2018 U.S. Nationals: Intermediate events

Posted by unseenskaters on December 31, 2017

INTERMEDIATE EVENT ARTICLES & PHOTOS (links will open a new window):
Intermediate Short Programs recap article by Michael Terry

The opening day of the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships took place Friday in San Jose, California, with skaters and teams on the intermediate level placing themselves in podium position entering their respective free skates. In the ladies discipline, Indi Cha owns a slim lead over Arianna Concepcion, while Maxim Zharkov paces the men’s field, and Zoe Larson and Nick Hubbart hold the pairs advantage.
Intermediate Ladies
Cha’s first-time jitters appeared to disappear thanks to her impressive display Friday in San Jose. The talented Skating Club of Boston representative dazzled the crowd to take a slim lead in her second straight appearance at the U.S. Championships.
“Last year, I was really nervous and kind of got in my head a little too much,” Cha said of her ninth-place finish in the juvenile ladies competition last year. “This year, I feel like I’ve got it down.”
Coming off a win at both the New England Regional Championships and Eastern Sectional Championships, Cha’s confidence is well earned. She opened her Spirited Away short program with a solid triple flip-double toe loop combination, while also delivering a sound triple loop, double axel and two Level 4 spins for a segment score of 47.28.
Arianna Concepcion of the Colonial FSC sits a mere 0.21 points behind Cha, while Alyssa Chan of the Dallas Figure Skating Club stands in third with 45.98 points. Skating Club of Oregon’s Alena Budko rounds out the top four with 43.96 points.
Intermediate Men’s
Zharkov (Dallas FSC) accrued 45.67 points for his short program, which was set to “Yablochko” by Reinhold Glière. Landing four jumps in his program — including an opening triple lutz-double toe loop — Zharkov also garnered Level 4 grading for his spin, which helped him secure more than a two-point lead entering Saturday’s free skate.
“It was pretty good, I guess,” Zharkov said shortly after completing his program. “I’m feeling really confident heading into [tomorrow’s free skate].”
Matthew Nielsen of the Strongsville SC slotted into second place after earning 43.22 points for his Maroon 5 short program, one that included an opening triple salchow as well as a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination.
Wenatchee FSC’s Liam Kapeikis is in third place with 41.28 points, with Joseph Klein (Skokie Valley SC) sitting fourth with 41.26 points. The top six skaters in the intermediate men’s field are all within six points of the leader.
Intermediate Pairs
Larson and Hubbart lead the way with 39.27 points after their Once Upon a Time in Mexico short program proved strong enough for the top marks in the discipline. Perhaps most impressive, however, is that the pair will take a 0.85-point lead into Saturday’s free skate in just their second competition as a team.
“We teamed up in August, so everything’s been a little bit rushed for us,” Larson said. “This is shocking, definitely, but we’re excited.”
The Champions’ Edge Skating Club representatives, who placed second at the Eastern Sectional Championships, received Level 4 grading for their final two elements — a pairs spin and group four pairs lift — but it was their program component score of 18.86 that provided separation from the rest of the field.
Cate Fleming and Jedidiah Isbell (SC of Boston) earned the highest TES of the day, bagging 20.51 points for side-by-side double lutzes, while also executing six elements free of negative GOEs. Their energetic swing performance showed impressive speed, helping to place the eastern sectional gold medalists less than one point out of first with a segment mark of 38.42.
Katie Luong and Nathan Luong of the San Diego FSC hold the third spot with 31.38 points, while Sydney Flaum (Broadmoor SC) and Cayden McKenzie-Cook (Orange County FSC) find themselves in fourth place with 26.05 points.

