by Alexandra Stevenson
The Next Generation: Three Talented US Ice Dance Couples Take Silver, Bronze and Sixth Behind Powerful Russia Duo
1. Overall 152.48; 1.SD 63.71 (33.86+29.85); 1.FD 88.77 (43.00+45.77); Anna Yanovskaya & Sergey Mozgov, Russia, are experienced competitors. They teamed up in 2011 after having other partners. This was their third straight Grand Prix Final. They were fourth last year in Sochi, and second the year before in their debut (in where Quebec City). “We wanted so much to do well in the Olympic site last year,” Mozgov said. “Maybe we tried too hard. It was a very disappointing but it made us more determined and we practiced harder.”
They qualified this season by winning both their Grand Prix events, in Slovakia and Estonia. Yanovskaya, who was born in Dubai, turned 17 on November 23, and Mozgov, who is from Moscow, was 18 on October 10th.
In the Short Dance, they gained the maximum Level 4 for second part of the Set Pattern Quickstep, and also for their twizzles and rotational lift. Their non-touching steps and the first section of the Quickstep were Level 3. They performed a Quickstep to Irvine Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, and a Foxtrot to “Fever”.
Their Free, was set to “La Mirta and la Rosa” by Alessandro Safina. (Translated from Italian, the title is “Where the Myrtle and the Rose Bloom.”) They again earned Level 4 for their first element, the twizzles, which one judge honored by giving the maximum +3 Grade of Execution, which was thrown out as the highest award. They also earned Level 4 for their two lifts, a curve done as their second element and a rotational executed at the end before their choreographed section. That lift was rewarded with two +3s from different judges (to the one who was generous with their Twizzles). Their combination spin also got Level 4, while both step sequences were Level 3.
It was a new personal best score. Mozgov said with a smile, “Everything was super, but our performance still wasn’t perfect. There were a few minor glitches. We worked harder on the choreography and on the technique. We gave 200% -300% and so we were able to improve (compared to last year).”
2. Overall 139.42; 2.SD 58.05 (28.93+29.12); 2.FD 81.37 (36.51+44.86); Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker, USA, were a complete contrast to the Russian winners. They have a much softer approach. Baker, whose ideal of an ice dance couple is Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean, was born in the north of England, in Blackburn. He is the son of 4-times British ice dance champion, Sharon Jones and her husband, who was a British pair skater. Dad is a Star Trek fan, which is how his son came to be named Jean-Luc, after the fictional captain of the Star Ship Enterprise.
Jones and her partner, Philip Askew, competed in the 1988 Olympics. Askew is also teaching in the family’s current base near Seattle. The 20-year old Jean-Luc would have had a much easier path into the world championships had he decided to compete for Britain, but he and his parents decided he should represent the country in which he lives.
He had a successful career with Joylyn Wang but she retired, suffering from back problems. His parents sent him East to Detroit to find a partner, and he started skating with the bubbly Hawayek in 2012. She turned 17 on November 4. They are currently training in that mecca of skating, the Detroit SC, with Angelika Krylova and Pasquale Camerlengo. They were runners-up for the Junior title earlier this year at nationals.
They skated their Short Dance in black, presenting a Quickstep “Happy Feet”; a Foxtrot to, “It Had to be You” by Harry Connick, and then went back to a Quickstep to “Sing, Sing, Sing”. They had three different arm positions in their Level 4 twizzles, and their rotational lift was Level 4.
Coming off the ice, Hawayak said, “We were thrilled with today’s performance. It was our best showing this season. It was strong and energetic and we really harnessed the crowd. We put out a solid showing. We did everything that we were supposed to and had a great time out there. We are grateful to the Japanese audience who were very responsive.”
The judges, too, were complementary. For their twizzles they were rewarded with one of the maximum +3 Grade of Execution, seven +2s and one +1. It hardly gets better than that. That was better than the winners. All but one of the 36 GoEs for the other four elements were either +2s or +1s. (The exception was a solitary 0, which still means satisfactory in every aspect.) Collectively, their component marks were only 0.73 behind the winners.
However, while the first part of their Quickstep was Level 3, the second part was only Level 1 and the midline steps Level 2.
It was the same in their Free, for which she wore a dramatic maroon creation, and he was in a tasteful white blouse and grey trousers. They used four pieces of music from the French movie, “Amelie” and opened their presentation with a stunning Level 4 curve lift which earned three of the maximum +3 Grades of Execution. The other six judges gave the next step down, +2, which is still huge.
While none of the GoEs given by the judges for Hawayek & Baker’s Free were less than +1, they only received one other Level 4, from the Technical Panel, which was for their combination spin. Their straight line lift was Level 3. Their twizzles, which had earned Level 4 the day before, were given Level 2, as were their circular and their diagonal steps. Their rotational lift was only Level 1, though it received five +2s and four +1s from the judging panel.
Hawayek & Baker were merely a sliver (0.62) ahead of the bronze medal winners overall. Their element score in the Free was just fourth best, although the difference between second and fourth in this category was only 2.36. However, Hawayek & Baker were a mere 0.91 behind the gold medalists on the component score and a significant 2.96 ahead of McNamara. Baker added, “We skated from the heart and gave every ounce of energy we had, and that’s the most important thing.”
class="style2">The Technical Controller was Halina Gordan Poltorak. The Technical Specialist was Ayako Higashino and the Technical Assistant was Maria Tumanovskaya.
