Davis and Miller Claim First Gold Medal At 2005 State Farm U.S. Championshipsby Michelle Wojdyla, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
|Claire Davis and Nathan Miller|
Photo by Paul Harvath
(1/10/05) — The first gold medal was awarded Monday at the 2005 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Portland, Ore. The novice pairs event concluded with Claire Davis (Colorado SC) and Nathan Miller (Broadmoor SC) taking the title with a first place in the free skate to match their first in the short. Bianca Butler and Joseph Jacobsen (All Year FSC) made third time the charm as they moved up from back-to-back seventh place finishes in Atlanta and Dallas to capture the silver medal. Lisa Moore and Nicolas Girardi (ISC of Fort Collins) won bronze ahead of Molly Aaron (Coyotes SC of Arizona) and Taylor Toth (Pittsburgh FSC), who placed fourth.
Davis and Miller's program to “Prince of Egypt” was packaged with elements that were very ISU new judging system-friendly. Even though the U.S. Championships are contested under the 6.0 system, their coach/choreographer Dalilah Sappenfield helped shape a program that was cognizant of the importance of transitions and multiple changes of position in highlight moves.
“We have dance coaches who work with our pairs team to make it smoother,” Sappenfield said.
“It's really exciting,” Davis said of the victory. “We've been training really hard the last few months and it's nice to see all our work pay off.”
Side-by-side double Axels and side-by-side double flips into double toes punctuated a program that included a double twist with a unique entrance, a throw double Salchow with a swoosh landing, a star lift with a flip out exit, and the impressive overhead lift to one-arm star with three changes of position.
While some competitors hide in the back before their turn on the ice, Davis and Miller, who drew last, stayed near the boards.
“I actually like to watch the skaters before us,” Davis said. “We see what we need to do.”
“It motivates us,” Miller added.
Miller has been one of the busiest skaters in Portland, competing in both novice pairs and novice dance with partner Stacy Kim. Asked if he finds it difficult juggling two women, Miller laughed.
“It seems like they both kind of have the same personality,” Miller said. “It's not too hard.”
Davis gave special mention of someone who helps inspire him to keep up this pace — Rockne Brubaker, a fellow Broadmoor pairs man.
“I look up to Rockne because he's a great skater,” Miller said. “I think he's amazing.”
Californians Butler and Joseph stole two first-place ordinals from Davis and Miller with their dramatic program to “Spartacus.” Their speed across the ice was first rate, flying into moves like their lasso lift with flip out exit.
“It's much easier to go faster,” Butler explained. “It helps with the momentum.”
Their pair camel, with legs stretched unbelievably high, was simply stunning. Both skaters gave credit to a lot of stretching for allowing them such extension. They were the only team to attempt a triple twist, and although they were short of rotation, their coaches, Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, were supportive.
“We're really proud of them for trying,” Meno said.
“Our triple twist is a new element for us,” Butler said. “It's a little shaky sometimes.”
Although they placed third in the Midwestern Sectional, Moore and Girardi were thrilled to take bronze on the national level. Their program to “Camelot” had smooth throw jumps (a double loop and double Salchow), a lasso/star/platter lift, and death spirals with original entrances like a hand change into the forward inside and a heel stretch into back outside. Their side-by-side spins hurt them, as Moore missed her toe and couldn't catch up to Girardi.
“I was a little off balance when I went into it,” Moore said.
“I was happy I stayed on my feet!” Girardi said.
This is not Girardi's last time on the ice this week, as he is one of the recipients of the U.S. Figure Skating/State Farm Scholastic Honors Team, which will take place at the Rose Garden Saturday night.