2002 Easterns

2002 USFSA Eastern Sectional Championships
November 29-Dec 1, 2001
Pittsburgh, PA

Thursday report

This was a long day of travel and skating, and I'm sure other people have better notes than I did (since I was trying to take photos at the same time), so I'll just hit the highlights.

Junior ladies short program

Not much doubt about who won this one: Louann Donovan skated a clean program with a triple lutz/double toe combination and solo triple loop, and the same power and command I've seen in her other recent performances. There's still room for improvement, though: the lutz is still slightly flutzed, and she didn't have any footwork to speak of heading into the loop.

Lauren Thomas also had a clean skate to take second, but she did only a triple toe/double toe combination and double loop as the jump out of steps. It's the same program she used last year and has good choreography and difficulty in the step sequences.

Kelsey Drewel was lucky to be in third after a disappointing fall on her triple lutz and trouble on her flying sit spin. She also did only a double loop instead of a triple.

Meghan Diotalevi landed the other triple lutz combination of the event, but it was a little labored and overall her skating didn't have the quality of the skaters who finished above her.

Emily Hughes (5) landed a triple flip/double toe combination and an obviously cheated triple loop, but fell on her double axel. Adriana Desanctis (6) fell on both triple lutz and loop.

Senior ladies short program

This event was a real splatfest, with nobody skating a clean program. As a result, ordinals were all over the place.

Surprise! Patricia Mansfield is back! She fell on her attempt at a triple lutz, but got the double axel and triple toe, and skated her whole program with good attack, and in this field it was good enough for first place.

Shayna Syken squeaked into second place by landing her triple lutz/double toe combination. But she fell on her triple loop and seemed fairly slow.

Andrea Varreaux (3rd) skated the closest thing to a clean program, with a triple toe/double toe combination and a very wild landing on a cheated triple salchow -- I wasn't sure if she put her hand down or not.

Stacey Pensgen hung on to 4th place after falling on her triple lutz and barely hanging on to her double axel. She did a triple toe as the jump out of footwork. Overall, I thought she looked pretty tentative.

Cheryl Smith (5th) did a two-footed triple loop, triple salchow/double toe, double axel with a hand down. She also skated pretty tentatively and her spins were not up to her usual standard, either. When she skates with more attack and sureness, Cheryl is perfectly capable of getting presentation scores in the 5's, but that didn't happen here.

Sara Wheat and Stephanie Roth both had disastrous skates with multiple mistakes. Kate Liberman, OTOH, turned in a good performance for her; the double axel was landed on one foot and the triple loop in her combination was only slightly two-footed.

Novice ladies short program

Erica Archambault was the easy winner of this event, landing both double axel and triple salchow/double toe combination cleanly in a well-choreographed and well-presented program. Ashley Lovasik also got the same jumps, but she toe-axelled her combination and overall the performance seemed a bit "flatter". Katie Hadford is lucky to be in third after falling on her double axel and also toe-axelling her combination, but it seems the judges gave her a lot of credit for her spins. (She and Erica have two of the bendiest layback spins I've ever seen.) Kristina Moore, meanwhile, got both the triple salchow and double axel to finish 4th.

The big surprise of this event was Anna Peng burying herself in 8th place by falling on both her triple toe and double axel. After seeing her at Wissahickon last summer, I thought she was likely to win not only this event, but Nationals as well.

Senior pairs short program

Only two pairs competing here, so this is just for the experience rather than the placements.

Orscher & Lucash managed a more or less clean short program with side-by-side triple toes and a throw triple salchow. Their lift was a fairly simple toe lasso which went to 1-arm but with no change of position. Weak points for them were the pair spin (very slow) and solo spins (no unison), and an overall sense of cautiousness through the whole program. BTW, they were wearing G&G's "Requiem" costumes, which I had always thought were black and white from TV and photos, but in person they're two shades of gray.

Hinzmann & Biancosino also went for the triple toes, but he fell on his. Throw triple salchow was good, lift was even simpler than O&L's, other elements were OK until he fell again in their straight-line footwork. Oops. They did have nice unison in their solo spins, at least.

Friday report

Long day again, just minimal notes here.

