2000 Skate Detroit

Senior Men

There was an exceptionally strong men's field at this event, for a summer competition, and it was certainly the main draw for spectators, so I'll give fairly detailed results on all the competitors, starting with the short programs.

Matt Savoie (1): jazzy music with a beat. Triple axel, triple flip/double toe combination, hydroblading into triple lutz. The new program is a bit more lively and energetic than last year's. Unanamous first-place ordinals, but he really needs to do a triple/triple to be competitive internationally.

Ryan Jahnke (2): "Take Five". Triple axel landed on the wrong foot, triple lutz/triple toe with hands down, probably got a deduction for tapping his free foot on the spin entered from a butterfly, free foot also appeared to brush the ice on the triple flip. It's a terrific program, but he was lucky to take second with so many mistakes (ordinals were all mixed up between Jahnke, Okazaki, and Bradley).

Makoto Okazaki (3): "Robin Hood". Fell on triple axel that was supposed to be his combination (we saw him land one in warmup), landed triple lutz very close to boards, double axel.

Ryan Bradley (4): "Dance of the Buffoons/Tumblers/whatever" from Rimsky-Korsakov's "Snow Maiden". Fell on triple axel attempt that was not at all close (leaning in the air, underrotated) , triple flip barely hung on to landing, triple lutz/double toe.

Danny Clausen (5): "When a Man Loves a Woman". Big splat on axel, triple flip/triple toe with another fall, double lutz from footwork.

Daniel Lee (6): Santana. Popped flip out of footwork, two-footed triple axel/double toe. He must have done a double axel, but I didn't write it down. Nice spins.

Eric Schroyer (7): Dancy latin program. Triple lutz with a double three on the landing into a double toe, steps into double flip, double axel. Technique on his axel leaves a lot to be desired as he didn't bring his free leg through. He really sold this program, though, and when the results came up some of us were surprised that he didn't place higher.

Kurt Fromknecht (8): last year's "Money" program. Double flip with hand down, fall on triple axel attempt, popped lutz. I think the flip was supposed to be his combination.

James Yoo (9): Jazz. Fell on triple flip, double axel, almost ran into boards on straight-line footwork, double lutz.

Jason Heffron (10): "Two Guitars". Fell on triple flip, dropped out of double axel, fell on triple lutz, lost control on flying sitspin at end of program and finished well behind his music.

Todd Eldredge had entered this event but apparently made the decision not to compete at least 3 weeks ago. I'm told he has been too busy running around attending weddings and golf tournaments this summer to be ready to compete this early in the season.

On to the senior men's free skate. James Yoo and Kurt Fromknecht both withdrew after the short so we were down to a field of 8.

Matt Savoie (1): Gershwin Concerto in F, dressed in formal attire in black, white, and grey. Opened with a back split jump into a triple salchow, triple axel. Then edgy steps, a triple toe, butterfly into a back sit spin, triple flip/triple toe, triple loop, more edgy steps, spread eagles into a popped axel, flying camel with a layover position, straight steps, hydroblading into a double lutz, spin combination. Looks like Matt is still having problems with stamina and/or maintaining his concentration at the end of his program. I assume he must be planning to do a quad toe where the solo triple is now, at the beginning of the program, but I did not see him attempting one in either of the practices I watched.

Maybe I will change my mind as the season progresses, but I don't think I like this program quite as much as the one Matt did last year; it doesn't have as distinctive of a character, and frankly I don't know if trying to be sophisticated really suits Matt.

Makoto Okazaki (2): unknown music, brown outfit. Triple axel with a double three on the landing, popped toe loop, triple lutz, a spin, triple axel/double toe, flying camel, fall on triple flip, double salchow, straight steps, stepped out of triple loop, triple toe/double toe, death drop. His program and choreography seemed kind of blah to me. He was the last skater, and it was pretty obvious from his content where he was going to place -- the numerous mistakes put him behind Matt, and the triple axels put him ahead of everyone else.

