Team USA Wins NACS Trophy in Pittsburgh

Team USA with the NACS trophy
Photo by Justin Dillon

(8/27/06) - The North American Challenge Skate concluded Saturday, Aug. 26, in Pittsburgh with Team USA winning, 223-148, and taking home eight of a possible 12 medals. The U.S.'s dominance was especially evident in junior ladies and novice men, both of which were swept by Americans.

Junior Ladies Free Skate
Michaelee Scarincio was narrowly beaten out by Alexe Gilles in the free skate, 71.67-71.01, but she still retained her hold on first place and came away with the gold medal.

Skating to Nina Rota's “Romeo & Juliet,” Scarincio put out a beautiful program with great choreography, and it showed in her program component scores, which were the highest of the evening. She started the program with a triple Salchow-double toe combination, and along the way landed another triple Salchow as well as a triple toe.

Gilles wasn't quite able to follow the lead of her twin sister, Piper, who won gold in junior ice dancing with Tim McKernan last week at the NACS competition in Vancouver, but her silver medal-winning performance was impressive nonetheless. Her routine began with a triple toe-double toe-double loop combination, on which she touched down with her free foot on the landing of double loop. She executed a smooth triple Salchow-double toe combination, and later pulled off a double axel-double Axel sequence that was the key to the program.

Victoria Rackohn had a rough day, but she ended her program strong and came away with the bronze. Rackohn has a Sasha Cohen-like quality to her skating, with her incredible flexibility and lines. She fell on her first three jump attempts, but rebounded nicely, finishing with a spin combination with change of position and change of foot that received a level 4.

Kelcie Lee took third in the free skate and fourth overall.

Junior Pairs Free Skate
The Canadian team of Kyra Moscovitch and Dylan Moscovitch was clearly the best at this competition. They displayed great difficulty and beautiful execution in their routines. Their free skate included a throw triple loop and a throw triple Salchow, as well as side-by-side double Axels (they were the only team to pull this off cleanly).

Fellow Canadians Rachel Kirkland and Eric Radford moved up from third after the short program to claim the silver after posting the second-best free skate. They received level 4's on their Group 3 lift as well as their Axel lasso lift.

Andrea Best and Trevor Young held on to capture the bronze. They have improved the difficulty of their lifts since last year's U.S. Championships, where they were novice silver medalists. The best part of their program was their spiral sequence, which was graded a level 4.

Novice Men's Free Skate
Armin Mahbanoozadeh improved upon last year's silver medal-winning performance at this event by capturing the gold Saturday in Pittsburgh. His free skatescore was almost 13 points greater than that of runner-up, Alexander Johnson. Mahbanoozadeh opened up with a triple Lutz-double toe combination, then executed a triple flip and a triple Salchow. He ended the program with a spin combination with change of position and change of foot that received a level 4.

Johnson maintained his second-place standing after the short program to win the silver. He landed a triple flip for the first time in competition and showed off an excellent sit spin with a flying entry. His major errors were a two-hand touch-down and turn-out on his triple Lutz and turning out of his landing on his double flip-double toe combination.

Ross Miner exhibited good speed through his program, which helped secure him the bronze. He did, however, receive a 1.00 deduction for having lyrics in his “Casablanca” music. His program featured a clean triple Salchow and a spin combination with change of position and change of foot that was given a level 4 mark.

Novice Pairs Free Skate
Though they finished second in the free skate, the team of Tracy Tanovich and Michael Chau built up enough of a lead in the short program to hang on to the gold. They received the highest overall program component scores, with transitions making them stand out above the rest of the teams.

Canadians Monica Pisotta and Michael Stewart leaped from fourth to second following their stellar free skate, which was scored the best of the competition. Their throw triple Salchow had a two-foot landing, but they were the only novice team to attempt that element. They received a level 4 on their Group 4 lift, a back press take-off to an inverted star. Their combo spin with a change of foot and a flying entry was out of unison, however.

Steza Foo and David Struthers of Canada earned the bronze with a very clean free skate. Their Group 3 lift (with a pendulum take-off to a one-hand star) and their concluding pairs combo spin received levels 4 and 3, respectively.