Tuesday, January 25, 2011

US Nationals: Novice Recap

Nathan Chen was able to defend his title and did so in grand fashion, winning by nearly 36 points.  Though only 11 years old, he outshone the field with his stellar performance skills and incredible jumps and spins.  He has already said that he'll be competing as a junior next season and his coach says he can do triple axels on the floor.  His jump arsenal is already impressive with a double axel-double loop-double loop and six triples in his free skate.  If he can stay with the sport (he also plays piano and does gymnastics) and survive growth spurts that throw off jumps he could easily be a top competitor in the senior division nationally and internationally in only a few years.  Luckily for the junior and senior men, he's not eligible for the Olympics until 2018.

Jordan Moeller and Nix Phengsy were separated by only .37 points to take home the silver and bronze respectively.  Moeller won intermediate gold and Phengsy silver last season and are quickly climbing the ranks.  They both had impressive elements and a few errors but overall had solid performances for an impressive level of competition for the novice level.

The Midwestern ladies swept the podium at nationals.  Hannah Miller skated an impressive free skate to move up from 3rd to win gold.  She has a grace on the ice far beyond her 14 years and zips through her programs with great jumps and elegant spins.  She also has a ton of personality on the ice and is enjoyable to watch.  She hit four triples in her free skate.

Barbie Long won silver with perhaps the most technically demanding free skate including a double axel-triple toe (an element that many senior ladies don't execute).  While she has great jumps, she could improve on her performance skills her spins and her transitions but she is still young and has plenty of time to develop these skills.

Mariah Bell is a bundle of cuteness and skated a flawless short program to lead going into the free skate.  She will need to up her technical ante as she only had two triples in her free skate if she wants to keep pace with Miller and Long.  All of these girls have very ambitious goals and I can't wait to see them on the Junior Grand Prix.

Aaron and Settlage won the Pairs title by over 14 points despite Madeline's 102 degree fever.  They've only been together six months but have the most difficult elements and look the most secure and polished in the field.  They were the only one to successfully land a throw triple and unlike other teams, their throws had height to them.  At 16 and 18 their ages are also compatible for international competition and they have a good number of years of junior eligibility ahead of them.  I think they could really make a splash on the Junior Grand Prix next season and if they stay together they could be the next big US Pairs team.

Liu and Perini won the silver.  She is just 11 years old and he's 17.  Right now their height difference is a little awkward but it does give them the advantage in completing difficult elements that other teams don't execute.  He doesn't really throw her in the throw jumps currently, but I'd love to seem them execute these when they're more secure because he could really toss her.  I'm not sure what their future plans are as she's too young to compete internationally and he only has 4 years of junior level eligibility left.

Goldberg and Dolkiewicz have already been together for three years.  They skated a fun free program to win the bronze medal.  At 14 and 18 they are another team that is close enough in age to have options for international assignments and has several years in front of them to develop and reach the top ranks of the senior level.

The Parsons siblings have only been skating together since this season.  At 13 and 15 they were able to claim the novice dance title.  They have some very interesting elements, great flexibility, secure lifts and a nice presence on the ice.  They plan to move up to juniors and are looking forward to international assignments.  With a deep ice dance field, this team is just young enough to be ready to take over the reigns when some of the current top dance teams are ready to retire.  They were also one of the youngest teams in the field and have a lot of time to really develop on top of the good technical basics they already have.

I like the intensity and performance quality of silver medal winners Mancini and Brooks but they have a height difference that makes many of their holds look extremely awkward and distorts many of their frames. 

Hawayek and Bramante were one of my favorite teams in the event and I think they have a great look on the ice from their costumes to their movement and performance quality.  She needs to work on not over performing and making the movements cleaner but I think there is definite potential with this team and they took home the bronze medal.

All three of these teams have only begun skating together this season, so it will be interesting to see how they develop their partnerships and increase their connection with each other in the future.

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