Golden Skate

2007 US Figure Skating Championships: Ice Dance Highlights

Novice Division

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (Colorado Springs, Colo.) were the gold medal winners in the Novice division, while Sara Bailey (Newark, Del.) and Kyle Herring (Norwich, Conn.) and Anastasia Cannuscio (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.) and Dean Copely (Newark, Del.) won the silver and bronze, respectively.

Compulsory Dance (CD)

Dance teams in the Novice division performed two Compulsory Dances (the Pasa Doble and the European Waltz). The Paso Doble was invented by Daphne B. Wallis and Reginald J. Wilkie, and was first performed in 1938 at the Westminster Ice Rink in London, Great Britain. The inventor(s) of the European Waltz is currently unknown, but the dance has been used for over 100 years.

Bailey and Herring, who train in Newark, Del., placed first in both their CDs for a total score of 49.87 points.

M. Shibutani (12) and A. Shibutani (15 ) finished second in both their CDs, placing a close second overall (48.90 points).

Cannuscio and Copely, placed third in both their CDs and overall (46.26).

Teammates and training partners Isabella Cannuscio (16) and Ian Lorello (16 ) were fourth (44.96).

Free Dance (FD)

Performing to music from the Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack, Shibutani and Shibutani opened with very good level four synchronized twizzles. Despite a fall during a transition move by Maia, the 2007 Novice Midwestern Sectional Novice Champions otherwise produced three good level four lifts, a level four combination dance spin, and a nice circular step sequence. The brother-and-sister team placed first in the FD (59.52 points) and overall (108.42 points) to win the title.

I’m in a state of shock,” said Alex. “I’m very proud of the way we skated. This whole week is an amazing experience and now we can just kick back and enjoy the rest of our time here.”

Bailey (16) and Herring (17) showed good expression in their routine to Harem by Sarah Brightman, producing a very good level four curve-rotational combination lift and nice level three combination dance spin. However, the team had a bit of problem during the twizzle sequence, while Herring slipped and fell near the end of the program while transitioning into a pose. Despite the mistakes, the 2007 Novice Eastern Sectional Novice Champions placed second in the FD (56.49 points) and overall (106.36 points) to win the silver.

Cannuscio and Lorello, who stood in fourth after the CD, skated their routine to A New World by Michael Flatley which featured a very good dance spin, as well as a good circular step sequence and straight line-curve rotational lift. The 2007 Novice Eastern Sectional silver medalist placed third in the FD (55.82 points) and fourth overall (100.78 points).

Cannuscio (14) and Copely (17) performed their lively dance to the Mr. and Mrs. Smith soundtrack, which featured a straight line-rotational combination lift, a circular step sequence, a good dance spin, and two more difficult lifts. The team who trains in Newark, Del. placed fourth in the FD (55.14 points) and third overall (101.40 points) to win the bronze.

Madison Chock (14) and Greg Zuerlein (18), who train in Canton, Mich., were fifth (99.64 points).

Junior Division

Emily Samuelson (Novi, Mich.) and Evan Bates (Ann Arbor, Mich.) won the title in the Junior division, edging out Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell (Sylvania, Ohio) by a mere .17 points. Lynn Kriengkrairut (Bismarck, N.D.) and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt (Oak Park, Ill.) won the bronze.

All three teams will represent the U.S. at the upcoming World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Compulsory Dance (CD)

The dance teams in the Junior division performed two Compulsory Dances (the Silver Samba and the Midnight Blues). The Silver Samba was invented by Courtney J. L. Jones and Peri V. Horne, and was first performed in 1963 at the Queen’s Ice Rink in London, England.

The Midnight Blues, the newest of the Compulsory Dances, was invented by Roy Bradshaw, Sue Bradshaw, Mark Bradshaw, and Julie MacDonald and was first performed in 2001 in Vancouver, Canada.

Samuelson (15) and Bates (17) showed confidence and strong technical skills, placing first in both dances with a total of 35.71 points.

Hubbell and Hubbell, who displayed good expression in both dances, placed a close second with a a total of 34.62 points.

Pilar Bosley (Bel Air, Md.) and John Corona (Glen Mills, Pa.) were third overall (29.89 points), followed closely by Shannon Wingle (Portage, Mich.) and Ryan Devereaux (Pittsburgh, Pa.) who were fourth with 29.33 points.

Piper Gilles and Timothy McKernan of Colorado Springs, Colo. were fifth (29.08 points).

Original Dance (OD)

M. Hubbell (15) and K. Hubbell (18) showed good expression and confidence in their tango, delivering a good level four midline step sequence with synchronized twizzles, a very good level four midline step and level three diagonal step sequence, a good dance spin, and two very good lifts to place first in the OD (54.00 points) and overall (88.62 points).