Junior men short program

Shaun Rogers easily won the short, landing triple lutz/triple toe and triple loop, but stepping out of his double axel. His camel was pretty slow but the other spins looked OK to me.

Matt Lind and Adam Aronowitz split the second and third place ordinals, which surprised me because I thought Matt was clearly ahead. He did triple lutz/double toe and triple loop, while Adam obviously two-footed the landing of his lutz, did only a double loop, and had a really weak camel as well.

Brad Griffies ended up in 4th place, doing a triple lutz with a step out into a double toe and double loop. He skated fairly slowly and cautiously throughout the program, but he seemed very happy with his performance.

Quick notes on others in the field: We got to see the *other* David Pelletier here. I found myself more impressed by his elaborate choreography and costuming than his skating. Mauro Bruni took himself out of contention by botching both his combination and double axel, and his clever choreography and good presentation wasn't enough to hold him up. Everyone I was sitting with was going ga-ga over Kevin Curtis, who has some of the nicest spiral and spin positions I've ever seen from a male skater. Too bad he had to jump, too.

Junior ladies free skate

As in the short program, Louann Donovan ran away with this competition. Her free skate was pretty much the same as the performance I'd seen her do at the SC of Boston a few weeks ago -- a clean skate with 5 triples: triple lutz/double toe, triple loop, triple flip, triple toe/double toe out of a back spiral, double axel, triple salchow out of a walley. If she keeps up this level of consistency through Nationals, I'd have to think that the USFSA will put her on the World Junior team, even though most of the other contenders will be skating at the senior level at Nationals instead.

The rest of the competitors were splatting all over the ice. It was pretty ugly. When Adriana Desanctis skated in the next-to-last group, I thought her one good triple (salchow) and one that was barely squeaked out (loop) would not move her up into the top 4, but it turned out to be enough, in combination with her speed and basic skating. Lauren Thomas left the ice in tears after landing only one triple salchow and one triple toe, but that turned out to be enough to get her to Nationals, too. Emily Hughes at least looked happy with her skate, after landing a badly cheated triple lutz, one-foot axel/triple salchow combination, and a scary triple toe. Meanwhile, Kelsey Drewel completely imploded -- between the falls and pops, the only jump content in her program was a triple toe and two doubles.

Senior men short program

There were rumors going around the rink on Thursday that Michael Weiss was going to find some minor injury excuse (bruised ego, perhaps?) for not skating, but he did show up and compete. I thought he was kind of tempting the skate gods in the afternoon warmup session by wearing a shirt that had the OOOOO rings and "USA 2002" on it, and when it came time for the competition, it appeared that the gods had their revenge: he fell on a quad toe that was not even close, and put his hand down on triple axel (it could have been worse, I was afraid he was going to splat on that, too). I guess with a short program like this, the judges at Nationals would probably still leave him in the top 5, but at the OOOOOs, forget it.

Derrick Delmore went for a quad salchow in his short program and also fell, but I thought it was a better attempt than Weiss's, as it was fully rotated and landed on one foot -- he just could not hold the landing. Derrick also got the triple axel and triple lutz cleanly and you could make an argument for putting him ahead of Weiss. His spins were of very good quality and he interprets his "Cotton Club" program well.

Shepherd Clark is really back! Triple axel with a step out (I didn't really expect him to land this, since he wasn't in practice), triple lutz/double loop, fall on triple loop -- normally, this is Shep's best jump, but he sometimes misses it out of plain lack of concentration. Shep is still skating the "1812" program he's had for ages.

Scott Smith did a two-footed triple lutz in combination with double toe, made a mess of his triple axel attempt, triple loop out of steps.

Rusty Fein did a triple flip out of footwork, squeaked out a triple lutz/double toe, double axel. Rusty's spins and in between skating were kind of weak, though. After practice on Thursday I spotted him applying ice packs to both ankles, and I hear he's lost a lot of practice time due to this injury.

Ian Macadam did a triple flip as his jump out of steps and triple loop/double toe out of a spread eagle as his combination, but I thought both triples were a bit two-footed. Ian's best element is his huge flying sitspin, and he always has interesting choreography and difficult footwork and connecting steps in his programs.