3. Overall 135.89; 3.SD 55.14 (28.63+26.51); 3.FD 80.75 (38.87+41.88); Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter, USA, train at the Wheaton Academy in Maryland. She is 14 and he 17. They have won bronze in the U.S. championships at Junior level for the past two seasons. McNamara explained why the Academy is so successful. “They have professionals from all over the world, particular from Russia, so they can teach us what made that country and those skaters successful. Some of them have toured in ice shows around the world, and show us how to present ourselves. We all work together.”
For their SD they presented a Foxtrot and a Quickstep to “Bublichki” performed by the Barry Sisters. Quinn said, “Our music (for the SD) contains Yiddish songs. We wanted something traditional with some interesting twist, and that’s why we chose this. We really enjoyed working on it.”
Their element score was only 0.30 behind Hawayek & Baker. Those who attend the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships held yearly in late July or early August, have watched the development of the Wheaton Academy, as their pupils painstakingly have climbed the ladder of success.
They presented skated their Free to music “Sherlock Holmes” with McNamara in a rather bulky dress, representing the fashion of that period. They were rewarded with the maximum Level 4 for their three lifts, the combination spin and the twizzles, earning just below their season’s best. “We felt great to have placed at this competition, especially since it’s our first Junior Grand Prix final and only our second year on the circuit. Quinn and I were both able to watch both events for the senior dance. We definitely were able to learn from their confidence, the confidence they put out on the ice and how powerful they are.”
The top three couples were asked about their twizzles. Yanovskaya admitted, “Yes, the twizzles are difficult and I practice them a lot. Sometime I’m scared of them because they feel dangerous. It takes time to learn them. I think every skater feels this danger and has difficulty.”
Baker added, “The twizzles are difficult, but we enjoy them. I also think the footwork is very difficult. It is needed to show quality edge work. The audiences like the lifts but everyone can lift. In dance you need to have a connection with your partner and the important part is how a duo inter-react and how they perform and reach the audience.”
McNamara agreed, “The twizzles are definitely difficult but they make you feel great about it when you’ve done them right. It needs a lot of concentration and confidence to go into them. Her partner added, “Twizzles are very expressive and entertaining.” She also said, because they were the last event, doing their Short Programs on Saturday, then their Frees right before the Sunday’s Exhibition Practice, that they’d had time to watch the seniors both practice and compete. “Watching senior teams in dance, especially, is really inspiring – just to see the confidence and presence they have on the ice. We like that the top two have completely different styles. We’ve been following them since the last Olympics. Of course, seeing them live is even better.”
4. Overall 129.47; 4.SD 52.50 (26.36+26.14); 4.FD 76.97 (37.50+39.47); Betina Popova, who is 17, & Yuri Vlasenko, 19, Russia, have been together for six years. He was born in Kharkov, in Ukraine and she in Vladivostok, but they now live in Moscow. They said this event had been a great experience for them and they were pleased to do clean programs. She explained, “Our next goal is to qualify for the World Junior Championships. In the beginning of this season we didn’t know if we would make the Final.” They did so by placing second in the JrGP in Minski in Belarus, and winning in Ostrava in the Czech Republic.
They performed their Quickstep in the Short Dance to “Jumpin’ Jack” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and a Foxtrot to “Dream a Little Dream of Me” performed by Doris Day. Their Free was set to Khatchaturian’s music for the ballet, Spartacus.
5. Overall 123.17; 5.SD 51.32 (25.21+26.11); 5.FD 71.85 (33.76+39.09 -1); Alexandra Nazarova & Maxim Nikitin, Ukraine, who qualified for this event by taking silver in the Polish and Estonian Junior Grand Prix events, admitted they made some mistakes, particularly the twizzles in the Free. “It was better in the Short Dance.” In the SD, they performed a Quickstep to “Man with the Hex” by the Atomic Fireballs, and a Foxtrot to Kurt Weill’s “Mack, the Knife”. Their free was to music from the show, Cabaret. She just turned 17 at the end of November and he was 19 in October.
6. Overall 116.60; 6.SD 22.93 (22.93+24.18 -1); 6.FD 70.49 (33.43+37.06); Rachel & Michael Parsons, USA, were delighted to make the Final out of a huge number of talented duos from around the world who took part in the Jr Grand Prix. They are a brother and sister from Rockville, MD. Earlier in their careers they had other partners but decided in 2010 to compete together. They won entry into the Final by placing second in both of their assignments, in Kosice and Ostrava.
Their Short Dance was a Quickstep to Foxtrot to Quickstep set to the overture to “Funny Girl” by Jul Stein. Rachel, who is 16, explained, “The first half was pretty strong but we got a little sloppy at the end. For tomorrow we will stay calm and centered and not let today’s performance affect what we are going to do tomorrow.”
Michael, 18, elaborated, “We ran into each other on the twizzle. We just got too close. We will try not to let that happen again. For their Free, they used music from the soundtrack of “New Moon” by Alexandre Desplat, and “Time Back” by Bad Style.
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