Despite the fall, Keiffer felt that their performance went well. “I think we had really an all-around good skate today. The midline step sequence was awarded a level four for the first time this season.”

“We’ve been really trying with the new system since last year,” added Madison. “We understand it more and we really feel comfortable with it at this point.”

Samuelson and Bates had an uncharacteristic fall during a diagonal step sequence in their routine to Quejas de Bandoneón, but the 2006-07 JGP silver medalists otherwise took command of the ice, delivering two very good level four midline step sequences (one with good synchronized twizzles), two very good lifts, and a good dance spin, placing second in the OD (50.63 points) and overall (86.38 points).

“I think I hit my toepick after the rocker,” explained Samuelson of the fall. “It was just a freak accident that we didn’t expect to happen. “We have the free dance competition tomorrow, and it’s another chance for us to show what we’re able to do.'”

Kriengkrairut (18) and Giulietti-Schmitt (21), who stood in sixth after the CDs, produced a dance to Primavera Portena by Piazzolla which included a good level four midline and level three diagonal step sequence, a very good level two midline step sequence, two good level four lifts, and a good dance spin, placing third (46.91 points) in the OD and overall (75.36 points).

Gilles and McKernan also produced a good dance which featured a very good level four rotational lift and dance spin, placing fourth in the OD (46.06 points) and overall (75.14 points).

Wingle (16) and Devereaux (17) placed fifth (45.67) in the OD and overall (75.00 points).

Bosley and Corona, who stood in third after the CDs, placed seventh (43.94 points) in the OD and sixth overall (73.83 points).

Free Dance (FD)

Samuelson and Bates opened their dance to a Latin medley with an excellent serpentine lift that had good speed and deep edges, followed by a very good dance spin and circular step sequence. The 2006 National Junior silver medalists also produced a very good level lift and midline step sequence, as well as an excellent rotational lift, earning 81.27 points for a first place finish in the FD and overall (167.65).

The team, who earned level fours for all their elements, was the first to be awarded all level fours at the U.S. Championships since the international judging system was introduced at the 2006 event.

“We are very very proud and we are happy with the way we skated,” said Bates, adding that it felt ‘sweet’ to earn all level fours. “That hasn’t happened yet this season at all. We’ll definitely take it as encouraging.”

Neither one had expectations coming into the event as they knew that it would be a very difficult field. “Madison and Keiffer are such great skaters,” said Samuelson. They’re definitely our toughest competitors and they’re great people as well.”

Samuelson added that they felt a bit nervous, yet excited, going into the FD. “We just wanted to show what we could do in the free dance – that’s all that really mattered. The fall in the original dance – it’s unfortunate, but those things happen. We just had to bounce back.”

Performing to Canto Alla Vita by Josh Groban, Hubbell and Hubbell (Ann Arbor, Mich.) opened with a very good level three serpentine step sequence, followed by a very good level four curve lift, and an excellent level four straight line lift. The 2006-07 JGP Final Champions also delivered very good synchronized twizzles, an excellent serpentine lift, and a very good level three midline step sequence, placing second (78.86 points) in the FD and overall (167.48 points). The brother-and-sister team missed the top spot on the podium by a mere .18 points.

“This time we had a little more difficulty in the footwork and we didn’t get the kind of levels that we wanted,” said Madison. “But we are happy with our performance and we’re aware that Evan and Emily are amazing skaters. We expect to be competing with them no matter what – it could go either way. We’re just happy it was so close.”

When asked about moving up to the Senior level, Madison replied: “We haven’t talked to our coaches about it, but I can’t imagine [we'll move up to the senior level]. It’s only our first year as juniors, and even though we have nailed all of our improvements, I don’t think we’re ready and mature enough to go up into the senior level.”

Gilles (15) and McKernan (17) delivered a good routine to Dreamscape which featured a very good diagonal step sequence, level four rotational lift, and a level four curve-rotational combination lift. The 2007 Junior Midwestern Sectional silver medalists also produced a good dance spin and circular step sequence to place third in the FD (67.63 points) and fourth overall (142.77 points).

Skating to music from the soundtrack Take the Lead, Kriengkrairut and Giulietti-Schmitt opened with a very good level four straight line lift and a good level three diagonal step sequence, however their twizzle sequence was slightly off. Nevertheless, the 2007 Junior Pacific Coast Sectional Champions also delivered a very good level four straight line-rotational combination lift, earning 67.56 points for a fourth place finish in the FD and third overall (142.92 points).

“Words can’t even describe it,” said Giulietti-Schmitt, of winning the bronze. “It’s been amazing. We couldn’t even have expected anything close to this. We’re just thrilled.