Richard Reyor was way out of his league in this event; he missed all three jump elements, and the rest of his skating was not really at a senior level, either.

Pairs and dance

I saw both the junior and senior pairs free skates but didn't take notes on either. Orscher & Lucash's free skate was really one of the highlights of the day; it seemed to me that they skated better in competition than they had been in the warmup, where they were really crashing on their triple twist and taking repeated hard falls on the throw triple loop -- they were able to do both those elements decently when it counted.

I also saw the junior ODs, but again didn't take notes. Both Frisch & Bommentre and Devins & O'Keefe chose "Spanish waltz" music so lacking in a distinguishable beat, and choreography so un-waltz-like, that I wouldn't have been able to identify them as such without looking at the music cheat sheet they had posted. I personally would have had Goodwin & Obzansky ahead of Galler-Rabinowitz & Mitchell, although I wasn't paying a great deal of attention to checking off the required elements. One curious feature of the latter team's dance was that their straightline step sequence used mirror steps that crossed back and forth instead of side-by-side steps. As for G&O, both their tango and flamenco showed plenty of attitude and sharp movements, but I have to question whether lyrics that include a loud shout of "Merde!" are really appropriate.....

Saturday report

Junior free dance

I didn't take notes on this, but my impression was that either Goodwin & Obzansky or Galler-Rabinowitz & Mitchell could have won this. They skated very different dances: G&O did a dramatic Chinese (or was it Japanese?) style dance to drum music with a lot of complex footwork -- the final circular step sequence was particularly effective. GR&M, OTOH, skated the waltz program I'd previously seen them do at the Jimmy Fund show in October, but much improved: this time it was obvious that they were really waltzing, and the style of the program suits them because of the long flowing edges which are their strong point. I thought the main weakness of the dance now was that they did a lot of it in hand-in-hand holds or otherwise not skating very close together, while I think G&O did more complex holds and transitions. Anyway, I expect that at Nationals, it's going to be these two teams in contention with Ralph & O'Meara for the gold, and at this point it's hard to say how they'll stack up against each other. It's too bad these teams didn't get any experience on the JGP circuit this fall.

Junior men free skate

Shaun Rogers won this competition handily in spite of having a few sloppy moments in his program. He started out strong with triple lutz/triple toe, a gorgeous clean triple axel (more than any of the senior men managed!), and triple flip. Two-foot and step-out on the triple loop, triple salchow, popped the second lutz, triple toe, triple salchow/double toe with a step-out. Well-choreographed and well-presented program to "The Bolt", but I was most impressed by the incredible spring he gets on his jumps.

Matt Lind had a similar kind of performance as well, landing triple lutz/double toe, triple loop, two-footed triple flip, triple salchow/double toe, triple toe, triple lutz with another slight two-foot, cheated triple salchow, double axel. Skating was fairly slow and deliberate throughout, typical bland Scotvold style choreography.

Adam Aronowitz finished 3rd with a messy performance of a program to "The Red Violin" that seemed a bit too ambitious for him both technically and choreographically. I think his only clean triples were two salchows but he also had a two-footed triple flip and a cheated triple lutz that he seemed to get at least some credit for from the judges.

Mauro Bruni pulled up to 4th in the free skate and 6th overall with a decent long program. His jumps were triple flip, triple toe/double toe, triple salchow, and two double axels. Both lutzes and the loop were popped, though. Mauro still seems to be in a phase where he is having a lot of trouble just rotating his jumps in warmup as well as competition, but when he did get them they would be very neat, high-quality jumps. This was the same "Man in the Iron Mask" program as last year, but I noticed that he's picked up the speed and added a few nuances to the elements. BTW, Mauro is now being coached by Slavka Button.

Brad Griffies finished 5th in the free and 4th overall with a similarly up and down program. Only two clean triples -- toe and salchow -- but he held the performance together. Brad's a very musical skater with lovely carriage and that helped him out. He used last year's Spanish guitar program here. Nice that Brad is going to get to skate at Nationals himself, instead of just all the costumes he's made for other competitors!

