Novice Compulsory Dance Kicks Off State Farm U.S. Championships

by Sal Zanca, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Jane Summersett and Elliot Pennington
Photo by Paul Harvath


(1/4/04) — Less than a year old, the Gwinnett Arena opened the 2004 State Farm U.S. Championships Sunday morning with the novice dance compulsories.

The European Waltz - arguably the simplest of the ice dances - started things off. The European Waltz was the opening dance in lastyear's novice also.

However with all the dozen couples doing the same steps, one looks for the slighest variations at the start or end of their routines.

Jane Summersett (New England FSC) and  Elliot Pennington (SC of Boston) stood out twice. First he did a spead eagle in the finish of the European Waltz, and she did a deep back bend during the backward slide steps of the Paso Doble.

And so they lead overall with a second place in the waltz and first in the Paso Doble.

Not bad for two skaters who both spent a lot of time searching for other partners.

"After  contemplating options we decided to skate together, and it worked out," said Pennington, who is not related to men's figure skaters Colin and Parker.

Both Pennington and Summersett are 16 with Summersett's birthday just a few weeks ago on Christmas Eve.They wanted things to be different because the dances are so much the same.

"The European Waltz is a pain in the neck because it's the same steps over and over and over again," he said.

Pennington ended with a flourish with his spread eagle at the end of the waltz.

"It was part of the choreography for the ending," he added.

Then her back bend was eye-catching, and they credited a member of the staff of the Skating Club of Boston for it.

"We actually have to credit Mr. Tom McGinnis," he said. "He used it with one of his teams many many years ago. We actually got permission to use the move and figured it would be pretty interesting instead of the usual arms."

They have been skating together since last January. "We actually had our tryout a year before and had a number of tryouts with other people and each other," Pennington said. "At that point we didn't decide to skate with each other. Both of us had other partners in mind, neither of  which worked out for both of us.

Lauren Capehart (Dallas FSC) and Stephen Chasman (Broadmoor SC), who are in second, have skated together four months. "I actually said. 'Hello. My name is Lauren and we are going to skate together,'" Capehart said. "I knew a coach who knew him, and she told us about each other."

They actually won the first dance but were fourth in the second dance.     

"That is disappointing," Chasman said. "There was more tension and less speed in the second dance."

Third were Adrienne Koob-Doddy (Peninsula SC)  and Robert Antonelli (Philadelphia SC and HS). They were the highest ranking finishers from the 2003 U.S. Championships to return, coming in fifth last year.

In contrast to the other  top couples, they have been together five years, moving up through the juvenile and intermediate ranks together.

"[We have a] friendship and ... we communicate very well together and have fun." Koob-Doddy said. "We just stick it out and don't lose faith with each other and see what we can do together." The two compulsory dances at the national level account for 50 percent of the total novice ice dance scores.  The event concludes with the free dance on Monday Jan. 5, at  11:20 a.m. EST.