2003 Cranberry Open

In spite of living in New England for many years now, I'd never been to the Cranberry Open before because it's such a horrible drive out to Cape Cod from anywhere else in the region. This year, though, I was tempted by strong fields of novice and junior ladies to make a day trip for the final day of competition. So at last I've made it to the infamous Tony Kent Arena (aka the "Tunny Can Arena" to Tonya Harding and her inept co-conspirators)! :-P It turns out to be a fairly ordinary single-rink facility with an adequate amount of bleacher seating. I was slightly annoyed that they left the hockey glass up, though.

A few other random comments and observations....

Interesting to see Ron Pfenning and Chuck Foster on the same panel of officials for some of the events. I spoke to Chuck briefly in the lobby myself, and asked him if he really wanted to be seen talking to someone wearing a WSF sweatshirt. :-)

Alexei Yagudin was listed on the start order for the senior men's free skate, but when we saw him still sitting around in street clothes half an hour before the event was going to start, it was obvious that he wasn't going to skate after all. He was present as Andrei Griazev's coach but ended up hanging around the rest of the day and evening, just sitting in the stands watching along with everyone else. I thought it was rather nice both that he had the interest to do this, and that he was able to do so without being mobbed by fans.

I ended up leaving shortly after the senior ladies started, around 9:30pm or so. After sitting through the first couple of skaters, I was afraid I was going to be asleep for the drive home if I stayed another hour until the end. I have to confess that, all the way there and back, I was wondering how Louann Donovan and her parents put up with doing that long drive every day for so many years. (It took over 2 hours to get there from Cambridge, although thankfully the traffic wasn't so bad on the way back.)

I'm feeling lazy about writing after such a late night, so here are notes on just the top finishers in each events. Link to full official results is here.

Intermediate Ladies Free Skate

Julia Vlassov (1): badly cut medley of "JFK", "Schindler's List", and another piece I didn't recognize. 3t, 2x very high fall, 3s, camel/layback/back sit fast and centered, 3t step 2t, layback, circular steps, 2f/2t, 2z, death drop. Talk is that she is having trouble with her double axel timing from working on the throw for pairs. In spite of that mistake, an easy winner in this event; but OTOH, if you compare her performance to what the top novices were doing, it's apparent that her skating is still a notch below the girls who are a year ahead of her.

Brittney Rizo (2): no music notes. 2f, 2x/2t a little hesitant, 2z/2t, flying camel, spread eagle into a 2r, 3s fell but it looked fully rotated, 2x way underrotated and landed on two feet, sit spin, 2f with hops into another 2f, circular steps, 2z, spin combination starting with a camel where she caught her leg in a half biellmann and flipped into a layback.

Caroline Herlihy (3): Glazunov's "The Seasons". 2r, 2z/2t, 2x hop out into 2t, death drop, edgy steps, 2x very nice, layback, 2z, straight-line steps, walley, 2f, 2s, spin combination. A good performance skated with a lot of attack.

Janessa Cammarata (4): Latin medley. 2f hops into 2r, 2x/2t, camel/sit/back camel/sit, 2s, 2x cheated fall, layback, 2z/2t, circular steps into 2f, flying camel. I thought some of her jumps looked kind of heavy and forced.

Deanna Vicari (5): Rachmaninoff piano concerto #3. Spread eagle into a nice 2z/2t, layback, 2x underrotated fall, 2f/2t, circular steps, 3s badly cheated, not-very-good flying camel, 2r, steps into 2f, 'tano 2z, camel/sit/biellmann/back sit.

Novice Ladies Free Skate

Danielle Shepard (1): techno middle-eastern music, or something like that. 3r, 3f two-footed/2t, 2.5z, 1-foot axel with some turns into a 3t/2t, deathdrop, layback, 2x, 3s, straight-line steps, 2z/2t, good spin combination. Holy cow! :-) In the 6-minute warmup, she not only landed the triple flip cleanly, but she was coming really close on the lutz, too, and I suspect she may very well get it by Easterns or Nationals. Amazing progress since last fall, when she was competing as an intermediate with her double axel, triple salchow, and triple toe all still a bit cheated. She's a good all-around skater, not just a jumper, too.

Juliana Cannarozzo (2): medley of Jalousie tango, the Habanera from "Carmen", and I think "Zorro". 2x, camel/layback/back toller spin/cross-foot, 3s with a double 3/2t, 2f/2t, 3r, 2z, ina, split jump, 3s, straight-line steps, 2x, 2f, death drop I think. A good program, and she really sold it, as usual for her.