The team has only been skating together for five months. “There have been little ups and downs with getting used to a new partnership right from the beginning,” he continued. “But things have been great overall. We couldn’t have expected more for our skating and our chemistry on the ice.”

Wingle and Devereaux placed fifth a close fifth in the FD with 67.38 points. Their performance yielded a very good level four curve-rotational lift, and a good level two circular and diagonal step sequence. The 2007 Pacific Coast Sectional Junior silver medalists were fifth overall (142.38 points).

Bosley (18) and Corona (18) finished in sixth place overall (138.38 points), followed by Brooke Huber (South Lyon, Mich.) and Karl Edelmann (Ann Arbor, Mich.) who were seventh (137.93 points).

Senior Division

Tanith Belbin (Kirkland (QC), Can.) and Ben Agosto (Chicago, Ill.) won their fourth consecutive title, while Melissa Gregory (Chicago, Ill.) and Denis Petukhov (Kirov, Russia and Hartford, Conn.) and Meryl Davis and Charlie White (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) won the silver and bronze medal, respectively.

The top three teams earned a spot at both Worlds and the 4CCS. Gregory and Petukhov declined their invite to the 4CCs, allowing the first alternates, Kim Navarro (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and Brent Bommentre (Horsham, Pa.), to take their place.

Compulsory Dance (CD)

The Compulsory Dance (CD) for the seniors was the Golden Waltz. The dance was invented by Natalia Dubova, Marina Klimova, and Sergei Ponomarenko and was first performed at the 1987 Moscow Cup.

Belbin (22) and Agosto (25) skated with confidence and precision in their CD, placing first with 39.43 points.

Davis and White also put out a good CD, showing good interpretation of the dance as well as confidence, earning 36.18 points for a second place finish.

Gregory and Petukhov skated with good expression, exhibiting a tranquil quality in their dance to earn 34.65 points for a third place finish.

Navarro (25) and Bommentre (22) were fourth (32.43 points), followed by Morgan Matthews and Max Zavozin (30.91 points).

Original Dance (OD)

Performing their sultry routine to Concierto Para Quinteto by Astor Piazzolla, Belbin and Agosto produced a very good midline step sequence with twizzles, followed by an excellent level three midline step sequence, and a very good straight line lift and dance spin. The 2006 Olympic silver medalists also produced a very good diagonal step sequence and an excellent rotational lift to place first in the OD (61.41 points) and overall (100.84 points).

“It was a relatively solid performance,” said Belbin, “but it wasn’t our best. It’s been a long day and we’ve done a good job. Now we’re really excited to debut our new free dance.”

“It’s a new program,” said Agosto, of their new free dance, “but we feel very comfortable with it and we’ve been working very hard leading up to this competition. We feel confident in all of our new elements. The program is much more artistic than our old one, not necessarily more carefree, but more lyrical and has a lot more feeling to it and more room to express a different side of ourselves.”

Gregory and Petukhov opened with good mind line step sequence with twizzles and a very good level three midline step sequence in their sizzling dance to La Cumparsita and Tanguera. The 2006 Skate America silver medalists also delivered a very good level four straight line lift, diagonal step sequence, and rotational lift, placing second (56.45 points) in the OD and overall (91.10 points).

“We were really happy with the way we skated,” said Gregory. “We thought that we really went out and attacked it, and we had a great skate. It was much improved from the last time we skated it (at the Grand Prix Final). We’re really looking forward to the free dance.”

Skating to music by John Powell, Navarro and Bommentre produced two very good midline step sequences (one with synchronized twizzles), a good dance spin, and two very good lifts and diagonal step sequence. The 2006 Karl Schaefer Memorial bronze medalists received a level four for all elements except the diagonal step sequence, placing third in the OD (55.05 points) and fourth overall (87.48 points).

Davis (20) and White (19) opened their routine with a very good combination dance spin, however, White stumbled twice on twizzles during their midline step sequence. The 2006 World Junior bronze medalists quickly recovered to produce a very good level three midline step sequence and three difficult lifts, placing fourth in the OD (54.72 points) and third overall (90.90 points).

Matthews (Fairfax, Va.) and Zavozin (Ashburn, Va.) were fifth (49.38 points). The team delivered a very good dance spin and two difficult lifts, however Zavozin stumbled during the second set of twizzles at the beginning of their routine to Autumn in Buenos Aires. The 2006 Four Continents silver medalist stood in fifth overall (80.29 points).

Jennifer Wester (Dallas, Texas) and Daniil Barantsev (Ekaterinburg, Russia) stood in sixth after the OD, followed by Caitlin Mallory (Berkeley, Calif.) and Brent Holdburg (Plano, Texas) who were seventh (151.76 points).

