The 31st Annual Skate Detroit is in the books and there were certainly some memorable performances with the senior level skaters.
Senior Ladies Short Program – Group A
Reigning U.S. junior bronze medalist Hannah Miller, 15, is anything but petite on ice. With a fierceness and determination beyond her years, she racked up 56.72 points to Tanguera, putting her way out in the lead.
“My goal was to put out a good performance,” said the Michigan skater.
Despite her weak opening triple Lutz, the positive self-talk that Miller uses before she competes paid off. She executed a strong triple flip-double loop, a strong combination spin as well as solid foot work.
“Although this wasn’t her best, overall it was a good skate,” said Coach Kirsten Miller-Zisholz. “This is an improvement over Broadmoor. The goal is to fit in with the senior ladies which is a big step up.”
The U.S. junior silver medalist and the 2008 U.S. intermediate bronze medalist Lauren Dinh trailed behind with 49.82 points for her skate to Ava Maria.
The sixteen-year-old said she can see improvements already since her recent move from Colorado Springs and is eager to see just how far she can go with Coaches Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen at Detroit Skating Club.
“I wasn’t expecting much,” said Dinh. “I just wanted good feedback from the judges.”
Representing the Polish Figure Skating Association, Ola Kamieniecki followed behind with 45.38 points.
Senior Ladies Short Program – Group B
Reigning U.S. junior ladies gold medalist Gracie Gold grabbed first place with 62.69 points and received a standing ovation. She launched the Rippon Lutz in her winning program to Hernando’s Hideaway, choreographed by Scott Brown.
The 17-year-old said her best element was her opening triple flip-triple toe, however, the real crowd pleaser was the Rippon Lutz, executed with arms overhead, which she hit earlier this month at Skate Milwaukee.
“I have a really good start to my season and I’m really happy with my performance,” stated Gold. “My Rippon Lutz was a little better in Milwaukee, but I missed the double Axel in Milwaukee so I was glad I landed it here.”
Coach Alex Ouriashev was quoted earlier this year saying that Gold is the best jumper in the U.S.
The gracious teen admitted that she has always had trouble with nerves but has learned how to calm her jitters after seeking help from a sports psychologist.
“Rather than focus on something ‘out there’ that can cause you to be nervous, I focus on my body and what it feels like and this helps to keep me centered,” explained Gold. “I always stay in the moment when skating instead of thinking of the next element.”
2010 U.S. junior pewter medalist Kiri Baga put out a decent routine to The Mission which featured a solid triple flip and strong double Axel. She placed second with a score of 53.10, trailing the leader by nearly 10 points.
Over a year ago, Baga suffered four separate injuries that kept her off the ice for up to a month at a time. Frustrated, she felt it was not worth it to keep training to only land back on the couch icing and nursing yet another injury. However after today’s performance, she is glad she did not give up.
“Skating is a big part of my life and I don’t know what I would do without it,” said the 17-year-old.
USA’s Becky Bereswill racked up 50.64 points, earning third place for a first-time skate to a Tango chosen to help her bring power and strength to her skating. The 2008 Junior Grand Prix Final champion wore an elegant black dress adorned with lace and accented with a red hair piece which was especially striking with her blonde hair and natural beauty.
“My opening triple Lutz-double toe felt really solid,” said Bereswill, 21, who is coached by Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen at Detroit Skating Club. “I was happy with my flying sit spin because we changed it a lot recently. My other two spins were a little weak today.”
Senior Ladies Free Skate – Group A
Overnight leader Miller fought hard throughout her long program to The Storm to score 101.87 points for a total score of 158.59. Although she executed a strong double Axel followed by a solid triple loop, Miller said both her programs can still improve.
“Overall, I am happy with my presentation.”
After a fifth place performance in the short program, Amanda Dobbs of Texas moved up to second place with 75.90 points for a total score of 118.46.
“I just have to do what I trained to do every day,” said Dobbs.
“Tonight wasn’t up to last night’s standards,” said Dinh, who finished in third (117.87). “It wasn’t my best and I am a little disappointed.”
Senior Ladies Free Skate – Group B
Gold shined once again with a stellar performance that tallied 105.65 points for a total score of 168.34. She opened with a powerful triple Lutz-triple toe, and later executed a strong double Axel-double toe and a solid double Lutz.
Trailing behind by nearly 15 points, Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond bumped up from fifth place in the short program to second place with 90.77 points for a total score of 132.46.
