Courtney Hicks wins junior ladies short program

STAFF REPORTS
Figure Skaters Online
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GREENSBORO, N.C. — No, that was not Sasha Cohen who won the junior ladies short program at the 2011 U.S.  Championships on Monday in Greensboro, N.C. But short program winner Courtney Hicks may very well be the next best thing.

Wearing the dress that Olympic silver medalist Cohen used in the 2002-03 season, Hicks (60.84 points) finished with 7.76 points ahead of the field. Katarina Kulgeyko (53.08) Lauren Dinh (52.51) finished second and third while Mary Beth Marley, who also skates senior pairs with Rockne Brubaker, took fourth with 50.55.

“That was my best skate of the year,” Hicks said. “I’m very happy with that.”

Cohen, who was also coached by John Nicks, wore the purple and gold dressed donned by Hicks for her Piano Concerto No. 2 free skate en route to the the gold medal 2002 Grand Prix Final and a bronze medal at the 2003 U.S. Championship. “Mr. Nicks didn’t like my other dress so he asked Sasha if I could use one of hers and she picked this one,” Hicks said.

It was fitting for the program to “Dark Eyes”, the same piece of music Cohen used to win the 2006 U.S. Championship, 2006 Olympic silver medal and 2006 World Championship bronze medal. Cohen also used “Dark Eyes” for her short program in the 2004-05 season, which was highlighted by a World silver.

“My inspiration for this program was Sasha Cohen. I’m wearing her dress,” said Hicks, who is 15-years-old. “We just tried to pick music that I would be able to skate well to. And so, this ‘Dark Eyes’ came to mind.”

The only skater to attempt a triple-triple combination, Hicks landed her triple flip-triple toe, double Axel and triple loop to secure the top spot entering the free skate. While her jumps and Level 3 circular step sequence were solid, her most impressive moves were her Level 4 spins, including an interesting change foot combination spin that ended the program.

“I came up with a new spin — I call it the ‘Twhicks’ and when I go down, it’s a ‘Twhicks pretzel’,” she said.

For the free skate, Hicks is using another piece used by Cohen, “Malaguena”.

Cohen competed once at the national championship in junior ladies, finishing second in 1999.

Kulgeyko was happy to get through her performance Monday.

“I’ve had a pretty rough season,” she said. “I had shin splints in my right leg around the time of regionals and sections, so I really couldn’t do any of my difficult elements, like my flip and Salchow.”

She opened her program to “La Cumparsita” by Tango Project with a triple flip-double toe and also performed a triple loop and a double Axel. Like Hicks, her spins were also well received, with the change foot combination and layback receiving a Level 4.

Dinh’s performance included a triple loop, triple Lutz-double toe, a double Axel and two Level 4 spins. Marley had similar content for her program but opened with the triple Lutz-double toe, which received a negative grade of execution, and then the triple loop, which also received a negative grade of execution.

For complete results from the 2011 U.S. Championships, please click here.

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