Ryan Bradley (3): William Tell, lace-up vest over a white shirt. Triple flip/triple toe with a fall, popped axel, weird jump (some sort of stag leap?) into a triple lutz/double toe, death drop, triple salchow. I noted that he was skating very cautiously at this point in his program. Double loop, flying camel, fast steps that he had fun with, another popped axel, more fun with a fast straight-line footwork section, a spin combination that was far too slow to go with the music, a walley/reverse walley/triple lutz combination with the lutz landed on two feet, a fall on a triple axel attempt (well, at least he was finally able to rotate one), spin combination entered from a butterfly. I thought that, except for the two footwork sequences, Ryan spent too much time skating "through" the music, and that his movements didn't match either the tempo or phrasing of the music.

Ryan Jahnke (4): Indian sitar music in a dark reddish-brown outfit with a bit of gold trim. Triple axel with a two-footed landing, spectacular spread eagle, a section of posing and slow edgy footwork in front of the judges. Triple lutz with a wild landing, flying sit spin, triple flip. Then a Grafstrom spin (camel spin on a bent leg) stepping out of it directly into a section of footwork done on one foot. After this, a triple salchow/double loop combination, double axel, death drop, footwork into a triple lutz with a hard fall, which threw off his timing enough that after he scrambled back up to his feet he rushed the entry into the triple toe loop which followed, and fell again. Change-foot camel, then a fast circular step sequence to end the program. This was not a good skate in terms of his jumps, but when the results were posted, it seemed many people (not me) were surprised to see him behind Ryan Bradley because Jahnke's program was so much stronger. I assumed that the judges would just count triples, and they did -- Bradley landed 4 to Jahnke's 3. But from my personal point of view, I found this program a treat in spite of the jump errors, and I'm excited to see a skater really going after the second mark.

Danny Clausen (5): Italian medley including a rip-off of Dan Hollander's "Barber of Seville" program. Costume was a burgundy vest over a cream shirt. Double axel, triple flip with a hand down in combination with a triple toe, which he fell on. 'Tano triple lutz landed in an awkard lunge position. A spin of some sort followed by a triple toe, and a spin combination. Much miming and posing in place, followed by a section of spirals, etc, then triple loop, a change-foot sit spin, a double something or another, a popped lutz, more mime, a section of very fast straight-line steps, and ending with a flying sit spin.

Daniel Lee (6): "Todd music" -- all those bombastic movie scores sound the same to me, but I think this one must have been "First Knight", judging from the costume, which was a black vest with a maltese cross on it over a gray shaded shirt. Fall on triple loop, fall on triple axel attempt, flying camel, double something (flip or lutz, I think), triple toe with a wild landing, triple loop with a wild landing, spin combination, popped lutz, spread eagle and spiral into a triple salchow, sit spin, another spread eagle, triple toe/double toe, butterfly into a back sit spin. Looking at the jumps actually landed, I think Daniel must have been placed behind Danny simply because this program really seemed lifeless. I don't think this music is particularly skateable, and Daniel isn't able to make it work for him the way Todd did.

Incidentally, I thought Daniel's triple axel attempts in Detroit, both in competition and in practice, were at least as good as those I saw from either of the Ryans. I don't know how whether Daniel is actually landing any in practice at the Broadmoor, but I have heard (and from more than one source) that Ryan Jahnke is landing them with some regularity now, and that Ryan Bradley's comes and goes.

Eric Schroyer (7): "Rocketeer" in a brown outfit. Double lutz/double toe, triple flip, flying camel, double toe, triple something (toe loop?) with a fall, double loop, spin combination, single axel into a double axel(?) with a step-out, circular steps, camel spin, straight-line steps, double flip/double toe, death drop.

Jason Heffron (8): "Henry V" in a gold shirt. Double lutz, triple flip with a wild landing, double salchow, spin combination, popped toe loop, flying camel, double axel, change-foot camel, footwork into a triple lutz, serpentine steps, popped jump (a salchow?), circular steps, change sit spin. I thought his music ended with a strange cut; it just sort of trailed off without reaching any kind of conclusion.

Senior Ladies

I don't have too much to say about the senior ladies. Quite a few of the skaters who had entered, including Stacey Pensgen, withdrew, leaving so few competitors that they might have done away with the qualifying groups and have them all skate together (but they didn't). It was clear from the qualifying that Elizabeth Kwon and Carina Chen were the class of the competition, and beyond that the field was pretty weak.

