I attended the Skating Club of Boston's 2008 Nationals Send-Off Exhibition on January 11. Most of the skaters had also done the sectionals show, and/or I'd seen them at competitions earlier in the season, so I won't be repetitive with comments.
This time the show started out with the two novice dance teams, both performing their free dances. Donegan & Korda seemed to me to be the stronger of the two teams, or at least they have a better program (set to a techno vocal version of the Albinoni adagio). McDermott & McManus skated a disco-type program that I noted as having a lot of side-by-side skating, plus it still seems that they can't really do the cantilever lift they're attempting. Both teams had some troubles with labored twizzles, partnering issues, etc -- but they're novices, so that's to be expected.
Gretchen Donlan, who surprised me by being able to qualify for Nationals at all without a triple jump in her repertoire, was next, once again skating her Nutcracker free skate, and once again without a triple. At least her double axel is looking more secure and less barely-squeaked-out than it was earlier in the season. She still has this very long, curved entry to it, though.
Novice man Ross Miner came after this, with his Gershwin free skate. He's still really all about the jumps; in this case, 2x, 3f/3t almost into the boards, 3z fall out, 3r, 3z/2t, 3s, 3f. His attempts at interpretation included fiddling with his costume and rubbing his hair. OK, at least he's trying to put some life into the program.
Brittney Rizo once again skated her "Malaguena" program; her jumps were 3r, 3f fall, 3t/2t/2r, 2x out of a spread eagle, 3s/2t, 3t, walleys into 3s. Although it wasn't a bad performance in terms of jump content, she seemed sluggish and lacking in her usual spark. I wondered if she might have been sick, or just getting tired of this program, or what.
Junior man Curran Oi skated his short program to music from "Phantom of the Opera", with a mask pattern on his gloves that he waved in front of his face throughout the program. Jumps were 2x, 3f/3t, 3r -- again, a good program jump-wise, but the choreography seemed to consist of pointless thrashing, the glove thing seemed like a gimmick, the step sequences seemed labored and had nothing to do with the music, and the program as a whole was pretty blah. I think Curran would do a lot better with a program where he could hold out his positions and demonstrate some big, sweeping moves, than with all this frantic thrashing. Insert my usual rant about COP-induced choreography here.
After this we had the club's two pair teams, both performing their short programs. As I reported from the sectionals show, the novice team, Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir, are actually stronger than the junior team, Molly and Chris Schleicher. Fortunately the Schleichers were not as scary to watch this time around.
Next was a skater I'd never seen before, Dana Zhalko-Tytarenko, who I discovered via a Google search is last year's Canadian junior champion, and competing as a senior lady this year. It seems odd that she wasn't sent out on the JGP, and I don't know what her connection to Boston is. Anyway, she skated her free skate, to an Aram Khachaturian medley. 3t/2t, 3t, 2x, 3s, 3s/2t, 2f/2t, 2x fell out. She doesn't skate with a lot of speed, and wasn't able to hit the fashionably "bendy" positions in her spirals and spins; in fact, her layback had hardly any "lay" in the back. OTOH, her death drop had an impressive hang to it.
Stephen Carriere was up next, with his jazzy free skate. 3x/2t, 3t/2t/2r with arm variations, hops into 3z, 3f, 3x step out, 3z/2t, 3r turn out, 3s. Once again I was impressed by what a big step up he's taken with his skating this season. He's skating with a lot of confidence and seems very focused.
Katrina Hacker skated her "Aranjuez" free skate. Jumps were 3t/2t/2r, questionable 3z/2t, 3r, 3t, 3s, 2x, 2x step out. My eyes kind of bugged out at the lutz, since I'd not seen that from her before and she did it in the corner where I couldn't get a very good view, but wandering by after the show I thought I could pick out her tracings, and alas, I could see that it was both flutzed and marginally cheated. Still, a performance like this could very well put her in the top 10 at Nationals.
Notably missing from the show: Scott Smith. I'd heard through the grapevine that he's no longer being coached by Mark and Peter, although it didn't sound like he had lined up another permanent coach yet. I'd thought for some time that it must have been a difficult situation for him to be passed up by Stephen Carriere, who as I noted is really improving while Scott has stayed pretty much at the same level he's been at for the last few years. Anyway, I recall that at previous shows they have been careful to announce club skaters who were not able to skate in the show, and that was not done here, so it seems like he's left the club for good. We'll have to see what happens next.
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