Senior ladies free skate

Who would have thought that Patricia Mansfield would win Easterns 7 years after her last appearance at Nationals? She was actually only third in the free skate, with two clean triple toes and a triple salchow that she did a double three out of; she fell on her first flip and popped the second. Overall strong skating and plenty of attack and confidence as she had in the short program, though. I was amused to see her doing a little happy dance as she was coming off the ice after the medal ceremony.

Sara Wheat actually won the free skate and pulled up to place 3rd overall. It wasn't a great performance, though: only two clean triples -- loop and salchow -- and a lutz with a turn out into a double toe. On the positive side, Sara has a much, much better program this year than last, set to "Coppelia" and choreographed by Lea Ann Miller. It really brings out the strength of her edges and the quality of her basic skating. Jumps aside, she clearly is the best skater in the field at this event.

Stacey Pensgen took 2nd in the long and 3rd overall with a performance that included only two clean triples, lutz and salchow. Even the jumps she landed, though, looked kind of out of control. New program to "Dr. Zhivago" in a blue dress. Hmmmm, just a little derivative of one of her coach's former students.....

Andrea Varraux hung on to 4th place with a performance that seemed fairly unremarkable to me. Triples were two toe loops (the second one may have been two-footed) and a salchow. Shayna Syken was 5th with a performance that started out with a huge fall on a lutz where she jammed her pick in the ice before she even got up into the air, and then managed to spike herself in the foot somehow as well. She got up and skated the rest of her program with a big gash in her boot. She went on to land a triple loop and triple salchow, amazingly.

I have to give a small rant here: Stephanie Roth was robbed! After the mess she made of her short program, she came back with a very good free skate with two triple toes, two triple salchows, and a decent attempt at a triple flip, all skated in her usual powerful style. Yet she got absolutely no respect from the judges for this, and ended up being placed only 6th. I kind of feel like the judges are dismissing her because she's too big and doesn't skate in a stereotypical "girly" style.

Senior men free skate

Michael Weiss won the long program with a decent, but not outstanding, performance. This time he managed to stand up on his quad toe (although it may have been two-footed again), but his triple axel was MIA: popped the first one and the second one looked like an intentional double. He also tripped in some footwork and fell on his triple loop, but got the flip, salchow, and lutz at the end of the program. I was pleased to see that since I last saw this program in person at Wissahickon he has gotten rid of the silly prancing section in the middle of the program, but unfortunately the idiotic shoot-the-ducks are still there.

Derrick Delmore took 2nd with a 5-triple skate: lutz, loop, toe, salchow, another toe. Fell on the quad salchow and first triple axel, popped the flip, second axel looked like an intentional double. I was trying to compare this mentally to what the guys at Midwesterns did, and I figure he might have finished third or fourth there, with neither a triple axel nor a triple/triple combination. If he actually landed both the quad and an axel, though, the rest of his skating is of high enough quality that he could make the podium at Nationals. This long program, to "Lawrence of Arabia", is the best he's ever had, too.

Scott Smith was 3rd with a pretty messy program: turn out of triple axel, falls on quad salchow, triple lutz, and triple axel one after another. Got the triple salchow, then two-footed the flip, got the loop, triple toe/triple toe was probably two-footed on the back half. He's still somewhat lacking in speed, the program and choreography didn't really draw people in, and I find his stiff hands distracting.

Shepherd Clark ended up 4th, skating what I think was the same program he used when he skated at last year's New Englands, or at least the same music. I wasn't sure how much of the choreograhy he was improvising, but there was a lot of stroking around, and I recognized much of the rest as being borrowed directly from other programs of his; e.g., the opening was exactly the same as his short program, and he's doing the same straight-line steps that have been in every program of his for about the last 10 years. Anyway, his jumps were popped axel, triple toe, triple lutz, triple loop/single toe/fall, another triple lutz not in combination, double flip, double salchow/double toe.

Rusty Fein struggled to a 5th-place finish, landing only a triple salchow and lutz and double axel at the beginning of his program before he started to unravel and double and fall on the rest of his jumps. He was looking like he was in serious distress by the end of his program; I'm not sure how much was due to pain from his sore ankles, and how much to blame on not having been able to train because of the injury. Not qualifying for Nationals will at least give him an excuse to take some time off to try to heal now, and it looks like he really needs it. His program to "The Planets" looked like it had potential but not much of it came through in this performance.