Free Dance (FD)

Skating to music from the Amélie soundtrack, Belbin and Agosto debuted their new free dance which began with an excellent level four twizzle sequence and curve lift, followed by a very good circular step sequence. The 2006 World bronze medalist went on to produce four outstanding lifts (one in combination), and a very good dance spin and level two diagonal step sequence, placing first in the FD (102.04 points) and overall (202.88 points).

“I have to say that number one sounded amazing,” said Agosto, “I feel like it’s a great blessing that we have had continued health and success so far. It’s been an interesting season, but this is a great Nationals for us. We just had a really great time, and it felt really good tonight.”

Tanith agreed, adding that she felt the U.S. was heading to Worlds with the strongest dance teams they could possibly have. “I think it’s phenomenal how the U.S. has stepped up in Ice Dancing. It’s actually incredible to be a part of this team. Year after year as we keep raising the bar, we see the teams going through the path getting stronger and stronger. Just a few years ago, we just had maybe one-two in Ice Dancing, and the rest of the pack wasn’t even mentioned. Now we have depth even beyond this World Team.”

The results are changing,” added Agosto, on the state of ice dance. “he results are different every time, and anyone can win. That’s the great thing. So there’s such a great group of skaters up at the top of the world, and anyone can win on any given night and I think that’s great.”

“It’s so funny to head into these major international competitions with all the top teams in the world – knowing that we’re all kind of looking at each other and thinking ‘We know that we can beat them and we know that they can beat us’,” said Belbin. “It’s very interesting to be a part of ice dancing right now with that dynamic existing. It wasn’t that long ago when thinking [was more like] ‘I know that I can’t touch them; they are going to win.'”

Gregory (25) and Petukhov (28) delivered a good routine to Yoav Goren’s Preliator and Sarabande, opening with a very good level four dance spin and an excellent level four serpentine lift. The 2006 NHK Trophy bronze medalists went on to perform a good level four twizzle sequence, a very good circular and diagonal step sequence, and three more difficult lifts (one in combination). The husband-and-wife team finished second in the FD (96.54 points) and overall (187.64 points).

“We feel very strong,” said Gregory of their performance. “We feel like we’ve finished the competition very strong. We got our highest personal best, so we’re very happy about that.”

“It’s very exciting to perform in front of the audience with so many people,” said Petukhov. It’s one of the biggest competitions in the world.”

So was the crowd. “The audience was great,” she continued. “We love this program; it is really special for us. The music, the choreography, everything about it… we feel it. So every time we perform it, we absorb the audience in with us.”

“This is Olympic year material,” added Petukhov. “We wish that this was last year’s program.”

Davis and White produced a solid routine to Polovtsian Dances by Alexander Borodin which included five very good level four lifts, a very good level four twizzle sequence, and a good combination dance spin. The 2006 U.S. Junior Champions also produced a very good diagonal and circular step sequence, earning 93.21 points for a third place finish in the FD and overall (184.11 points).

“That was a really good performance for us,” said Davis. “We didn’t quite get all the technical elements, but as far as expression and character and how we reacted to each other – it felt very good.”

“It’s an honor to be with the two US superpowers over the last couple of years,” said White. “They’ve done a great job of making a name for the US in our sport, and it’s an honor just being up here with them. So we’re looking forward to going to Worlds and learning from them.”

“We just got lucky,” said White, of being the longest coupled team in the US. “Not everybody meshes, but we have two personalities that go really well together and we have similar work ethics, similar morals, and we want the same goals. So, we’ve been able to get along really well with no problems.”

Davis agreed, adding: “I think some our biggest assets are respecting each other on and off the ice. We’ve respected our lives and our commitments, so that is really nice.”

Navarro and Bommentre performed their FD to Beatles medley, opening with an excellent level four curve lift, followed by a very good diagonal step sequence and level four synchronized twizzles. The team went on to produce four more difficult lifts and a very good level three circular step sequence, placing fourth in the FD (88.20 points) and overall (175.68 points).

“It was awesome!” said Bommentre, of their performance. We left everything out there on the ice. We feel like we were in our best shape walking into this event and we’re really happy with the outcome.”

When asked about what inspired their dance, Navarro explained: “We saw a pretty famous juggler who juggled to these songs. There’s a clip going around the internet of it. The way he juggled really brought out the music. We hoped to do the same thing with our skating.”

Matthews (19) and Zavozin (21) experienced a few stumbles in their routine to music by Maksim Mrvica, but otherwise produced five difficult lifts (one in combination) to place fifth in the FD (80.63 points) and overall (160.92 points).

Wester (21) and Barantsev (24) placed seventh in the FD (78.07 points) and sixth overall (153.34 points)

Mallory (19) and Holdburg (23) were seventh overall (151.76 points), followed by Charlotte Maxwell and Nick Traxler (147.03 points).

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