2001 New Englands

All reports are up now! I also "rescued" some of my underexposed photos from the novice ladies free skate.

Click here to find the official results from this competition.

Junior Ladies Qualifying

I saw the second of two groups of the qualifying rounds for junior ladies. I didn't take notes (or photos), but Louann Donovan was the obvious winner. She fell on her triple lutz attempt but landed triple loop, salchow, and two toe loops. It's the same "Chicago" program she had last year.

I was told that Dorothy Nowobilski landed only two triples in winning the other group, and that Amy Bobrick had a disappointing skate.

Junior Men Short Program

Mauro Bruni was the first skater up. His program was "Happy Valley", skated in a black outfit with a sparkly red vest. Straight-line steps the whole length of the rink into a triple flip, which he fell on; the jump looked fully rotated to me, and even landed with good flow, but he just couldn't hold the landing. Double axel was fine, but then he popped what was supposed to be a triple lutz combination. Oops. It looked fine in practice, and this time I had a good view of it and could see that it is not flutzed after all. Anyway, the serpentine footwork was quite complex, the flying camel had a good position but was very slow and probably short of rotation. So, this was definitely not up to the same level as the short program Mauro delivered at Mid-Atlantics a few weeks ago, where he landed both the flip and lutz.

Adam Kaplan was next, wearing black and skating to some music that seemed to be mostly percussion. Double axel fine, triple loop/double toe for the combination. Ooops, he sort of lost control on the exit of his spin combination, and then a bit later he skated into the boards as he was going around the end of the rink, and fell. Only a double flip out of footwork, but it was cleanly landed.

Zachary Grenier wore bright electric blue and skated to electronic-sounding music. He opened with some circular footwork that included some tricky-looking brackets. Triple toe/double toe combination was pretty wild, and in his spin combination he only got in about one rotation in the camel position before dropping into sit and back sit. Fell on the double axel, double flip didn't look very well-controlled either.

Shaun Tolson wore an elaborate black sequinned outfit and skated to familiar-sounding violin music. Triple toe/double toe combination, double axel clean, triple flip was underrotated and two-footed. I noted that his flying camel was pretty weak in terms of both position and speed.

Nicholas Laroche skated to Latin music dressed in a burgundy shirt. He was looking pretty strong in the practice earlier, but maybe he had too much adrenalin going in this performance. He stepped out of the solo triple flip, on his combination he stepped out of the triple lutz, tried a triple toe anyway, and fell on it. Then he fell on the double axel, too. On the positive side, his spins, especially the camel, have improved greatly since last year, and I guess this is still better than at Mid-Atlantics, where he managed to fall 4 times in the short.

They didn't have the results posted when I left and I didn't really have a clue how the placements might have turned out. Mauro and Nick are clearly the strongest skaters of the bunch, but they both made too many mistakes. I think I might have put Adam first.

Senior Men Short Program

Shepherd Clark is back! It doesn't look like he's been training much, if it all, since last season's Nationals, though -- in the practice prior to the competition, after he tried a couple triple axels, he yelled at somebody in the audience that it had been 8 months since he'd last tried one. I thought he looked like he's put on a bit of weight, too. Shep is still using his "1812 Overture" short program. Jumps were double axel, triple lutz/double toe with a step-out, fall on a triple loop(!). BTW, I am sure he merited a costume deduction for wearing tights. In the practice, he also was wearing his shirt unbuttoned to the waist.

Ian Macadam skated to a jazz medley that included "Summertime". Triple toe out of footwork, spectacularly high flying sitspin, serpentine steps, change sit spin, straight-line step, double axel, double loop/double toe combination with a fall. Ian's footwork and connecting steps looked particularly complex and difficult, with a lot of choctaws and rockers and such like, and he seems much smoother and more controlled than I remember from last year. The jumps aren't really there for him, but his skating has other things to offer instead.

Josh Figurido was listed in the program but did not skate. I was told that, because there were fewer than four entries, all the senior men advance automatically to Easterns but were given the option of skating anyway, and that Josh simply chose not to do so.

Novice Men Short Program

Just to give a short rundown on all the competitors:

Matthew Gillis: fell on double lutz, single axel. Spins were relatively weak, too. 70's rock guitar music.

Jason Wong: double axel out of a spread eagle, triple sal/double toe that came to a dead halt on the landing, double flip landed off-balance. The spin combination was a highlight, with a good variety of positions. His music was mostly percussion with "hey hey" shouts.

Justin Clements: big single axel, double lutz/double toe good. Weak positions in the spin combination. Techno music with a heavy beat.