Intermediate Ladies/Men/Pairs medalists’ recap article by U.S. Figure Skating

Indi Cha, Maxim Zharkov, and Zoe Larson and Nick Hubbart won intermediate titles on the second day of competition at the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, California.
Intermediate Ladies
Cha is bringing a gold medal back to the Skating Club of Boston — and she’s doing it while brimming with joy.
“I’m so happy. I feel like it’s a great way to end the season,” said the newly minted U.S. intermediate ladies champion, still beaming after hearing her title-clinching scores: 84.45 for her La La Land free skate and 131.73 overall. “It was a day to remember, for sure.”
Cha smiled on the ice as she landed three triple jumps and seven doubles, and completed two Level 4 spins.
“The whole time, I was just like, ‘Breathe, Indi. Just breathe. Keep going. It’s not over until it’s over,'” she said.
Alyssa Chan (Dallas FSC) finished third in both the short program and the free skate, but with a total score of 128.31, she won the silver medal in her first trip to the U.S. championships.
Arianna Concepcion, runner-up in the short program, faltered in her Charlie Chaplin free skate, singling an intended triple toe and missing a double loop at the end of a planned three-jump combination. However, with the highest program component mark of the night (37.94), Concepcion hung on to claim bronze with 126.24 total points.
SC of Oregon’s Alena Budko won the pewter (124.64 points).
Intermediate Men’s
Zharkov ran away with his first U.S. title by a whopping 12.67 points Saturday night at Solar4America Ice.
“It feels pretty good,” Zharkov said. “I felt a little shaky (during the free skate) but more confident than nervous.”
Zharkov’s 2.45-point lead after the short program served as a confidence booster heading into the free skate. Performing to “Carmen Suite,” the Dallas Figure Skating Club representative earned 85.15 points on the day, thanks in large part to the four triple jumps and two double axels he landed. He finished the competition with 130.82 points.
Strongsville SC’s Matthew Nielsen overcame a fall in his contemporary free skate to Sam Smith’s “Writing on the Wall” to hold onto second place with a total of 118.15.
Liam Kapeikis (Wenatchee FSC) finished third with 116.91 points, while William Annis of Yarmouth Ice Club rallied from sixth place after the short to clinch the pewter with a total of 116.85.
Intermediate Pairs
Larson and Hubbart rose to the top of the national standings after being together for just four months.
Teaming up at the end of August, the pair gelled quickly under the direction of their coaching team in Wesley Chapel, Florida: Silvia Fontana, John Zimmerman and Jeremy Barrett, all national titlists and Olympians in their own competitive careers.
“We definitely owe what we’re able to do to our work off ice,” Larson said. “John Zimmerman and Jeremy Barrett’s off-ice classes are brutal, but they pay off.”
Skating their free skate to music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, the duo commanded the ice, rising to the demands of the powerful score that was further enhanced by a French composer who helped create this particular rendition. With two clean throws and three Level 4 elements, they earned a personal-best segment score of 73.28.
“That’s just crazy, for us and for intermediate,” Larson said. “A 73? We’re thrilled.”
Bringing a 0.85-point lead into the free skate, the Floridians held on to the top spot by an even slimmer margin, finishing the competition with 112.55 points — just 0.27 ahead of silver medalists Cate Fleming and Jedidiah Isbell, who won the free skate with a score of 73.86.
Fleming and Isbell, who placed seventh in this event last season, grabbed the silver medal with a strong yet effortless skate that perfectly matched their music, a piece of Gregorian chant called “Now We Are Free.” They received positive Grades of Execution on nine of their 10 elements, and they finished the week with 112.28 points.
Katie Luong and Nathan Luong took home bronze, a marked improvement from their ninth-place finish in the event last season. They earned 60.94 points for their free skate, which included side-by-side double lutz-double toe combinations, and 92.32 points overall.
Sydney Flaum and Cayden McKenzie-Cook held onto fourth place with a segment score of 51.61, bringing their overall total to 77.66.

San Jose Mercury News Intermediates article (focus on Kate Wang, Ava Stephens)
ClevelandSkating.com’s Jan. 4th article on Intermediate Men’s silver medalist Matthew Nielsen
Intermediate Ladies/Men/Pairs action & podium photos
Intermediate Pattern Dances recap article by Lynn Rutherford for IceNetwork

As intermediate ice dancers presented their tango and Fourteenstep pattern dances in San Jose on Monday, the talk was all about key points — the prescribed turns, edges and steps technical panels review when awarding levels.
And how to balance the intense focus on those specific movements, while still expressing the character of the dances, is the challenge.
“You spend a lot of time in this judging system trying to get the calls so the technical specialist gives the points, but you don’t want to lose the ice dance aspect of it,” said coach Robert Peal, whose children, Elliana and Ethan, placed third.
Andrei Davydov, who leads the event with partner Claire Cain, thinks it’s all a matter of repetition.
“At a certain point, it becomes muscle memory to do the key points, and once that’s done, you can only focus on expression,” Davydov said. “That’s the best way to get the most points possible.”
Cain and Davydov, who train at Maryland’s Wheaton Ice Skating Academy (WISA), were first in the tango and second in the Fourteenstep, which they inventively skated to an instrumental version of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” Their combined 47.49 points gave them a 1.61-point lead heading into the free dance.
“We really tried to get our key points, and tried to get our expression at the same time, so we could perform to the audience,” Cain said.
“The tango went very well; we got almost all of our key points,” Davydov said. “We are a little upset didn’t get one of the mohawk (steps).”
As usual, WISA is well represented at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, with ice dance couples at all levels of competition — so many, in fact, that Cain and Davydov have lost count.
“There are three juvenile couples, one intermediate couple, which is us, two novice couples…,” Davydov said.
“There’s a ton junior,” Cain added. (Five junior WISA teams will compete in San Jose.)
“…and two seniors,” Davydov continued. “It’s really nice to work with them. We get to look at people at higher levels than us and say, ‘I really like that,’ and add the moves to our own dances.”
Anna Gissibl and Alexander Colucci placed second in the tango and first in the Fourteenstep to take second place with 45.88 points.
“The first pattern of the tango was good, but I rushed my key point in the second one a little bit,” Colucci said.
“We had good flow in the Fourteenstep,” Gissibl said.
The couple, who train under Slava Uchitel in Philadelphia, teamed up last May. They aspire to someday compete as seniors at the U.S. championships.
“Our goal is to see it through together to the end,” Colucci said.
The Peal siblings, who are based in the Chicago area, ranked third in both pattern dances and enter the free dance with 43.61 points. Their Fourteenstep, set to a patriotic march, was especially light and lively.
“I enjoy the Fourteenstep a little more than the tango,” Elliana said. “I can get more expression out of it, and more speed and energy.”
“Key points are a big part of the dance, and we try to balance it out without losing the artistry,” Ethan said. “We work a lot on trying to get the calls and still enjoy the dance.”
Nastia Efimova and Jonathan Zhao were fourth in both pattern dances and earned 40.00 points.

