Defending U.S. Junior Champs Take Compulsory Dance Lead

by Sal Zanca, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Morgan Matthews and Max Zavozin
Photo by Paul Harvath

Results/Photos/Starting Orders

(1/7/04) — Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin (SC of New York) are in first place after the junior compulsory dances at the State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships Wednesday afternoon. For the rising young dance stars, it is a rare opportunity to see them at a skating competition in the United States.

In fact, the last time they competed in the United States was at last year's U.S. Championships where they won the junior dance. Now they appear on their way to a repeat victory.

Over the past six months, they have trained in Russia and competed in Croatia, Slovakia and Sweden, winning a bronze medal in the Junior Grand Prix Final in December. They had a bye through sectionals because they were competing overseas at the time.

Matthews, 16, and Zavozin, 18, were fourth after the compulsory dances at the U.S. Championships last season, but they went on to take the junior title with firsts in the original and free dance. They know they have improved on the compulsories after receiving marks mostly between 5.0 and 5.3 on both the Viennese Waltz and rhumba.

"We have just worked very hard, and we also have been skating together a little bit longer," Matthews said. "We have gotten more used to the feel of each other ... just another year under our belts has helped us."

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (Detroit SC) were second. White finished third in the novice men competition on Monday. He doesn't find it difficult to make the transition from singles to dance.

"Although it ( the compulsory dance) is confined and controlled, I think just as much goes into it," White said. "In different ways they are consuming but I am used to going from one to the other."

Trina Pratt and Todd Gilles (Broadmoor SC), last year's U.S. novice champions, were third.

The original dance, worth 30 percent, of the overall score, is Thursday at 1:30 p.m.