Two Medals for U.S. Skaters in Vienna
|Bronze medalists Hilary Gibbons and Justin Pekarek|
Photo by Michelle Wojdyla
Scott Smith from Boston, pupil of Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson, is a very busy man. From the Campbell's International Figure Skating Classic in New York City he was off to Vienna a week and a half later. Then he discovered he was a late addition to Smart Ones Skate America, and he had to quickly head to Reading, Pa., after the competition in Vienna.
The highlight of his short program in Austria was a quad Salchow-triple toe combination, although it was a bit shaky. His Lutz, however, was only a single, which kept him in fourth place. Before the free skate, he was informed of his assignment to Skate America as a substitute for Timothy Goebel. This motivated him to skate the best free skate in his career. He landed a clean quad Salchow, seven good or even excellent triple jumps, and he made no mistakes at all. Average marks of 5.6 and 5.5 showed that his program was world class. He was able to move up to second place and win the silver.
The winner was France's Frédéric Dambier, who included the same combination as Smith in the short program and a good triple flip out of steps, but he fell on the triple Axel. In the free skate the French skater repeated his short program combination plus three good triples, but made mistakes on three other jumps. His second-place marks helped him hold on to first place.
The second American, Michael Villarreal from California, presented quick spins and steps. The double Axel and the triple flip in his short program were good, but in his combination he could not add a second jump after landing a safe triple Lutz. The first minutes of his free skate were nervous and error-filled, but in the last minute he had the strength to show three triple jumps. He finished 11th.Dance
For both American dance couples, the Vienna Cup was their first international competition together, and both left a very good first impression. Justin Pekarek is a former World Junior champion and a very promising young dancer, but his former partner Jamie Silverstein stopped competitive skating. After a year-long hiatus, he began skating with Hilary Gibbons, who he knew from school - and is his girlfriend.
“She was the only girl who I trust that has the mental strength to skate on a high level," Pekarek said in Vienna.
|Julia and Philipp Rey|
Photo by Michelle Wojdyla
Gibbons was a singles skater at the time, but he convinced her to start a second career with him, although she had never done ice dancing before. Within 18 months she passed all the dance tests and is now close to matching Pekarek's skills. They work with Tom Lescinski in Boston and started their new international career with a bronze medal in Vienna, showing a very dynamic original dance. Their free dance to a modern version of Romeo and Juliet had difficult steps and good presentation. Julia and Philipp Rey were born in Germany, but went to school in Dallas, Texas. Later they wanted to skate for the country of their parents, but the German federation did not accept them because they lived in the U.S. Therefore the brother-and-sister team decided to become Americans because the USA is their home now. They train with Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov in Newark, Del. They've had their American passports since July 1.
Their compulsory dance, the Yankee Polka, was excellent. They showed the special character of this dance better than all other couples.
“Our background with Bavarian folk music and country life in Texas was ideal for this dance," Philipp said with a smile when he saw that they placed second.
Their original dance and free dance (to the well-known music of Spente-le-Stelle with vocals from Emma Shapplin) were also good, but not difficult and quick enough for a medal. Their fourth-place finish was nevertheless a good start for the new Americans.
The winners were Anastasia Grebenkina and Vazgen Azroyan, who have moved from Colorado Springs back to their former hometown of Moscow and skate for Armenia. They showed mature programs but not very difficult steps. At last season's World Championships they were 24th, but they have improved quite a bit.Ladies
Julia Lautowa from Austria won the ladies competition with six triple jumps (four of them clean) and good presentation in her free skate. She no longer trains in Austria but in Moscow, where she had lived until the age of 11 and where her parents still live.
Silver medalist Diana Poth from Hungary had arrived in Vienna from her last competition in Israel just a few hours before the short program. Nevertheless she made no mistake in this part and included a triple toe-triple toe combination.
There was no lady from the USA at the Vienna Cup this year and, as usual, no pairs competition.