Novice Ice Dancers Samuelson and Bates Lead at State Farm U.S. Championshipsby Michelle Wojdyla, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
|Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates|
Photo by Michelle Harvath
(1/9/05) — The novice ice dancing event got underway at the 2005 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships Sunday afternoon with the compulsory dance competition. This year's selections were the American Waltz and the Kilian, each worth 25% of the final result. Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates (Ann Arbor FSC) won both dances, taking 14 of the 18 available first-place ordinals.
Below first place, the ordinals were very mixed. Kaitlyn Weaver (Charter Oak FSC) and Charles Clavey (Texas Gulf Coast FSC) placed second in the Kilian (with ordinals that included a first and a last) and fourth in the waltz to place second overall. Pilar Bosley (Peninsula SC) and John Corona (Philadelphia SC & HS) were third in the waltz (with placements from second to 11th) and fourth in the Kilian for third overall. Madison and Keiffer Hubbell (Ann Arbor FSC) were second in the waltz but only sixth in the Kilian, tying them for fourth with Blake Rosenthal and Calvin Taylor (SC of Wilmington) who were third in the Killian and fifth in the waltz.
Samuelson and Bates were clearly the class of the compulsory field. Their technique was superb and their energy was high. When 12 couples perform the same program one after the other, a program like theirs stands out.
“We try to make it as exciting as possible with facial expressions,” Samuelson said.
With elegant posture, they floated through the American Waltz. The silvery seafoam costumes added to the ethereal quality. Deep, secure edges and perfect waltz posture highlighted the dance. Their Kilian was crisp and fast, with a jaunty bounce. They flew around the rink with enough speed to actually create wind.
Minor stumbles in both dances were not enough to detract from the overall quality.
“On the American I kicked the boards and I got a little bit of the board stuck in my toe pick,” Bates explained. “On the Kilian I lost my focus on the beginning of the sixth pattern.”
Both skaters acknowledge that the gold will still be a fight.
“We train with the Hubbells, and they are a very strong team,” Bates said. “We knew it was going to be close.”
Weaver and Clavey's waltz showed a lot of attack, but in a tempo-appropriate way. If the music had not been playing, it would be obvious that they were skating a waltz. Their Kilian showed off their springy knees.
“The Kilian felt really good,” Clavey said.
“Even though we started on the off beat, we recovered well,” Weaver said. “I'd like to think it affected me for the better. It took down my shield. It's pretty hard to stay focused and not let your mind drift.”
Bosley and Corona, who commute up to 90 minutes to train with each other on top of being full- time students, were thrilled to be standing in third.
“It was exciting, nerve wracking—all emotions mixed into one!” Bosley said. “To be honest, I was really nervous. I've never skated in front of a big crowd.”
Skating last in the Kilian was a challenge, as 11 couples before them had skated six patterns each, chewing the ice pretty badly. Both skaters admitted this was not their best but acknowledge compulsory dances in general are important.
“I'm not going to say they're boring,” Corona said with a wry smile. “They have flair.”
“They separate the skill level,” Bosley added.
After only 18 months together, the team is relishing their first time at the U.S. Championships.
“So far, so good!” Bosley said.Novice dance concludes Monday night with the free dance at 9 p.m. Pacific time.