I was distracted and missed the first half of Kwon's free skate, but she landed four triples in the second half and it was obvious she was going to win. I guess she fell on the lutz at the beginning and also missed the flip. She wasn't having much luck with the lutz in practice, either, taking a lot of hard falls. She's now being coached by Carol Heiss Jenkins -- it remains to be seen whether this is a good move or not.

Chen also skated an ambitious program with 6 triples attempted, but my notes are that she two-footed the landings of all of them except the opening triple salchow. She's skating to the Saint-Saens "Rondo Cappricioso".

I didn't see the final placements, but I'm guessing that third and fourth places went to Natalie Bonati and Leslie Podmenik-Blais, in some order. They each landed two triples. Podmenik-Blais had several errors on jumps in her program but overall I thought she was one of the few skaters in this event who really looked comfortable with her program and the elements she was attempting. I also noted that her short had a lot of difficult connecting steps throughout the entire program.

Junior Men

There was something of an upset in the junior men's short program, which was won by Dusty Brinsmade. This was made possible when Parker Pennington fell on his butt on his triple flip and also did only a single toe loop on the end of his combination. Brinsmade did a triple toe/triple toe for his combination, which was two footed on the back half, and only a double flip, but the thing that really helped pull him up was the program itself -- it was a particularly effective version of "The Mission". He's being coached by Diana Ronayne, who told me the program was originally choreographed for him by Peter Tchernyshev, and that Tom Dickson has also been working with him on it.

Ben Zumsteg was third in the short with a triple toe/double toe combination, and Scott Corbin was fourth with a triple salchow/double toe. Both of those guys also only did a double flip instead of a triple. Rusty Fein tried a triple but stepped out of it, and also popped the triple lutz in his combination, so he wound up 5th.

Parker Pennington's long program was really the highlight of the whole competition, in my opinion. I thought it was the same program he skated at Nationals -- the costume is the same, anyway -- but I'm now told it's a new program choreographed for him by Nathan Birch. The music isn't distinctive enough to identify or even stick in my mind. He did triple lutz/triple toe, triple flip/triple toe that may have been lightly two-footed, fall on a triple axel attempt, triple salchow, triple lutz, and triple loop. Good spins, and he looked confident and comfortable with his program. Incidentally, I spoke with Carol Heiss Jenkins afterwards, and she said that they had talked about Parker moving up to senior when they found out that Evan Lysacek did, but she thinks he's probably going to stay junior after all.

Dusty Brinsmade's free skate wasn't up to the same level as his short, as he fell on the back half of his triple toe/triple toe this time, but he did land two other clean triples. Program was "Lawrence of Arabia" skated in a bright blue outfit.

Rusty Fein started out strong, landing a triple loop and lutz, but then started making mistakes, putting a hand down on a triple flip, popping another lutz, then managing a triple toe/double toe combination before doing a double salchow and double flip (or toe?) -- I'm sure the salchow, at least, was intended to be a triple. This wound up being good enough for second in the long and third overall, but it looks like he needs to work more on building stamina. His music was a mishmash of Prokofiev's "Romeo & Juliet", the Albinoni Adagio, and "Danse Macabre".

Ben Zumsteg had a lot of jump problems in his free skate and failed to land a clean triple. It is too bad because I really like the "look" of this skater. He has excellent posture and carriage, with a strong, straight back. I also liked his choice of music ("Finlandia") and thought he had a clue about interpreting his choreography. He wound up 5th in the long and 4th overall.

Scott Corbin unfortunately self-destructed with multiple falls. Again it's too bad, because he skated with a lot of speed and strong edges, and had good footwork and pretty decent presentation skills. His program was "Zorro", and I heard some people sitting behind me chuckling again over the three junior ladies in a row skating to this music at Nationals last year. I think it's a mistake for *anybody* to use this music again for a while.

Junior Ladies

I only saw the final round for the junior ladies -- no short programs. I must have been ready for a nap when it was taking place because I don't have any strong memories of any of the competitors' performances.

