Novice athletes kick-off the action in Greensboro

Figure Skaters Online


GREENSBORO, N.C. — Seventy novice athletes kicked off the competition at the 2011 U.S. Championships kicked off Sunday in Greensboro, N.C. After ice dancers Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons won the compulsory dance, finishing first in both the blues and Paso Doble, Mariah Bell took the ladies short program, Nathan Chen topped the men’s short program and Madeline Aaron and Max Settlage were victorious in the pairs short program.

Parsons and Parsons hold a sizable lead over the second place dance team Jessica Mancini and Tyler Brooks, finishing 52.36 to 48.68. Third and fourth place belong to Kaitlin Hawayek and
Michael Bramante (47.88) and Elliana Pogrebinsky and
Ross Gudis (47.15).

With 41.91 points for her performance to music from the East of Eden soundtrack, Bell narrowly leads pre-event favorites Barbie Long (41.77) and Hannah Miller (39.34). Bell, who had strong spins including a Level 3 layback, landed a double Axel, a triple Salchow-double toe combination and a triple toe for an element score of 23.13. Long performed a double Axel and a triple lutz-double toe but was sloppy on her triple loop, receiving a negative grade of execution (.20). Both spins, the layback and the change foot combination, were Level 4 but her spiral received a Level 1.

Miller experienced problems at the start of her program to “Singin’ in the Rain”, falling on the triple Salchow in what was supposed to be a triple Salchow-double toe combination. She regrouped, adding the double toe to the tail end of her triple toe. She also performed a clean double Axel and two Level 4 spins but her spiral sequence was low-scoring.

Alana Walker is fourth with 35.11 following a performance that included a double Axel, a triple loop and a double flip-double loop combination.

Defending U.S. Novice Men’s Champion Nathan Chen holds a huge advantage over Lukas Kaugars (46.43), Jordan Moeller (45.05) and Nix Phengsy (43.88), who finished second, third and fourth in the novice men’s short program. None of the 12 competitors received deductions for falls.

The 11-year-old from Salt Lake City received a partial standing ovation for his 52.47 point performance, which scored 1.23 points higher than his short program at last year’s nationals. Skating to “Rawhide”, Chen landed a double Axel, triple toe and a triple Lutz-double toe combination, and also performed two Level 4 spins, the camel spin and the change foot combination spin. His straight line step sequence received Level 2.

Chen will be eligible for the Junior Grand Prix circuit in the 2012-13 season.

Kaugars performed a triple toe-double toe, a double flip and a double Axel while Moeller landed a triple Salchow-double toe, double axel and a triple toe. Skating to “Hommage Aux Marquises” by Gitano Family, Phengsy encountered trouble early in his program, adding a single toe to the end of what was supposed to be a solo triple Lutz. He then performed a triple flip instead of a triple Salchow-double toe but recovered for a nice double Axel.

After the novice pairs short program, Madeline Aaron and Max Settlage are in first place with 40.33 points. In their performance to “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy, the pair performed a double twist, side-by-side double loops, a change foot combination spin, a Group 5 step-in lasso lift, a backward inside death spiral and a throw double flip. Their spirals were a Level 1 and the pair spin was a Level 2.

Aaron and Settlage are partially coached by John Coughlin, who is a favorite for the gold medal in the senior pairs event with his partner Caitlin Yankowskas. Dalilah Sappenfield and Larry Ibarra also coach the team.

Chelsea Liu and Devin Perini are second with 38.64 points, following a short program highlighted by a Groupe 5 Axel Lasso Lift that earned 5.50 points. In third and fourth, Caitlin Fields and Jason Pacini (37.82) and Audrey Goldberg and Joseph Dolkiewicz (36.27).

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


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Figure Skaters Online staff reports