Maintaining third place position in both the short and free skate, Bereswill chalked up 80.13 points for a total score of 130.77.
“There definitely were ups and downs to my skate to Cinderella,” said Bereswill. “I had a strong opening with a triple Lutz-double toe and a strong closing but the middle got away from me.”
Senior Ladies Final Round
With a 1.17 point spread, Miller scooted past Gold in the Senior Ladies Final Round to capture the title. Miller hammered out six triples and four doubles, including a triple Lutz and double Axel, and racked up 111.77 points.
“My triple Lutz, triple Salchow and all my spins were better,” said Miller.
Coach Miller-Zisholz added, “She fights for everything she does. I’m really pleased with everything she did. We are hoping for a Junior Grand Prix assignment.”
In second place behind Miller, Gold scored 110.60 points.
“I made a slight mistake on my double Axel,” acknowledged Gold. “My short program was great and my season is off to a good start.”
Osmond placed third in the free skate final with 100.03 points.
Having placed sixth in the final round, USA’s Carly Gold (Gracie’s twin sister) is going home on a high note.
“We always love coming to Detroit,” said mom Denise Gold. “It was so exciting that both girls made it to the final round and it was very rewarding to see them both put out a strong skate.”
Senior Men’s Short Program
Alexander Johnson, who finished 15th at the U.S. Championships earlier this year, edged out Canada’s Andrei Rogozine for first place with 66.35 and 65.72 points, respectively.
Johnson skated to Concerto in F by Gershwin which was the same piece Yuna Kim skated to in her long program at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“Once I got past my initial nervousness, I got into my skating more and absorbed into my music,” said Johnson who connected well to this piece.
Johnson, who said he was pleased with his triple Axel opening jump, also landed a clean triple Lutz in addition to a triple flip-double toe, but received an edge call on it.
Andrew Gonzales scored 64.31 points, putting him in third place.
Senior Men’s Final Result
Pounding out seven triples, including an Axel and Lutz, Gonzales came back with a vengeance and took the title, scoring 127.25 points for a total score of 191.56 points.
“For two years, I lost what I loved about skating so I sat down with my coach Frank Carroll and discussed it,” said the 19-year-old. “This competition allowed me to get my confidence back. I am so proud of myself. Overall, it was a good program with good choreography and the jumps are coming along nice.”
Not far behind, Johnson landed a triple Lutz-half loop combination for the first time and racked up 123.71 points for his skate to Eleanor Rigby for a total score of 190.06 points.
Rogozine slipped from second place in the short to third place in the free skate with 113.65 points for his program to Tosca giving him a total score of 179.37. Disappointed with his performance last year, Rogozine is gearing up for a good season.
Senior Pairs Short Program
Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch said they were ready and confident for this event, and it showed. The team placed first with 59.47 points with their skate to a waltz with Parisian sounds.
Although the 2011 Canadian champions were antsy, they agreed that they were at their peak performance and glad to get out and compete again.
“Our best element today was our triple twist,” said Moore-Towers. “We spent a lot of time working on it.”
USA’s Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim were right behind with a score of 58.49.
Sliding into third place, USA’s Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier made their debut performance with Malaguena, earning them 50.18 points. Both skaters agreed that their opening twist was their best element.
“When timing is on, we are really good,” offered Denney.
Senior Pairs Free Skate
Moore-Towers and Moscovitch maintained their first place position with their skate to Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, netting a score of 116.67 points.
Coach Kris Wirtz, a two-time Olympic competitor, said, “This is a great start to their season. They work hard, so this was not unexpected. Instead of trotting, it was a good run.”
“Although we are different people, we are on the same page,” added Moscovitch of their partnership. “We work well together and get there by chipping away every day at the big picture.”
Moore-Towers added that they came to Skate Detroit to win. “It was nice, but it wasn’t an easy win.”
Denney and Frazier moved up from third place after the short to place second in the free with 99.90 points.
Scimeca and Knierim earned 98.19 points putting them in third place.
Although Baga and Toth were not visible on the podium for either the short or the free skate, Toth can be seen on billboards in major U.S. cities modeling for Marc Jacobs. While they were stuck in downtown Chicago traffic, Baga just happened to glance up and see Toth bigger than life on a billboard.
“Taylor is such a big deal, he is everywhere,” grinned Baga.