Intermediate Free Dance [by Elvin Walker for IceNetwork]
Tuesday was a big day for the Peal family.
Robert Peal, the 1991 U.S. junior ice dance champion, witnessed his children, Elliana and Ethan — whom he also coaches — capture a title of their own: the 2018 U.S. intermediate dance crown.
“This was by far more difficult than competing myself,” the Peal family patriarch said. “I’ve been teaching them for years, and my heart is almost literally beating out of my chest when they compete. I can’t do anything to help them when they are out there. They are all on their own.”
Fortunately for their dad, Peal’s offspring were up to the challenge today. Elliana and Ethan turned in a tongue-in-cheek performance to music by Harry Belafonte, making full use of the playful Calypso rhythm and lyrics.
“That was amazing,” Ethan said. “I’m in shock. It’s nice to have moments like this and to really enjoy them.”
Peal and Peal earned Level 4’s on all but one element, the diagonal step sequence, and finished the free dance with 52.40 points. Their total competition score of 96.01 was almost four and a half points more than that of the silver medalists, Claire Cain and Andrei Davydov.
“All of our hard work throughout the year paid off today,” Elliana said through a large smile. “It’s nice to know that it’s all worthwhile.”
Cain and Davydov slipped from atop the leaderboard to finish in second place after a disappointing free dance to music by Secret Garden.
“Our expression and skating skills were good, but we were a little off,” Cain explained. “We usually don’t do that bad in practice, even if we do make mistakes once in a while.”
The duo made miscues on their combination spin and twizzles, leaving the door open for Peal and Peal to take the title.
“It was good for the most part, but we messed up a few elements,” Davydov conceded. “We touched down on the transition of the spin, and I stumbled on the twizzles.”
Cain and Davydov had the fourth-best free dance of the competition, earning 44.10 points, and finished with 91.59 points overall.
Finishing with the bronze medals were Anna Gissibl and Alexander Colucci, who skated a lively number to music from the musical Hairspray.
“I feel good right now,” Colucci said. “I bobbled the twizzles, and I think that was because I was nervous, but otherwise I felt like it was a strong performance.”
Despite the error on the twizzles, Gissibl and Colucci still earned 44.86 points for their program, and 90.74 points overall.
Nastia Efimova and Jonathan Zhao placed second in the free dance but could not overcome the deficit they faced from the pattern dances earlier in the week and finished fourth.

Intermediate Dance action & podium photos

GOLD – Indi Cha, SC of Boston 47.28 (1) 84.45 (1) 131.73
SILVER – Alyssa Chan, Dallas FSC 45.98 (3) 82.33 (3) 128.31
BRONZE – Arianna Concepcion, Colonial FSC 47.07 (2) 79.17 (5) 126.24
PEWTER – Alena Budko, SC of Oregon 43.96 (4) 80.68 (4) 124.64

5 Kate Wang, SC of San Francisco 40.17 (7) 82.98 (2) 123.15 (skated 1st & landed two triple Lutzes in FS)
6 Samantha Liker, DuPage FSC 39.55 (8) 70.60 (7) 110.15
7 Ava Stephens, Peninsula SC 32.75 (11) 72.36 (6) 105.11
8 Courtney Phillips, All Year FSC 37.83 (9) 64.91 (8) 102.74
9 Emily Zhang, SC of New York, Inc. New York, NY 42.10 (5) 60.56 (10) 102.66
10 Haley Scott, First Coast FSC 36.40 (10) 64.15 (9) 100.55
11 Ava Raiter, Broadmoor SC 40.82 (6) 54.68 (11) 95.50
WD (after SP) Isabelle Inthisone, DuPage FSC 26.80 (12)
[SP protocols are linked from here] | [FS protocols are linked from here]

