The second day of Skate America began with an era of flappers, war brides, and swing clubs, and today it was all brought to the ice in the form of an Original Dance competition. Competitors were required to choose from rhythms developed in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, and it was an entertaining day of skating for all who were lucky enough to witness it.
Overnight leaders, Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France maintained their lead, and skated a zippy program to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boys by The Andrews Sisters. Portraying an American nurse and a French grandfather at the end of World War II, the World Champions told a story of celebration and newfound youth.
“Isabelle is an American nurse,” explained Schoenfelder. “And I am a French grandfather who are celebrating the liberation. I want to be with the girl, but I can’t keep up. At the end, she has helped me to regain my youth, and I am able to dance once again.”
The program was not without error, however, as Delobel made an uncharacteristic error on the required twizzle sequence.
“I think that I was just too happy with this dance,” smiled Delobel. “It was the first time that we performed it in an international competition, and I got a little bit ahead of myself.”
The program was good enough to keep the French Champions in first place with a segment score of 58.26 points and a competition total of 96.75.
Maintaining their position in second place is the American team of Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto. With a program inspired by tap dancing, the U.S. Champions were a little flat today, and had to settle for third place in the Original Dance. Their combined total of 95.10 easily kept them in the silver medal position.
“It is very exciting for us to be here,” said Agosto. “We have been working very hard the last several months, and we are ready to show everyone that we are ready to compete. We have a lot of things to work on for this season, and this is just the first step.”
Belbin and Agosto’s routine is very reminiscent of their That’s Entertainment program which they skated to two season ago. That program was scrapped mid season in order to pull together a new vehicle that could take them to the next level of their skating.
“I never felt like that program was a failure,” Belbin asserted. “We had all of the pieces of a great program, and perhaps they just weren’t in the right order, or it just wasn’t the right time. I feel like we still have this character in us, and we are excited to bring it to life.”
In third position are the brother-and-sister team of Sinead Kerr and John Kerr of Great Britain. Skating a swing program with perhaps the most energetic presentation of the day, the Scots were able to overtake the Americans in this segment of the competition. However, their total score of 92.11 points was not good enough to move them ahead overall.
“The 1940s and this dance are something that me and John happen to really have an association with,” explained Sinead. “It feels very much like a dance for us as opposed to something like a tango or a Paso doble. We feel like it was just really natural to skate to this kind of music.”
The Kerrs were rewarded with the highest technical marks of the day, earning level four on three of their elements. Only their footwork sequences were not judged at the highest level.
“I think maybe the Technical Caller is being a little bit more strict on the footwork sequences this season,” explained Sinead. “I think that they want more, and that is a good thing. Maybe last year it was too easy to get level four, and this year you are going to have to work very hard.”
Moving into fourth place is the upstart American team of Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, who would have won the event had the crowd had anything to say about it. Skating a fun Swing dance program, the World Junior Champions received high technical marks second only to the Kerrs.
“It is just so energetic, and this original dance allows all of the athletes to give a crowd pleasing performance,” explained Bates. “We just had a really good time.”
Samuelson and Bates danced this program from start to finish, and the elements meshed together so seamlessly that it did not appear to be a competitive program. The team was well rewarded for their efforts, and overtook the French team of Pernelle Carron and Mathieu Jost with a total score of 86.82 points.
Carron and Jost also skated a swing program, but were not as successful as Samuelson and Bates in earning high levels for their elements. However, their total score of 85.00 points kept them firmly in fifth place.
Moving up to sixth place were Russians Ekaterina Rubleva and Ivan Shefer, while Katherine Copely and Deividas Stagniunas of Lithuania struggled and dropped to seventh place. Americans Jane Summersett and Todd Gilles are currently in eighth, followed by Allie Hann-McCurdy and Michael Coreno of Canada.