Golden Skate

2002-03 North American Challenge Skate: Highlights

The four-event 2002-2003 North American Challenge Skate series ended with the final event in Huntsville, Alabama on August 23-24, 2002. Based on results from that event plus another U.S. event in Phoenix, AZ and two Canadian events held in Dieppe, New Brunswick and Thunder Bay, Ontario, the United States won the team trophy that was presented to U.S. team leader Holly Cole at the conclusion of the event in Huntsville.

Four events were contested in Huntsville: junior dance and novice dance, men, and ladies. The two countries split the events with Canada taking home the gold in junior dance and novice ladies, while the U.S. won novice dance and men. The Canadians dominated the junior dance, with Siobhan Karam and Joshua McGrath winning both the original dance and the free dance to outpoint their compatriots, Alexandra Nino and Andrew Poje, who won the Silver Samba but were second in the original and third in the free. U.S. skaters Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin were third, improving from fourth in the compulsories to third in the original and second in the free. A series of slips in the straight-line section of the Silver Samba hurt them in the first dance.

The U.S. came back to take the novice dance title when newcomers Meghan McCullough and Joel Dear won the free dance, switching places with Canadians Danielle Steeves and Michael Coreno who had won the Blues compulsory dance. Canadians Amy Saucke-Lacelle and Marc-Andre Isabelle were fourth in both dances, but finished third overall. McCullough and Dear, who had just teamed up in the summer, were a late addition named to the U.S. team after a strong skate at the Lake Placid Ice Dancing Championships just three weeks before. They skated to a medley of 1930’s tunes performed by the London Philharmonic.

The Canadians were back on top in the novice ladies as Stephanie Tremblay came back from third in the technical to win the free skate with a strong performance to selections from the soundtrack of the movie “Le fabuleux destin d’amelie poulain”. She landed the most jumps of any of the ladies, including two big double Axels. Her performance was marred only by a fall on her triple flip. She passed the USA’s Kristina Moore, who was first in the short and third in the long to finish second overall. The bronze went to U.S. skater Alicia Heelan, who jumped from fourth in the short. Canada’s Cindy Vezina, second in the short, had a terrible long and dropped to seventh overall.

In novice men, James Josh Hanley of the USA also jumped from third to first by winning the free skate using music from the soundtrack of “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Canada’s Brennan Martin was second in both events and overall, while teammate Kevin Darwish, who led after the short, took the bronze. Colin Pennington, brother of Parker Pennington, just missed a medal, falling from third in the short to fourth overall.