Hometown Favorites Lead Novice Pairs

Christopher Pottenger and Sydney Schmidt

Solid skating defined the pairs short program Sunday at the 2003 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Reunion Arena in Dallas.

Sydney Schmidt and Christopher Pottenger (Dallas FSC) claimed first in the short program with a nice lift and good unison in front of a hometown crowd. Their free skate will be done to "Romeo and Juliet," which, according to coach David Kirby, is good music for their skating style.

"They have a sophisticated look," he said. "Their style and nice lines work really well with that music."

Katelyn Uhlig and Colin Loomis (Ann Arbor FSC) placed second in the short in their first trip to the U.S. Championships. Both Uhlig and Loomis have skated with other partners but have been together for about two-and-a-half years. While the lifts and throws in pairs skating can be scary, Uhlig said she's never worried on the ice.

"I'm usually the one saying to throw me higher," she said.

Third place in the short program went to Bridget Namiotka (SC of Wilmington) and Alex Merritt (Denver FSC). One highlight of their program was a tremendously high double twist. The pair said that their free skate on Monday will feature a triple twist. Learning the triple twist can be a dangerous business for the male partner.

"Sometimes she hits me in the ear with her elbow, and I have a couple of scars on my chest from learning the triple twist," Merritt said. "But no matter what, I have to catch her."

The pairs free skate will be Monday at 1 p.m. at Reunion Arena.