by Doris Spicer Pulaski
(20 January 2013) When the compulsory dances were eliminated from junior and senior competition, they were reborn as the first two segments of Novice competitions, the pattern dances. Pattern dances have the exact same steps as the old compulsory dances, but they are judged on a completely different basis. Each dance is broken into six sequences, and each sequence is assigned three key points. Winning a pattern dance is as much about hitting every key point precisely as it is about skating the pattern with speed or portraying the character of the dance correctly.
Dancers must be prepared to skate any of three different pattern dances, chosen for the year. At Omaha, the first dance chosen was the Starlight Waltz, which should be skated with the same character as a Viennese Waltz, as though the dancers were performing in a grand ballroom, with the emphasis on lovely leg extensions and an aura of elegance. The second dance picked was the Paso Doble, where the emphasis is on power and drama. It can be presented in flamenco style or in the style of music found in bull fighting.
Because these dances have such different requirements, it was not a surprise that placements changed radically between the first and second pattern dances. The new team of Tory Patsis, 17, & Joseph Johnson, 18, who are coached by Patti Gottwein and Trina Pratt, won both pattern dances with a total score of 43.73. In the Starlight Waltz, the greater power and skating skills of the team gave them a narrow advantage over the Wheaton Academy based team of Gigi Becker, age 10, and Luca Becker, age 12, who skated their Waltz to "Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles, wearing psychedelic costumes.
The younger couple showed the fine ability to hit key points that we have come to expect from the students of Alexei Kiliakov, Elena Novak, and Dmytri Ilin. The brother and sister team earned 14.40 base value points for hitting the most key points of the first pattern dance, compared to only a base value of 12.70 for Patsis & Johnson. However, they were awarded lower scores for all the PCS components, earning 15.63 to the winner of Midwestern Sectionals' score of 16.09. As a result, their final score was 21.07.
Third place in the Starlight Waltz was won by Sammi Wren & Alexey Shchepetov, of the Philadelphia SC & HS, with a score of 20.40. The students of Slava Uchitel skated a confident pattern with good power and edging, hitting the same number of key points as the winners.
Fourth place went to Chloe Lewis & Logan Bye, students of Judy Blumberg and Ikaika Young . The twelve year old Lewis and fourteen year old Bye earned the highest PCS for the Starlight Waltz, but in three of the six sequences, they failed to hit any of the key points, resulting in a base value of only 9.50.
Sarah Feng & Anthony Ponomarenko, ages 13 and 12, who are coached by Anthony's mother, Marina Klimova, finished in fifth place in the Starlight Waltz with a score of 20.07.
Patsis & Johnson won the second pattern dance with a score of 22.28, for a total score for the event of 43.73. Second place in the Paso Doble was claimed by Bye & Lewis with a score of 21.01, for a total score of 41.25.
In the second pattern dance, the Beckers did not show their characteristic accuracy with key points and dropped from second place in the Starlight Waltz to fifth in the Paso Doble, since they had significantly lower skating skills than the higher placed couples. Overall, after the event, they had earned third place overall with a score of 40.94.
Sammi Wren & Alexey Shchepetov dropped to fifth place in the Paso Doble, for an overall fourth place finish and score of 40.29
Sarah Feng & Anthony Ponomarenko, who are very young, struggled with properly presenting the strutting nature of the Paso Doble, and dropped to eighth in this part of the competition, for an overall score of 38.70.
The most accurate Paso Doble of the event was skated by Katherine Gourianova of the Washington FSC & Alexander Petrov of the Hershey FSC. They earned 15.50 in base points and 20.06 for the second dance. It is not surprising that the students of Oleg Petrov and Maria Pocheykina displayed a nice touch with the Paso Doble: their free dance is a Paso Doble. However, their Starlight Waltz program, skated to Le Hijo de Luna, only earned them ninth place. Overall, their score going into the free dance is 38.37, and they are in sixth place overall.
Because of the different problems of the second through sixth place teams, they enter the free dance with slightly over two points difference for the five couples. All are in position to earn a medal, if they skate well in the free dance.
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