A record number of skaters competed in the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships held last week in the Olympic Center. So many in fact that there were as many as a dozen couples practicing their free dances on a single session. The competition, which was jointly sanctioned by the U. S. Figure Skating Association and Skate Canada, provided an opportunity for judges and association officials to review the progress of numerous dance teams that had been recombined over the summer as a result of partner splits, many recommended by those same officials.
In the solo dance competition, Julia Schiele was the busiest skater, winning both dances in Junior A, finishing first and fourth in Novice C, and placing sixth in Senior C. Katrina Magaard and Kimmerly Lauten each won both dances in their Novice Solo groups, while Erika Hoffman took gold medals in both of her dances in Junior C plus a gold and a silver in Senior B. Hoffman also dominated the shadow dancing competition. She won both the novice and junior events with Kara Chelo, and then teamed with Lisa Marsocci to win the senior competition. Jennifer Tashjian and Emma Welch took the intermediate shadow dance title.
The open competitions produced some unusual entries. Long-time Canadian senior competitors Josee Piche and Pascal Denis, who were competing in seniors at Canadians before some of the other competitors were born, breezed in one day to easily win the Yankee Polka and the Ravensburger Waltz. Meanwhile, Australian champions Natalie Buck and Trent Nelson-Bond, who are training in Connecticut this season with Natalia Dubova, won the Austrian Waltz and took second in the Ravensburger. Katie Copely and Duke Wensel dominated most of the remaining dances, winning the Paso Doble, Quickstep, Rhumba and Viennese Waltz. The competitor with the most unusual name, Thankful Cromartie, teamed up with Kurt Lingenfelter to win the Fourteen Step, while Michaelee Scarincio and Justin Morrow took the Rocker Foxtrot. Scarincio had little time to practice as she spent the last month performing in Coppelia with the New York City Ballet in Saratoga Springs, NY.
Competition was tight in the pre-juvenile division, where Rebecca Henke and Zachary Pivirotto took home two golds and two silvers in the compulsory dances as did Lauren Donnelly and Matthew McAvoy. In the juvenile event, Ilana Morse and Jackson Raney won the free dance. Kayla Hale and Dustin Frankel won all four compulsory dances in their group and Piper Gilles and Timothy McKernan finished first in their group with a gold and three silvers.
The intermediate division is extremely strong this season. Charlotte Maxwell and Brad Coulter won all four of their compulsory dances, as did Emily Blynn and Geoffrey Drayton in their respective groups. Alexis Hauser and Nathan Truesdell took the intermediate free dance over Maxwell and Coulter (silver) and Madison and Keiffer Hubbell (bronze), who had a bad fall in which both skaters hit the wall hard. Blynn and Drayton, who have been slowed in their preparations because coach Cheryl Demkowski-Snyder just delivered her first baby, were fifth. All of the top six teams received first place ordinals in the free.
Adrienne Koob-Doddy and Robert Antonelli won all of the novice compulsory dances in their group, but had a major spin error in their free dance, finishing only third. Kaitlyn Weaver and Charles Clavey narrowly won the second compulsory dance group over Elizabeth Palmer and Ryland Stucke. Both Weaver and Clavey and Palmer and Stucke won the free dance competitions in their groups.
In the juniors, the newly formed team of Kirsten Frisch and Augie Hill won the compulsories with two golds and a silver over Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who had a gold and two silvers. Meghan McCullough and Joel Dear and Samantha Cepican and Phillip Lichtor also had a gold and a silver each in the compulsories. Due to a scheduling error, McCullough and Dear also had the opportunity of skating against the senior dancers instead of their fellow juniors in the original dance, where they finished a respectable seventh. Frisch and Hill took the original dance with what most observers called the best performance of the entire event. Canada’s Milena Todaro and Anthony Evans placed second with Trina Pratt and Todd Gilles third. Because of the large number of entrants, there were two junior free dance groups but no runoff. Davis and White won one group over Tanis Hurst and Jeff Stoveld (second) and Sarah Solomon and Andrew Smith (third). Solomon’s former partner, Ben Cohen, finished fourth with Mimi Whetstone. In the other group, Victoria Devins and Kevin O’Keefe won easily with their new Celtic free dance, although they were still wearing the costumes from their blues free dance for the third year in a row. Todaro and Evans won the silver and Frisch and Hill the bronze with their Carmen program.
No one dominated the senior event, which featured many skaters with new partners. Emilie Nussear and Brandon Forsyth, back together after a few years apart, won the first compulsory dance, followed by Lydia Manon and Ryan O’Meara and Hilary Gibbons and Justin Pekarek, the 1999 Junior World champion with Jamie Silverstein. In the second dance, Manon and O’Meara bested Kendra Goodwin and Brent Bommentre, who was 12th at Junior Worlds in 2003 with Kirsten Frisch. Nussear and Forsyth were third. But they came back to win the original dance over Manon-O’Meara and Goodwin-Bommentre. A fall in an otherwise fine footwork sequence left Gibbons-Pekarek in fourth. Gibbons and Pekarek dominated the free dance with a powerful performance to Vanessa Mae’s The Art of War. Nussear and Forsyth were second, followed by Manon and O’Meara and Goodwin-Bommentre.