating Classic. The Senior B event included national, world, and Olympic competitors.  More than 60 skaters from 16 countries participated.  The Classic gave the skaters, coaches, and choreographers an opportunity to get early feedback from international judges prior to the Grand Prix Series.

DESTINATION-2014 OLYMPICS-SOCHI, RUSSIA

PAIRS

The road to Sochi began for many skaters in SLC, September 12, with the pairs’ short programs.  Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovich, in first place,  used last year’s short program, Micmac, to begin defending their 2012 Classic gold medal. 2013 US champions, Marissa Castelli and Simon Schnapir skated to a sassy Santana medley to land them in second place.  In third,  US 2012 Champions, Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, who missed last season due to his hip surgery, debuted their Tosca program with an opening Christopher Dean move.

The pairs returned to the ice Friday with their long programs.  Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovich, reigning Canadian and Four Continents silver medalists, retained their Classic title.  Their back ended throws and lifts increased the difficulty and score. They received a total 201.03 points. “That program, no matter how hard I train it, is always hard at the end and it’s built that way.  Our training came through. It was good for this point in the season,”  said Moscovich.” Denney and Coughlin opened with a spectacular triple twist and moved into second place. The musical crescendos from The Phantom of the Opera highlighted their elements.  Coughlin commented on the audience reaction to the program. “It was a lot of fun. We felt the crowd behind us.” Their combined score was 188.47. The young USA team, Kayne and O’Shea, vaulted over the 2013 US champions and onto the podium. They used a spirited skate to Don Quixote to score a combined 167.27 points. O’Shea had some sharp criticism for himself. “I was a little disappointed in myself. I made some silly mistakes, hand down on both jumps.  It could have been cleaner, but I’m happy with how we performed and didn’t let little things affect the program as a whole.” A disappointed Melissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir fell to fourth place. “It just wasn’t good.  We need to focus on our side by side jumps. We did double toes because we were working on the quad throw Salchow,” commented Castelli.  She landed two beautiful ones in practice and hopes to have it spot on by Skate America.. The Skating Club of Boston team ended with a total of 165.91 points.

MEN

The USA dominated the men’s short programs.  Max Aaron, 2012 US International Figure Skating Classic champion, returned to SLC to defend his title. His Latin short program garnered him 81.49 points from the international panel.  Aaron’s ballroom classes helped enhance the mambo-samba dancing moves throughout the program. Afterwards,  he commented, “It could have been better.  I’m here to figure out what I need to do to compete these programs and accomplish them clean.”  Stephen Carriere, the full time Boston College student, scored 77.48 points for second place.. He opened Scheherazade with a beautiful triple Axel and ended with a trademark blurring headless spin.  Carriere  commented on his early September performance, “It was an overall clean program, definitely, jump-wise.” In third place,  Joshua Farris, 2013 World Junior Champion,  missed his opening  Quad. “My coaches wanted me to just put it out there. So I tried it.  I didn’t quite stick it, but I stayed on my feet, and I’m happy with that.” His short program score was 71.85. Grant Hochstein’s 63.29 score put him in fourth place. The replacement for Evan Lycacek, kept the secret for several days.  He said, “I didn’t even tell my mom.”

The men’s free skate was a clean sweep for the USA.  Max Aaron defended his 2012 Classic title by earning 239.21 points.  He had difficulty landing his three Quad Salchows. “I wanted to see what it would take to do three quads in a program, and now I know I have my hands full,” said the US champion.  He added,  “All I can do is keep training and figure out how to make these clean performances.” Max chose Carmen for his Olympic year music because, “I always wanted to use it.”  Stephen Carriere secured second place and a total of 225.51 with his skate to Don Quixote. After the event,  the 24 year old Carriere reflected, “This week I learned I’m much more mentally tough than I thought I was.  It’s something I need to work on and this competition definitely helped me with that.” Joshua Farris placed third with a score of 206.56.  He skated to Schindler’s List, a program he choreographed with his coach, Damon Allen. He was not pleased with his skating after missing several elements.  He begged, “Can I blame it on Friday the 13th? Actually, it’s a brand new program for Farris.  “I connect with it so well, especially the beginning, which is so intense.  I definitely want to bring that out in my skating, so I might focus on the choreography just a little bit too much,” said the eighteen year old Colorado Springs resident.

LADIES

Agnes Zawadski  and Gracie Gold from the USA were the defending 2012 US International Figure Skating Classic ladies gold and silver medalists respectively.  After the 2013 ladies short programs, the skaters switched positions.  Gracie Gold stood atop the leader board, with Agnes 2.22 points behind.  Courtney Hicks and Samantha Cesario were in third and fifth place.  Canadian Amelie Lacoste was sandwiched between them in fourth. On Friday the thirteenth,  Lacoste was the only one in the top five to skate a clean double Axel.. All four USA ladies faltered on the jump. The women appeared to have the most difficulty with the earliness of the competitive season.