Melanie Drogseth (3): medley of Debussy's "Afternoon of a Faun", "La Valse", and "Claire de Lune", with Beethoven's "Leonore" overture tacked on for good measure. (Apparently they deliberately chose the same music as one of Janet Lynn's old programs.) 3s/1t, 2z, flying camel, 2t, 2r, layback, popped axel, walleys, 3s, split into 2f/2t, spin combination. Melanie's axel just was not happening, not even in the warmup, and I'm sure that double toe must have been meant to be a triple, too. OTOH, her basic skating and presentation are the best of this group. In fact, I believe her presentation skills are already senior level, and good senior level at that.

Sasha Tokarev (4): some kind of music with a lot of percussion. Camel/sit/layback/back crossfoot, 2r, 2x very good, 3s lightly two-footed/2t, pop z steps into 2t, layback, spirals, 2s, 2x into 2f, circular steps, 2z, flying camel. Big jumps, lots of power.

Susan Hopkins (5): movie music, probably. 2x, 3t fall, 2z/2r, 3s underrotated with a step out, camel/layback/biellmann/back sit, 2f/2t, 2r, flying camel, ina, layback.

Novice Men Free Skate

The less said about this event, the better. :-( Very weak field, and so many falls and other mistakes that I pretty much gave up on taking notes when it became obvious that there was nothing worth writing about. I had been hoping to see Stephen Carriere, but he did not compete.

Junior Men Free Skate

Andrei Griazev (1): "La Strada", I think -- it's the same music Rahkamo & Kokko used for their 1994 free dance, anyway. His outfit is black with a white ruffle collar and ruffled cuffs. 3x step out into 3t underrotated step out, 3f, pop z, 2s/3t barely hung on, flying camel in a layover position with a bent leg, steps with lots of toe work that didn't make a full circle, 3s, MITF with nice spirals, 3r, Russian-style straight-line steps with lots of stops and toe work again, 2x barely hung on again, two spin combinations in a row with very similar positions in both. Well, hmmm. He did land a clean triple axel in the 6-minute warmup, but in the context of the program he looked kind of out-of-control throughout. If he can land the jumps more cleanly, the judges will probably really hold him up on the second mark as well, since the choreography is flashy and eye-catching. Good speed and power, too.

Jason Wong (2): Spanish medley. 3f, 2x, flying camel, 3z/3t fell out of the second jump (he almost hit the boards), edgy steps, 3r, MITF section with spread eagle, spiral, ina, falling leaf, lunge; spin combination with a hop? (can't read my notes here), pop z, back spiral with a hand down on the ice pulling into a back upright spin, 3t/2t, straight-line steps, 3s, deathdrop and a butterfly into a fast back scratch spin. Jason looked like he was having a great time skating in front of his friends and was obviously pleased with his performance. I think if he'd landed either the triple/triple combination or the second lutz cleanly, he would have placed ahead of Andrei. He's really coming along nicely in terms of both his technical content and his presentation. You can really see Mark Mitchell's influence on him.

Nathan Evancho (3): no music notes. 3z/2t, 2x fall, 3f, fly sit fell out, serpentine steps, 3r, back sit spin, 3z, 3t/2t, out-of-control spin combination, pop x, upright spin, straight-line steps with a cool lunge move, 3s, split jump fell out, butterfly upright spin. So here we have the paradox of a skater looking not at all impressive in spite of landing 6 clean triples. Aside from the troubles with his spins and blowing both his double axel attempts, there were problems with his speed, carriage, and extension that permeated the entire program.

Nick Santillo (4): "Zorro". Death drop, 2z, 2x, 2t, 3s steps 2t, st spin, MITF, 2r, 2f, spin comination, straight-line steps, 2x nasty fall, 2f, pop z, split, flying camel.

Matthew Blumenfeld (5): "Count of Monte Cristo"? He's filled out since last year and, with a beard, looks too old for a junior now. 3t, 3z maybe two-footed/2t, 3s, flying camel very weak, straight-line steps, 2f, 2x turn out, 2s, 3t, 2z, camel/sit/back sit, circular steps, 2x, death drop. The jumps he landed were all of the "just barely" type, and I noted problems with poor posture and labored stroking. Still, this is a big improvement over when I last saw him at last year's regionals.

