Team USA in Kansas for North American Challenge Skate
Photo by Paul Harvath
(8/22/2005) - The U.S. North American Challenge Skate (NACS) Team had a successful debut in Pierrefonds, Canada, over the weekend, taking a 101-86 point lead over Canada heading into the second half of the series. The 2005 NACS Series now moves south for the final event in Overland Park, Kan., Aug. 25-28. Skaters arrive on Aug. 25 for a practice and information session before competition at Pepsi Ice Midwest rink begins on Aug. 26 with novice pairs.
NACS, now in its ninth year, was established by U.S. Figure Skating and Skate Canada in 1997. The series consists of two competitions – one in the United States and one in Canada. The series was created to provide the benefits of international competition to novice level athletes and to help identify future stars. The first trophy was awarded to the U.S. by Skate Canada in 2001 and since then, the U.S. has won every year (2002, 2003 and 2004). In 2003, the point difference was 412 to 332 and in 2004, it was 322 to 193. Only the top three finishers from each country are eligible to receive points.
The U.S. will be represented by a total of 24 athletes making up 17 entries in the Kansas event, while Canada's team is also comprised of 24 athletes in 17 entries. The U.S. athletes represent a total of 11 states with six athletes alone hailing from Massachusetts, three from Pennsylvania and two from the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho and Indiana.
The 2005 U.S. NACS Team was selected based on their placements at the 2005 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the 2005 U.S. Junior Championships and the 2005 sectional championships. All of the skaters competed as novices or intermediates at the national level during the 2004-2005 season. All of the pairs teams headed to Overland Park will be competing in their first NACS event, as well as many of the men.
A strong and experienced junior ladies division will be led by Rachael Flatt, who won the novice gold medal at the 2005 Triglav Trophy. Flatt was also the 2005 U.S. novice champion and 2004 intermediate champion in pairs. Accompanying her to Overland Park will be Caroline Zhang. Zhang won the novice pewter at the 2005 U.S. Championships. She was formerly the 2004 intermediate bronze medalist. The other U.S. skaters heading to Kansas competed as novices at the 2005 U.S. Championships: Kirsten Olson, who placed fifth, and Melissa Bulanhagui, who placed eighth. Zhang competed in the 2004 Waterloo NACS where she won the novice division, while Olson took part in the 2004 San Jose NACS, placing seventh in novice.
Leading the field in the novice men's event will be Richard Dornbush, who placed fifth as a novice at the 2005 U.S. Championships; Nathan Bartholomay, who was seventh; Q. Kelvin Vu, who finished 11th; and Roger Corvasce, who took home 12th. Joining their ranks are fellow competitors Kevin Sun, the 2005 U.S. intermediate champion, and Armin Mahbanoozadeh, the 2005 U.S. intermediate silver medalist. Corvasce competed at the 2004 Waterloo NACS and finished sixth in novice.
As the 2005 U.S intermediate champions, the team of Meg Byrne & Nathan Bartholomay will lead the U.S. pack in Kansas. Bartholomay will not only be competing as a pair, but also as a novice singles skater. Byrne and Bartholomay will be joined by 2005 U.S. intermediate silver medalists Caitlin Yankowskas & Daniyel Cohen. Rounding out the pairs competitors are Molly & Christopher Schleicher, who placed 10th at the 2005 U.S. championships as novices and Kalie Budvarson & Christopher Anders, who were 11th as novices at the 2005 U.S. Championships.
Three junior pairs teams will compete at NACS Overland Park. Competing as novices at the 2005 U.S. Championships were Lilly Pixley & John Salway, finished ninth. Joining them in Overland Park will be Katie Boxwell & Danny Curzon, who placed 11th as juniors at the 2005 U.S. Championships and new team Kendra Moyle and Andy Seitz.