Capehart and Chasman Find Treasure in Novice Dance

by Sal Zanca, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Lauren Capehart and Stephen Chasman
Photo by Paul Harvath


(1/5/04) —  Four months ago Lauren Capehart (Dallas FSC) and Stephen Chasman (Broadmoor SC) skated together for the first time.

Now they are U.S. ice dancing champions.

"The goal was, that if we had only four months - just make the nationals," said the team's coach, Sandy Hess. "And anything they did beyond that was icing on the cake."

The 16-year-old Capehart and 20-year-old Chasman skated to music from "Pirates of the Caribbean" and were on from the start. Their flow was superior to the rest of the teams, and they finished with an extra thrill.

"I get to stab him at the end," Capehart said. "It's quite fun."

They had some moves that looked familiar.

"The hydroblade lift we do is similar to the one Tanith (Belbin) and Ben (Agosto) do where we go down and I flip her over," Chasman said.

Others were different.

"We are trying to come up with really unique moves that would set us apart," Chasman said.

"We should probably come up with some names," Capehart added.

Chasman also has had a unusual combination of coaches - he has trained under Americans, Britons and Russians. There is a difference with how they teach.

"I would have to say with the stroking [there is a difference]," he said.

"Different turnouts,  different leg positions, different tempos," she said. "I really like the British style of skating - lead hip and the kind of extension we can get - which is the same style Torvill and Dean had."

As for next year, Hess had a prophetic statement.

"The fact that they come as fast as they have together in four months bodes well for what they can do in juniors," Hess said.

Overnight leaders Jane Summersett (New England FSC) and Elliot Pennington (SC of Boston) appeared to be on their way to gold medal when disaster struck about 20 seconds from the end. On the diagonal footwook sequence she had just finished a mini-jump when she went down to the ice and took him down with her - a rare double fall in ice dancing. They have fallen before together but never so late in the program.

"We fell in a convenient place," Pennington said. "We fell close to each other. It would have been a lot more difficult if it happened in another place when we were gliding along."

Still, due to excellent edging they came within one second-place vote of winning, losing out on a majority of seconds to the winners. Emily Samuelson, 13, and Evan Bates, 14, both from the Ann Arbor FSC, jumped from fifth place to third. They skated second in the next-to-last group.

They got into skating in an unusual way with coaches Yasa Natchaeva and Iouri Tchesnitchenko.

"When our coaches came to America, my mom knew them and was interested in them so we signed up for lessons and they accepted us," Bates said.