Noah Abrahams: a lot of speed into a triple salchow, but fell on it. Single axel. I think the rest of the program was clean. Music was "The Race". Christopher Thombs: double axel, but fell on double flip, fell while just stroking (caught a toe pick and went flying), and fell again on his double lutz/double toe combination. Flying camel didn't have much fly. Movie music, probably.

Matthew Blumenfeld: double axel, fell on triple salchow, did double flip with arms folded in front of his chest, death drop was wimpy. He skated to some bluesy music; also notable for wearing the most elaborate costume of the event, and the only one that was not black. It was navy blue with a sheer overshirt with fluttery sleeves.

Phillip Deyesso: double lutz/double toe combination almost into the boards, two footed double axel (but a big improvement over warmup, where I think he popped or waxeled at least 10 attempts at it), good spin combination, popped the flip. I can't read my scribblings about his music.

Matthew Lind: triple lutz/double toe combination, but not much height or ice coverage to the jumps. Double axel good, flying camel was wimpy, 'tano double flip, spin combination again with a weak camel. Skated to "Phantom of the Opera".

John Cain: double axel with a step-out and hand down, really slow flying camel, double salchow/single toe combination, spin combination also really slow, popped flip. Spanish guitar music.

Daniel Gratzer: double flutz/double toe, lost control on flying camel and had to abort it, single axel, fell on double flip. "Jumping Jack" (same music that Ilia Kulik used a couple years ago).

Chad Brennan: 'tano double lutz/double toe, double axel underrotated and landed on the wrong foot, fell on double flip. "Montagues & Capulets".

I did not see the novice men's free skates (I decided it was necessary to sleep instead), but I wasn't surprised to see Jason Wong win, since he was clearly the best skater in the short, with the most control and flow on his in-between skating, and the best spins.

Junior Ladies Short Program

Amy Bobrick: back spiral into triple loop (maybe two-footed)/double loop, double flip, double axel landed forward, way underrotated. I have no clue what her music was, but she presented it well.

Holly Hester: double lutz/double toe, double axel, double flip all clean. I thought she should have been placed a bit higher; OK, so she doesn't have any triples, but her doubles were all of very good quality, with power, height, and flow. Music was "Dance Macabre".

Catherine Murphy: fell on double axel attempt that was nowhere near fully rotated, hand down on the double flip, slow flying camel, hard fight to check the landing of the double lutz and then a step out of the landing of the double toe. "Chaplin".

Colleen Tremblay: double axel possibly cheated, fell on triple salchow that was definitely underrotated, double flip OK. Latin music.

Lisa Iorio: Triple salchow with a wild landing into a "toe axel", double axel and double flip OK. "Zorro". Kristin Tudisco: fell on double axel, badly cheated triple salchow/double toe combination, double flip. Music sounded familiar, but I wasn't sure if it was John Tesh, David Foster, or Yanni.

Stephanie O'Leary: double loop/double loop, double flip OK, bizarre double axel that had no speed or ice coverage at all but was simply "spun" in place, and was probably cheated. Skated to the exact same Tesh/Foster/Yanni piece that Kristin used.

Michelle Iorio: double lutz/double toe, double axel, double flip all OK, but I didn't think of the same quality as Holly's jumps. Unlike her sister, Michelle is a lefty jumper. Music was a disco "Malaguena" arrangement.

Louann Donovan: triple (f)lutz cheated/double toe, double axel good, double flip. She skated to "Bolero". I think she probably would have won even without the lutz just on the basis of her overall skating quality.

Meaghan Alix: fell on double axel, again on double lutz, double flip was OK. Violin music with a beat.

Dorothy Nowobilski: fell on triple salchow, double axel good, flying camel was pretty slow, double flip good. Spectacular spirals, and Dorothy is showing a lot more personality and spark on the ice this year. Her music was a jazz medley.

Kristine Lee: double axel, fell on triple salchow that was badly leaning in the air, double flip ok, flying camel had better-than-average "fly". More violin music with a beat.

Junior Men Free Skate

Zachary Grenier started out with a nice double axel/double toe combination, but things kind of went downhill from there -- messy landings on the three triples he attempted, a couple popped jumps, a "whoop" (completely slipped off the entrance to a loop), and losing control on his final spin, too. On the positive side, he has nice carriage and his camel spin positions are excellent. His music was "West Side Story".

Mauro Bruni had had a horrific practice earlier in the afternoon where he was popping and doubling everything and looking visibly frustrated with himself. When it came time for the competition, at least he got the triple flip and lutz in before he started popping things, and then he did finally manage to rotate a triple toe near the end of his program. His program was "Man in the Iron Mask". He is a neat and precise skater, but I think it would help him to be more competitive at this level if he worked on his speed and ice coverage.