According to my notes, Alissa Czisny won with a program that included a clean triple flip but two falls on triple lutz attempts. The only other triple she attempted was a toe loop, which was cleanly landed. I noted that she is a lefty jumper and is very flexible, doing a Biellmann spin and spirals with a nearly 180-degree split.

Interestingly enough, Lisa Horstman, who placed second, is also a lefty. According to my notes, her only clean triple was a triple toe in combination with a double toe, although she came pretty close on a triple lutz attempt (it was two-footed). She fell on her other two triple attempts (salchow and toe loop). I noted that she opened her program with camel spins in opposite directions.

Third place went to Lindsey Weber, who managed a triple flip/double toe combination and a triple salchow. I suppose that the reason why she did not place higher is that she fell on her double axel.

Amber Czisny finished fourth. According to my notes, she didn't land any triples at all cleanly, but maybe I missed something. A number of the girls who placed below her landed at least one triple -- Kristin Roth (5th) had a triple salchow as well as a particularly strong double axel/double toe combination, for instance.

Novice Men

For the novice men, Colin Pennington was an easy winner in both the short and long programs. In the short he landed triple loop/double toe as his combination, and in the long he did the triple loop again along with two triple salchows. I guess he has a little way to go to catch up to his brother's record of "five triple axels" in his free skate (at least as reported in one of the Philadelphia newspapers during 1998 Nationals), but he's doing very well for himself. I can't say I like the nasty twisted entries to his axel and lutz, though. It seems that nearly all of Carol Heiss Jenkins's students do them that way.

The other skater in the event who I thought stood out from the rest was R.J. Westfall. I don't believe I caught his short program (I came in a bit late to that event), and in his long program he did not land so many jumps as some of the other boys, but the program was packed with good footwork and connecting elements, and his spins were also far superior to his jumps. I'm glad to see that the judges gave credit to that by placing him 3rd.

Rounding out the top 5, Evan Gibbs was 2nd, Jeremy Abbott 4th, John Myers 5th. I didn't write down the results beyond that.

Novice Ladies

Again, for the novice ladies I didn't see short programs, only the final round free skate. Emily Hughes won. Poor kid -- the announcer introduced her as "Sarah" before correcting herself. (When I was a kid, there was nothing I hated more than people calling me by my older sister's name.) She had some nifty moves in her program, including a sit spin entered from a low shoot-the-duck or lunge position, but according to my notes, she didn't land a clean triple. Her attempts were a one foot axel into a triple salchow, which she landed on the wrong foot, and a triple toe with a step-out. I get the impression that she actually skated somewhat better at Wissahickon.

I personally would have given the win to Lisa Danemiller, who wound up second. She did not skate as well in competition as she did in the warmup, as she fell on her triple salchow attempt and all but waxeled her second double axel. The first double axel was a beauty, though, and she also landed two triple toe loops although neither was in combination. Aside from the elements, though, she had "the look" about her -- strong and confident and a lot more polished than Hughes, who still has a kind of gawky appearance on the ice in spite of the interesting choreography and elements in her programs.

Random Observations

Just a couple more comments for a wrap-up....

I also saw some parts of the lower-level events, although I didn't take notes on them. I think one of my favorite performances of the competition was Mark Schulz's free skate in intermediate men. He didn't land very many jumps and placed somewhere around 12th, but what made him stand out was all the flexibility and edge moves in his program -- hydroblading, spirals, a layback spin, etc. It made a nice change compared to his competitors, many of whom were simply skating from one jump to the next.

I also managed to catch the last flight of intermediate ladies in the final round and was impressed by Christy Graham, who I think ended up winning. She reminded me a lot of Tara Lipinski -- a tiny little thing who seemed to be quite a proficient jumper for her size.

Finally, one non-performance thing I noted. Richard Callaghan sure had a lot of students competing at this event, given that he announced his retirement from coaching more than a year ago. :-P (The Detroit Free Press even quoted him last March as saying he definitely didn't want to teach any more.)

Photos

My photos all came out very dark, and I've had to brighten them up the best I can in software. I took these during the senior and junior men's short programs, but didn't bother taking any more photos during any of the later events in the competition after I realized that they weren't turning out well.

File size is about 30K per image.

Senior men

Junior men

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