2003 U.S. Championships Kick Off with Novice Dance

Meghan McCullough and Joel Dear

Ties were the story of the day at the novice dance compulsories Sunday at the 2003 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Reunion Arena in Dallas.

Meghan McCullough (Washington FSC) and Joel Dear (Indiana World Skate Academy) are one team tied for first place after the two compulsory dances. They skated the first dance, the European Waltz, cleanly. Early in the second dance Dear got behind McCullough, but they pulled it together and the remainder of the second dance went well. However, the mistake left them in second place for the blues dance.

"We had one bobble, which was strange because we've never had that problem before," McCullough said. "But we got back into it."

Trina Pratt and Todd Gilles (Broadmoor SC) are also tied for first. They placed second in the European Waltz, then came back to place first in the blues dance.

Third placed ended in a tie as well. Samantha Cepican (Skokie Valley SC) and Phillip Lichtor (The SC of Boston) placed third in the European Waltz, then fourth in the blues dance after a slight bobble.

Coach Ron Kravette, a two-time U.S. ice dancing medalist, said it was interesting that the mistake came on the blues dance, which is the team's favorite of the two compulsory dances.

"I think they were just anticipating the next element and lost their concentration," he said.

Shannon Wingle and James Warren (Detroit SC) placed fourth in the first dance, then third in the second dance to tie for third. Warren came to the United States in 2002 from Britain to find an ice dancing partner. After contacting several ice dancing coaches, he found Wingle. Only skating together for seven months, the team was pleased with their finish after the compulsory dances.

"We were very pleased to get to nationals and with how we skated today," Warren said.

The compulsory dance counts for 50 percent of the total novice dance scores. The free dance for the novice teams is scheduled for 11:10 a.m., Monday, Jan. 13.