Nicholas Laroche didn't have a great skate either. Triple lutz/double toe was good, fell on triple flip, triple salchow/double toe, triple loop with a step-out on the landing, triple toe, popped axel. He is very, very fast, and this program has a lot of nice edgy footwork in it. Music is "Lord of the Dance", I think.

Shaun Tolson attempted an ambitious program with 6 triples, but unfortunately he landed only one triple salchow cleanly out of them. During the afternoon practice, I think he was doing more jump attempts than any of the other guys, and I thought he may just have worn himself out before the competition even started. He's using the same "Lawrence of Arabia" program he had last year.

Finally, Adam Kaplan was up, skating to a Santana medley. He opened up with a big triple lutz -- first time I've ever seen him land this jump! Last year he didn't even seem close. He also landed a nice triple loop, but popped or doubled all the remaining jumps in his program. I was a bit surprised that the judges put Adam ahead of Mauro, since Mauro did land one more triple, and Adam also had his share of problems with speed and ice coverage.

Senior Men Free Skate

Ian Macadam skated to music from "Rodeo". His triples are the toe loop, salchow, and loop, but according to my notes he did not land any of them cleanly in this performance. As in the short program, the highlights were in the variety of his footwork and connecting elements, and a big flying sit spin.

Shepherd Clark has a new long program -- it sounds like movie music to me. I wondered how much of the choreography he was making up as he went along; it seemed peculiar, for instance, that he did the exact same butterfly spin twice towards the end of the program, and some of the moves were obviously recycled from past programs (his standard straight-line footwork sequence, for instance). Jumps were triple loop, triple something (axel, maybe? I was distracted) with a step-out into a double toe, triple lutz, double axel, triple loop/double toe barely squeaked out with no flow, another double axel. Eh. Shep is never at his best this early in the season, but I think he'd better watch out for Scott Smith and Derrick Delmore at Easterns.

Senior Ladies Short Program

I'm going to be merciful and not give a blow-by-blow analysis of the senior ladies. Basically, in this competition, there was Alicia Cavanaugh, and then there was everybody else. Alicia's triple toe and triple salchow are both looking very consistent this year, and that's more than enough to give her an easy victory in this field. She had a freak fall on her double axel in the short and still won it easily.

Amanda Fuller looks like she has grown about 6 inches since last year, and it's all in her legs. She squeaked out a triple salchow/toe axel as her jump combination in the short, but generally looks like she hasn't gotten accustomed to her new size yet.

Midori Williams had a bad skate in the short, popping her axel, falling on the triple salchow, and doing only a double toe as the jump out of footwork. She has a new Spanish-flavor program that suits her a lot better than the "generic pretty" one she had last year, at least.

I was pleased to see Kate Liberman do well for herself; she has beautiful extensions and positions in her spins, good connecting moves, and a lot of musicality in her presentation. Her jumps are not so great, but she stayed vertical, and that was all she needed to do.

I did not stay to see the senior ladies' free skates on Saturday night. The competition was already running about an hour and a half late (due to problems with the ice in the other rink), and with 16 competitors and open marking, I thought things would really drag on a lot later than I wanted to stay. The short programs were bad enough, with incidents like one competitor's marks having to be read 3 times because the judges kept holding up the wrong cards.

Novice Ladies Free Skate

Overall, I do not think this was such a strong group of novices as there's been in the past few years, and there were no real stand-out performances, either. In the first two of the three groups of skaters, there were no clean double axels landed. All of the girls at this level were doing a full set of other doubles, though, including a combination like double lutz/double toe, or double lutz/double loop, or double lutz/double toe/double loop.

Cassandra Benito was the first skater up in the final group. She landed her first double axel attempt, but fell on the second one; no triples in her program. She skated to some ethnic east-European type music and showed some nice interpretation and personality.

I remembered Erica Archambault from last year as "the skater with the layback", but alas, she didn't really show it off in this program. She had two triple salchows and two double axels planned in this program, fell on one of each, and I think the other salchow and axel may both have been two-footed. Her double lutz/double toe/double loop combination was one of the best of the event. I didn't write down her music.

Kelsey Raycroft didn't leave a strong impression on me, but looking over my notes I see that she completely deserved her 2nd-place finish. She didn't have a triple in her program, but she landed one very good double axel and another one with a turn-out, and had good speed. She skated to "Riverdance".

I'd heard good things about Jennifer Don coming into this event, but after opening with a big, clean triple toe, the rest of her program was a let-down. She fell twice on double axel attempts and I think it left her looking a bit deflated. No music notes, sorry.