Roman Vickers (6): "Malaguena". 3s/1t, a flying camel that actually flew!, 2z, fast skating into 2x, 2r, single axels in both directions (I think), 2f, circular steps with lunges, camel/sit/catch/back sit, spread eagle into 2s, 1x (this one looked like a pop), deathdrop fell and then improvised with a back scratch and then a forward scratch spin in the other direction. He looked like he was enjoying himself.

Justin Clements (7): unknown movie music. Camel/sit/back camel/sit, 2x very high, 2z/2t, straight-line steps to music, pop s, 2r, 3t fall, death drop, nice edgy steps, 2z, circular steps with a lot of one-foot turns, 2f, spread eagle, scratch spin. Nice stroking and edge quality.

Junior Ladies Free Skate

This was a closely-contested event and I thought the top three skaters could reasonably have placed in any order.

Jessica Houston (1): "Caravan" with a lot of drums. 3t/2t, 2f/2t, camel/sit/layback/back pretzel spin, 3r fell (but almost had it), layback, effective ina/besti squat/spread eagle, 3s, straight-line steps without much speed, stag jump into 3t, walleys into 2x, steps into 2z, flying camel/sit/catch-foot. Looking at my notes now, I think her varied jump entries must have given her the edge here.

Brianna Perry (2): No music notes. 3z fall (but it looked like a nice entry from where I was sitting), 3s, 2x, steps in about half a circle, 3t, flying sit that both flew and sat, 3s/1t, spirals, 2f, flying camel, straight-line steps with an inside axel(?), walleys in opposite directions into 2x fall, camel/sit/back sit. Strong basic skating, but the program seemed kind of oddly constructed to me. For instance, two flying spins but no layback, and such a simplistic spin combination?

Katie Thordarson (3): "Vaguely Spanish", I wrote for her music. 3z fall 2t (but another good attempt), 3t, 2x, flying camel, sit/back sit/scratch, 2r, 2s, spirals, layback, straight-line steps, 3t/2t, camel/sit/layback/back sit/scratch. Definitely the most powerful skater of the top three, and the fastest spinner, but a couple of her jump landings were not secure and there were some other wobbles here and there.

Michelle Boulos (4): 2x overrotated step out, fast skating, 2z/2t, 3s turn out, circular steps, another flying sit that both flew and sat in the air, 3t, 3r fall, layback nice, walleys into a 2f with delayed rotation, spirals, camel/layback/biellmann/back sit/scratch.

Sarah Farley (5): "Rhapsody in Blue". layback, 2x/2t, steps into 3t steps 2t, fell out of spin, 2f, 2s, 2r/2r, fast skating into spirals, 2z, 3t underrotated and landed on the wrong foot, straight-line steps, 1x, split jump, camel/sit/back sit/catch-foot, flying camel.

Senior Men Free Skate

Scott Smith (1): A modern saxophone concerto, wearing basic black with silver accents. 3x, 3t/3t, 4s a little hooked on the landing but basically clean (I only saw this because he did it right in front of me), flying camel, walley, 3z, straight-line steps, 3r, slow footwork and edgy steps, outside-edge camel very nice, pop x, edgy steps, 3f, death drop, spread eagles into 3s (this looked like an intentional triple), camel with butterflies into a back sit. He looks ready for Nebelhorn to me, and this has the potential to be a really nice program. Scott seems to be making real progress in skating more into his knees and being more fluid in his movements in the connecting choreography, but I thought that when he was setting up his jumps he was still reverting to old habits of shallow stroking and stiff hands.

Shaun Rogers (2): Techno music with a heavy beat. Crouching moves on two feet, fast skating into 3t (was intended to be a quad attempt, I think), 3x step out, more two-foot crouching moves, 3s, death drop, 3x hung on, circular steps, 3r hand down, change sit, 2z, more fast skating, 2f, saggy camel/sit/back sit, straight-line steps, barrel rolls, butterfly spin, scratch. Well, better than last season's performances, but I get the impression that Shaun is focusing so much on his axel and quad toe that his other content is suffering.

Ian MacAdam (3): camel/sit/hop/sit/upright spin very well done, 2x wild landing, 2s, 2z/2t, straight-line steps, 2f landed then fell, flying sit wonderful, edgy steps that included a loop figure directly into a counter or something like that, sit spins in opposite directions, circular steps, 2r, what I think was a sit spin into a back cross-foot sit spin into a regular back sit spin (if I'm deciphering the scribbling in my notes correctly), spread eagles, 2t, split jump, 1x, walley, split jump, flying camel with a layover position. You don't watch Ian's programs for the jumps, but I'm always interested to see what other moves he is going to come up with.

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