by Doris Spicer Pulaski
(20 January 2013) Kaitlin Budd, 16, from the Detroit SC and Nikita Cheban, 20, from the Washington FSC, were the surprise winners of the novice pairs short program. The students of Jason Dungjen and Sergei Petrovsky scored 36.42, skating to a modern version of the blues standard, "Summertime."
The new team, who won the Eastern sectionals competition, presented a powerfully skated program which featured a level 4 double twist, the competition's only completed double axel, and a top notch throw triple salchow. Nikita put his hand on the ice during the landing of their side by side double axel , the only serious flaw in their routine.
While Budd & Cheban included harder elements, the team of Christina Zaitsev, age 13, and Ernie Utah Stevens,age 19, both of Indiana World Sk Acad FSC, used a completely different strategy to earn 35.21 points, leaving them in a close second place, less than a point and half behind the leaders. The students of Coaches: Sergei Zaitsev and , Elena Zaitsev improved their score from Midwestern sectionals by 5.35 by executing easier elements very well, with good speed, unison, and compelling choreography to "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" by Abba, as performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, which earned the bronze medalists from Midwestern sectionals the highest PCS score of the event. The technical highlights of their routine were a level 4 straight line step sequence, done perfectly to their music,which included multiple twizzles, and a level 4 combination spin with a flying entrance. Their routine had two serious flaws: they were unable to meet the requirements for a basic level back outside death spiral because they did not hold the required low position for a full revolution , and they received an edge call on their side by side double flip.
Elise Middleton, Los Angeles FSC and Robert Hennings, Los Angeles FSC are currently in third place, with a score of 33.74. The gold medalists from the Pacific Sectionals skated to "The Skater's Waltz," in a graceful routine that included lovely changes of hold that would not be out of place in an ice dance program. The students of Peter Oppegard and Karen Kwan Oppegard earned the second highest program component scores of the event.
Aya Takai, Detroit SC, and Brian Johnson, Detroit SC earned fourth place with a score of 32.32 points, and are less than a point and a half out of the bronze medal position. Aya has made the unusual transition from ice dancing to pairs. At last year's US Nationals, Aya and her previous partner, Jason Cohn, placed sixth in Juvenile ice dance at U.S. Junior Nationals in December 2011. She also qualified for the December 2011 US Junior Nationals in Intermediate Ladies. Aya & Brian skated an entertaining routine to Big Band swing where her dance background was very evident.
Fifth place was earned by Sophia Dai, Arctic FSC and Jeffrey Fishman, Arctic FSC who earned 30.89 points by skating a carefree program to "The Addams Family" soundtrack. Thirteen year old Sophia Dai, wearing pigtails, and a very short skirted gray dress with white collar and cuffs, made a very convincing Wednesday Addams.
and Noah Chinault, from the
Southwest Florida FSC, scored
26.64 points to finish sixth.
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