Ian Macadam might have been able to move up a spot with a better skate, but it didn't happen. He only got one clean triple, a flip. The loop and salchow were both way underrotated and landed on the wrong foot. The amazing flying sit spin was missing from this program, but Ian's cool move of the day was a spread eagle that started in a complete, large circle at center ice and then continued in a straight line up to the end of the rink and around into the corner.

Richard Reyor again finished last with a program where he landed only single and double jumps. I was paying closer attention to his skating this time and saw that he has fairly good control over his footwork and edge skills, but he tends to do it all almost in slow motion.

Photos

Photos are Copyright (c) 2001, Sandra J. Loosemore, and are provided for personal viewing only except as noted in Skateweb's photo use policy. I tried to take photos of all the skaters in the events I saw that were held in the larger rink, but I'm still getting used to my new camera and was distracted by trying to take notes, too, so I didn't end up with publishable-quality photos of everyone.

Junior ladies

Alexa Ainsworth: short program | free skate

Cassandra Benito: short program

Adriana Desanctis: short program

Louann Donovan: short program | free skate | more free skate

Kelsey Drewel: short program | free skate | more free skate

Emily Hughes: short program

Chloe Katz: short program

Kristine Lee: short program | free skate

Melissa Lind: free skate

Holly Ponichtera: free skate

Lauren Thomas: free skate

Junior men

Noah Abrahams: short program

Adam Aronowitz: free skate | more free skate | pancake spin

Mauro Bruni: short program | free skate | attitude spin

Kevin Curtis: short program | more short program | free skate spin | spread eagle | charlotte spiral

Brad Griffies: short program | free skate | more free skate | still more free skate | spread eagle

Adam Kaplan: short program

Matt Lind: short program | free skate

David Pelletier: free skate | spread eagle

Shaun Rogers: short program | free skate

David Stein: free skate

Brian Tomczuk: free skate

Christopher Vaeth: short program

Junior dance

Devins & O'Keefe: free dance

Frisch & Bommentre: free dance

Galler-Rabinowitz & Mitchell: free dance

Goodwin & Obzansky: free dance (from the wrong side)

Junior pairs

Bakerman & Corb: free skate | more free skate

Evora & Adler: free skate

Jimenez & Leftheris: free skate | free skate

McInerney & Jorgens: free skate

Parker & Tauginas: free skate

Senior ladies

Podium shot

Kate Liberman: short program | more short program | free skate

Patricia Mansfield: short program | free skate | more free skate | catch-leg spin

Krissa Miller: short program | free skate

Stacey Pensgen: short program | free skate | catch-leg spin

Netta Rizea short program | free skate

Stephanie Roth: short program | layback in short program | side sit spin in free skate | layback in free skate

Cheryl Smith: short program | free skate | more free skate

Leisa Spence: short program

Shayna Syken: short program | free skate | hole in her boot

Colleen Tremblay: free skate

Kristin Tusidco: free skate

Andrea Varraux: free skate | more free skate

Sara Wheat: free skate | spiral

Senior men

Podium shot

Shepherd Clark: practice attire | short program opening.... | ....same as the free skate opening! | inside spread eagle | outside spread eagle

Derrick Delmore: short program | showing off in front of the judges | more short program | Derrick goes for a spin.... | ....and another one | spread eagle | free skate

Rusty Fein: short program | free skate | spread eagle

Ian Macadam: flying sit spin #1 | flying sit spin #2 | flying sit spin #3 | short program practice | short program | free skate practice | spread eagle... | ... all the way around the circle... | ... then down to the end of the rink

Richard Reyor: short program

Scott Smith: short program | free skate practice | spread eagle

Michael Weiss: Mike tempts the skate gods.... | .... and pays for it in the short. | Tempting the skate gods again in the free skate practice. | more free skate practice | free skate

Senior pairs

Hinzmann & Biancosino: short program spins | short program death spiral | free skate

Orscher & Lucash: short program opening | more short program opening | short program lift | short program twist | free skate opening | spiral | pair spin

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