Meghan Diotalevi did a poor-quality double axel with very little height to it, and an even messier, cheated triple salchow. Her big combination was double lutz/double loop/double loop. Haley Ellis had very similar elements to Meghan, except she did double lutz/double toe/double loop instead.

Intermediate Ladies Free Skate

Intermediate ladies are one of the main reasons why I'm glad I'm not a judge. There are so many of them to begin with, and the ones who make it to the final round are all virtually interchangeable, in terms of the elements they are doing -- they all had all their doubles up to the lutz, and none of them had a clean double axel yet. The judges' ordinals for many of these skaters were all over the board, and even in cases where there seemed to be a near-consensus, I wasn't sure what the judges were seeing that I wasn't. For instance, I was more impressed with Brianna Perry's skating last year, when she placed in the middle of the pack, than this year, when she won.

Some people are probably wondering what happened to the much-hyped Kelly O'Grady, who placed 6th for the second year in a row. I think she would have placed higher if she'd cut out the elements she can't really do from her program (the badly cheated double axel and triple salchow) and concentrated on improving the quality of her other double jumps.

Incidentally, this event was originally supposed to take place in the smaller of the two rinks at Simsbury, but they were having some problem with the ice in that rink -- I saw that the open juvenile boys were competing with some cones on the ice to mark where the bad sections were. I think the trouble was that the paint was coming up through the ice. Anyway, the referee decided to move the intermediates to the larger rink, and push back the remaining events originally scheduled for that rink, which is how they ended up running an hour and a half late.

Junior Ladies Free Skate

The first skater of note was Holly Hester, skating last in the first group. I didn't recognize the music, but it sounded like a movie score. Her jumps were a big double axel that she fell on, double flip/double toe, double salchow, a nice clean double axel, double loop, double luz/double toe, double flip. She has a really nice spring and "neat feet" in the air on all her jumps. This turned out to be good enough for 4th place in the free skate, but because of her low placement in the short program, it didn't pull her up enough to make it to Easterns.

The Iorio sisters skated back-to-back in the second group. Michelle, the lefty-jumper, skated to "West Side Story", did not attempt a triple, and I thought both of her double axels were a bit cheated. Lisa skated to what I think was the same classical medley that Nicole Bobek used in 1997 or 1998; she fell on her triple salchow, the first double axel was two-footed, and the second one looked cheated. Kristine Lee had a very messy time with her jumps -- she missed two salchow attempts, stepped out of her first double axel and barely hung on to the second. I noticed she has a bad wrap on some of her jumps. Her program was "Swan Lake", I think, but some of the less familiar sections of music.

Louann Donovan also had a subpar skate. She opened by popping her lutz -- BTW, during warmup I was watching this more closely and noticed that she was definitely flutzing this jump. Triple toe/double toe, triple loop, and double axel were fine, but then she fell on a walley jump, of all things, and it took her forever to get back on her feet and under control, and then it looked like she had to abort what was probably intended to be a triple salchow because her timing was screwed up. She got back into it with another triple toe loop at the end of the program. As I noted before, she's using the same "Chicago" program as last year.

Amy Bobrick was up next. I thought she had the best costume as well as the best program of the event (to an instrumental version of "Time to Say Goodbye"), but the jumps weren't there for her, either. I think she two-footed both the triple loop and first triple salchow, stepped out of the triple toe, second triple salchow was obviously underrotated, and then she fell on the double axel at the end of the program.

Dorothy Nowobilski was the last skater. Judging from her arm movements, she was doing a program with a middle-eastern theme, but I wouldn't have known that from the music, which sounded like a generic movie score to me. Double axel, triple toe (I think -- I was distracted by writing in my notebook), but then things went downhill, with a step out and hands down on the triple salchow and a fall on the second double axel. On the positive side, being so tall she moves with a lot of power on the ice, and she presents herself well.

So, nobody had a particularly good skate at this event. Based on what I saw in practices, Louann Donovan does look like she is progressing nicely and I expect her to be in contention for a medal at Nationals. OTOH, she is still so small that it's hard to say whether she's going to be able to sustain it once she starts to grow.

Photo Gallery

Photos are Copyright (c) 2000, Sandra J. Loosemore, and are provided for personal viewing only.

Obligatory disclaimers: my camera is wimpy, the lighting wasn't so great, and they left the hockey glass up, so many of these photos are of pretty poor quality.

All of my photos from Friday came out very dark, and the ones from the novice ladies free skate on Saturday turned out even worse, because they didn't have the lights in the rink turned all the way up during those sessions.

Senior men

Junior men

Novice men

Senior ladies

Junior ladies

Novice ladies

Intermediate ladies

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