Matthews and Zavozin Capture Junior Dance Gold

Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin

The new 2003 U.S. junior dance champions, Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin, skated to "Phantom of the Opera" but avoided the more traditional Andrew Lloyd Webber version. The Eastern Sectional champions skated with good speed and drama throughout their program. Their coach, Elena Garanina, who skated for Russia with her ex-husband Igor Zavozin, created both their programs. She's also Maxim's mother.

This team is well matched and their multilevel lift near the program's end was very effective. They also won the original dance but placed fourth in both compulsories.

"We practice compulsories for three hours a day on the ice and one hour off every day," Garanina said.

Zavozin, 17, began skating when he was 13 and said he's worked very hard to get to the level he's at in just four years. Although they train in Florida, they both skate for the SC of New York.

"It's a great club," Matthews said. "This partnership began with the partnership tryouts at 2001 nationals in Boston. I then went to Florida for another tryout and we became a team.";

The silver medalists, Kirsten Frisch and Brent Bommentre, skated to "Hotel Costes" by Malcolm McLauren, a program choreographed by Nathan Birch. This team dropped to second place in the free dance after leading overall through the original dance. Their dance was well skated but was a less complicated program than the ones by some of the other teams.

"This is the best we have ever skated this program," Frisch said.

"We played our hand and skated the best we could. Things are then out of our power and up to the judges," Bommentre added.

Flo Steed and Augie Hill chose a Latin rhythm this season, one of their favorites, as they opted to skate to a Ricky Martin medley that features "La Vida Loca," "A Medio Vivir," and "The Cup of Life." Their coach, Warren Maxwell, also creates their choreography. This Dallas team had a good draw and skated last in the 12-team field. They had several innovative moves but also had a few minor glitches.

"It felt really good and really solid out there," Steed said.

"The free dance is not the strongest part of our repertoire, but we did the best we could and showed a lot of energy so I'm happy with what we did," Hill added.

Carly Donowick and Leo Ungar performed their free dance to "Kismet" by the Swedish group, Bond, that was choreographed by World and Olympic champion Marina Klimova. This team trains with Klimova's husband and partner, Sergei Ponomarenko, and are the current 2003 Pacific Coast Sectional champions. They had lots of complicated handholds, but the complexity of the program also slowed them down which could have affected their marks.

by Marge Reynolds