Miller and Brubaker Take the Lead in Junior Pairs Competition

by Michelle Wojdyla, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Mariel Miller and Rockne Brubaker,
photo by Michelle Harvath

Junior Pairs Short Program Results
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(1/11/05) — The 2005 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships junior pairs short program took place at Memorial Coliseum Tuesday evening. Mariel Miller & Rockne Brubaker (Broadmoor SC) took eight of the nine first-place marks with their “Romeo and Juliet” program. Chloe Katz & Joseph Lynch (SC of New York) took the remaining first-place ordinal and second overall to the music “Eclipse” from Cirque du Soleil. Julia Vlassov & Drew Meekins from Elite Training Academy were third to their program to Vanessa Mae's “Picante.”

Miller and Brubaker looked strong and confident. The experience they received from their year on the Junior Grand Prix circuit showed. Not only were their technical elements the most difficult performed, but their power, speed, and security made them enjoyable to watch.

“I felt really confident because after being overseas there wasn't as much pressure,” Miller said. “We were in our home country, which is really a comfortable feeling out there.”

“Especially because we've had the opportunity to do a lot of bigger competitions,” Brubaker said, “it feels more like a practice, rather than a competition.”

Asked if training in Colorado Springs' altitude helped them when they got to Portland, both answered quickly and simultaneously: “A lot!”

“I didn't even feel tired at all during the short,” Brubaker said.

After a snappy split double twist, their rotational lift traveled smoothly and easily, covering a lot of ice. The completed a throw triple toe, side-by-side double Axels, good side-by-side spins, and a spiral sequence with matching bodylines. The only weak point was their death spiral, which didn't hit the prettiest of positions. The eight judges that had them in first gave them marks in the 5.0 to 5.4 range.

Chloe Katz and Joseph Lynch were still smiling when they spoke to the media almost an hour after they had finished their program.

“That was our best short program," Katz said. “It felt really good. After the double Axel, it's such a relief.”

Katz and Lynch opened their program with a throw triple toe, a jump they've had an interesting history with recently.

“We had it…over the summer…for about a week,” Katz smiled. “And then we lost it. Then we had it for two days about a month ago. Now we've had it for two weeks.”

“It definitely set the tone for our program,” Lynch said.

Their program flew by, excitement building as they checked off the elements. Side-by-side double Axels and a lasso to one-arm lift were the highlights of the program. Katz floated over the ice, her arm arched above her head, her smile beaming across the packed crowd. Their back inside death spiral had a nice arch to it and their final combination spin was very fast.

An odd twist of ordinals put Vlassov and Meekins into third. They had one second-place ordinal and the rest were fourth to eighth.

For the first time in competition at these championships, a lady wore pants rather than a skirt. Vlassov's costume was identical to Meekins'—a black unitard with jeweled-tone decorations.

“I guess I wanted to try to be a little bit different from everyone else,” Vlassov said. “We just decided pants would work better with this music.”

Their program got off to a rough start when their side-by-side jumps went awry. Vlassov singled her Axel and Meekins took a hard fall on his attempt at a double. Their throw toe was tough to determine if it was a double or a triple, and their side-by-side spins were far apart and not in sync until they switched to the sit position. Their double twist was nice, with Vlassov's arm raised on the catch. Overall the program looked rushed, but the couple explained that this is a new program.

“Our other program didn't seem to work,” Vlassov said.

Fortunately, they didn't find the creation of a new short program to be too difficult.

“I guess it was a little hard,” Meekins said, “but all the elements are the same, so it's not like creating a new program.”

After a day off from competition, the junior pairs event concludes Thursday afternoon at the Rose Garden.