GOLD – Maxim Zharkov, Dallas FSC 45.67 (1) 85.15 (1) 130.82
SILVER – Matthew Nielsen, Strongsville SC 43.22 (2) 74.93 (4) 118.15
BRONZE – Liam Kapeikis, Wenatchee FSC 41.28 (3) 75.63 (3) 116.91
PEWTER – William Annis, Yarmouth Ice Club 40.38 (6) 76.47 (2) 116.85
5 Zachary Yaninek, Hershey FSC 40.56 (5) 69.60 (5) 110.16
6 Joseph Klein, Skokie Valley SC 41.26 (4) 68.63 (6) 109.89
7 Daniel Tioumentsev, Albuquerque FSC 36.89 (8) 61.18 (7) 98.07
8 Samir Mallya, Los Angeles FSC 37.23 (7) 59.54 (8) 96.77
9 Robert Yampolsky, North Jersey FSC 36.32 (9) 55.99 (9) 92.31
10 Lawrence Winters, Wasatch FSC 31.16 (11) 53.49 (10) 84.65
11 Haydn Gock, Princeton SC 31.51 (10) 48.81 (11) 80.32
12 Ian Ramsey, Peninsula SC 28.45 (12) 48.00 (12) 76.45
[SP protocols are linked from here] | [FS protocols are linked from here]

GOLD – Zoe Larson, Champions’ Edge SC / Nick Hubbart, Champions’ Edge SC 39.27 (1 SP) 73.28 (2 FS) 112.55 (Total)
SILVER – Cate Fleming, SC of Boston / Jedidiah Isbell, SC of Boston 38.42 (2) 73.86 (1) 112.28
BRONZE – Katie Luong, San Diego FSC / Nathan Luong, San Diego FSC 31.38 (3) 60.94 (3) 92.32
PEWTER – Sydney Flaum, Broadmoor SC / Cayden McKenzie-Cook, Orange County FSC 26.05 (4) 51.61 (4) 77.66

5 Anastasia Lestina, Pittsburgh FSC / Benjamin McLemore, Pittsburgh FSC 25.02 (6) 47.46 (5) 72.48
6 Kayla Black, Seattle SC / Kamden Black, Seattle SC 25.73 (5) 45.65 (6) 71.38
7 Carolyn Bartel, Los Angeles FSC / Alfred Bartel, Los Angeles FSC 21.12 (8) 38.27 (7) 59.39
8 Emerson Stein, Los Angeles FSC / Blake Edwards, All Year FSC 21.17 (7) 38.20 (8) 59.37
[SP protocols are linked from here] | [FS protocols are linked from here]

INTERMEDIATE DANCE (Pattern Dances on Mon. 1/1/18; Free Dance on Tue. 1/2/18)
GOLD – Elliana Peal / Ethan Peal, both Skokie Valley SC 43.61 (3) 52.40 (1) 96.01
SILVER – Claire Cain / Andrei Davydov, both Washington FSC 47.49 (1) 44.10 (4) 91.59
BRONZE – Anna Gissibl, Philadelphia SC & HS / Alexander Colucci, Peninsula SC 45.88 (2) 44.86 (3) 90.74
PEWTER – Nastia Efimova / Jonathan Zhao, both Triangle FSC 40.00 (4) 46.48 (2) 86.48

5 Maria Brown / Marius Driscoll, both Pavilion SC of Cleveland Heights 38.50 (5) 40.18 (8) 78.68
6 Alexandra Johnston / Maxim Zharkov, both Dallas FSC 35.53 (7) 42.33 (5) 77.86
7 Sabrina Foti, All Year FSC / Christian Bennett, FSC of Charlotte 35.86 (6) 40.77 (6) 76.63
8 Kelsey Schaub, IceWorks SC / Anthony Haddad, All Year FSC (8) 35.12 40.64 (7) 75.76
9 Hope Noelle Lassiter, Lone Star FSC / Luke Anderson, St. Peters FSA 29.12 (9) 33.57 (9) 62.69
10 Raffaella Koncius, Kent Valley FSC / Dane Ayers, Coyotes SC of Arizona 26.31 (10) 27.85 (11) 54.16
11 Isabella Alexis, Arctic FSC / Ethan Alday, All Year FSC 22.89 (11) 30.19 (10) 53.08
[Visit Ice-Dance.com for team profiles]


Zachary Yaninek (CBS Harrisburg PA article)
Liam Kapeikis (iFiberOne Columbia Basin WA news)
Haydn Gock (Princeton NJ Packet)
Ava Stephens (San Jose CA Mercury News)
Arianna Concepcion (Lowell Mass. Sun)
Isabelle Inthisone (Little Laos on the Prairie blog)

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