At the end of the ladies free program, a new winner was crowned. Courtney Hicks vaulted over her competitors and grabbed first place with a score of 171.88. She skated to Evita, and tweeted, “It’s my favorite program, ever!” Hicks worked hard to portray the passionate, but combative Eva Peron with her facial expressions, speed, and strongly accented elements.  “I was a lot more focused than in my short program and I’m definitely happy with my skate,” commented the soft spoken Hicks. Gracie Gold again placed second with 164.68 points.  Gold, the US silver medalist, confidently took the ice to Sleeping Beauty. She landed a 3Lutz +3Toe combination, then encountered her nemesis, the 2Axel. Her confidence appeared to dissipate with popped jumps in the middle of the program, but she ended strongly. Gold commented on the missed jumps, “I sort of got out of my knees, and I didn’t take my deep breaths. It’s the first competition of such a big season, and I let that get into my head a little bit.” Samantha Cesario leapfrogged from fifth to the podium with a strong skate to Carmen.  Cesario was second in the free skate with five clean triple jumps. Her combined score was 164.68. The New Yorker commented on her free program, “It was a lot of fun. I wasn’t too happy with my short program, but I fought a lot harder today. My performance wasn’t perfect, but I’m happy with the overall result.”  The 2012 Classic champion, Agnes Zawadzki, placed fourth and off the podium.  The disappointed 2013 US bronze medalist observed, “It’s definitely back to the drawing board for me. My next thing isn’t until November.  I need to strategize and figure out what I need to do, what works, what doesn’t work and kind of get my head straight.” Amélie Lacoste of Canada placed fifth with an  Amelie soundtrack program.

DANCE

The short dance rhythm pattern for the 2014 Olympic year is the Finnstep. First skated in 1995 as an Original Dance by the Finnish couple, Susanna Rahkamo & Petri Kokko, it was accepted by the ISU as a Compulsory Dance in 2008. The pattern debuted at the 2009 Europeans and Four Continents.  2013 World Champions, Meryl Davis & Charlie White, lead after the short dance.  Their crisp, light movements to selections from My Fair Lady showed off their Finnstep patterns. White commented, “We feel wonderful about our performance today. It’s still early in the season, and we can’t go out there on auto pilot and just enjoy the process.”  The Michigan native added, “Obviously we’re pleased with the score.” (73.67) Canadian silver medalists, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje received 62.61 points for second place. Their skate to the musical, 42nd  Street  included tap-infused sounds, with. Jeffrey Tyler’s choreography highlighting the tones. Weaver & Poje took tap dance lessons to improve the authenticity of the program.  Weaver remarked, “Our biggest challenge is the newness (of the program).  We’re trying to get the timing good without thinking of the edges and the edges good without thinking of the timing.”  2011 Junior Grand Prix Finals gold medalists, Nicole Orford &Thomas Williams, are nineteen points behind the leaders with 54.64 points. The young team  used Frank Sinatra’s, “ Cheek to Cheek” and “Fly Me to the Moon” to move them into third place.  Orford commented, “It was a pretty good skate for us.  There were a few wobbles, but hopefully it didn’t show as much as it felt.”

The Free Dance programs closed the 2013 US International Figure Skating Classic on Saturday evening.  The podium was the same as the Short Dance results. The skaters in fourth, fifth and sixth places shuffled positions. 2010 Olympic silver medalists, Meryl Davis & Charlie White threw down the gauntlet and issued a challenge with their skate to Scheherazade by Rmsky-Korsakov.  The 2013 World Champions floated seamlessly across the ice with no hesitation before or after each lift. White spoke about the potential for the program,  “We feel strongly that it’s going to grow immeasurably.  What’s exciting is just knowing how far we can take it,” Their combined score was 183.69.   Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje finished second with 161.99 points. The music selection of Maria de Buenos Aires, an Argentinian tango operetta, took Weaver and Poje in a new direction. Dressed all in black, their intense and serious attitude dramatically escalated from start to finish. The Canadian team was off ice for four months last year when Weaver broke her ankle sliding into the boards.  Poje commented on the SLC program debut, “Putting it out there so early is new for us.  We still have to develop the program, develop our stamina and the finishes in the program.”  Canadians Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams finished third, far behind the winners with a score of 137.60.  They skated to Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera.  The Vancouver, BC based team skated the program with speed and enthusiasm. Logan Giulletti-Schmitt & Lynn Kriengkrairut, the 2012 Classic bronze medalists, moved up from sixth to fourth place after the free dance with 134.48 points.  Their interpretation of Spartacus was peppered with several new and challenging lifts. They recently made a coaching change to Igor Shpilband in Novi, Michigan. Kriengkrairut commented on the switch. “It’s a lot different in our new training environment, but it’s been positive.” Giulletti-Schmitt added, “Our programs are a lot freer this year. We have the ability to move across the ice a lot better.”  Coomes & Buckland (GBR) skated to a Michael Jackson medley and finished fifth with 133.41 points.  The team trains in New Jersey with their coach, Evgeny Platov.

The 2013 US International Figure Skating Classic concluded with the awarding of the medals to the dance teams and the playing of the US national anthem for the winners.

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