New champions crowned at 2021 U.S. Adult Championships

The 2021 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships concluded Saturday. 

The 2021 U.S. Adult Championships was one for the books. The historic event reunited adult skaters nationwide for the first time since 2019, and the quality of skating translated across all levels of competition. From a record-breaking free skate in the championship masters junior-senior men to two former Team USA ice dancers competing in the championship pairs event, the week was filled with exciting and unforgettable memories.

Championship Adult Gold Men

After a season unlike any other, frontline worker Antonio Conte (Los Angeles FSC) won his second national title with a passionate performance to the Rocketman soundtrack. Conte earned a score of 34.81 and achieved the highest program components mark of the championship adult gold men event, thanks to his striking speed and joyous smile.

"I learned to skate as an adult," Conte shared. "My first Adult Championships was in 1998, where I was a bronze I man. Now I'm a gold IV man. I've gone through the whole life cycle!"

Silver medalist Roland Jarquio (SC of New York) skated to The Mask of Zorro and earned 33.25 points. 

"Two years ago, my dad passed away the day before the Adult Championships began," Jarquio recalled. "I had to scratch at the last minute. It's amazing that I can be here today."

Jarquio, who works in marketing and banking, earned the highest technical mark of the event.

"For me that was a good skate. It started strong and ended strong. Everything in the middle was a blur."

Earning the bronze medal was Liam Cowper (Uncle Sam SC), who skated to music from The DaVinci Code. He scored 23.35 points and received full credit for his Axel. 

"I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do it. I had a plan to change it to a Salchow, but I went for it!" Cowper said. 

Cowper, a professional cabinet maker, was joined by a very special companion. 

"I couldn't have done it without my coach: my wife, Linda!"

Pewter medalist Richard Breitweiser scored 27.49 points for his performance to the Chicago soundtrack. 

"I wanted to do something that the audience would like," Breitweiser shared. "Four years ago, I had a stroke and I completely lost sight in my left eye. I'm extremely proud of myself!"

Championship Adult Silver Ladies

Gianina Renault (Carolinas FSC) took the gold medal in the largest event of the U.S. Adult Championships, which had 34 competitors. In her second appearance at the U.S. Adult Championships, the 34-year-old scored 28.97 points, beating her 2019 score by four points. Her sassy free skate to "Olvidate de Mi" by Yasmin Levy featured two Axel attempts, one in a three-jump combination. 

"I am super happy and excited," Renault, who lives in Costa Rica and trains there and in Florida, said. "I worked very hard and I'm just happy to be back." 

Individual member Anya Saretzky took silver in her championship-level debut at the U.S. Adult Championships. The Philadelphia-based skater choreographed her own program, set to music by Raul Ferrando, which scored 26.03 points. 

"I'm ecstatic and elated," the 33-year-old said. "There were a lot of really strong competitors ... and it's a great competitive environment." 

Amy Earl (Salt Lake Figure Skating) took bronze with 25.60 points. Her program to instrumental music by Jennifer Thomas featured two Axels, one in a three-jump combination. 

"I didn't have the best skate on Wednesday in my other event, so I think that as a positive thing," the 27-year-old said. "It cleared my mind and helped me focus on what I needed to do.

"I'm really grateful we can be here." 

Jennifer Hand (Georgia FSC) finished fourth with 25.28 points. 

Championship Adult Gold Ladies

In a group of inspiring and emotional performances, Grace Stuever (Pittsburgh FSC) took the championship adult gold ladies title. Skating to "There You'll Be" by Faith Hill from the Pearl Harbor soundtrack, the 31-year-old earned Level 3 on all her spins to score 46.90, a record-breaking score for the event and a personal best for Stuever. 

"I'm very happy because I feel like it's been a very long time coming," Stuever, who placed third at the 2019 Adult Championships, said. "It was not a perfect program today, but I'm happy with it." 

Crossroads FSC member Cassandra McNulty took the silver medal with 43.90 points. In her techno "Carmen" program, the 30-year-old opened with a Level 3 spin and channeled her ice dance background to add difficult entries to most of her jumps. 

"It was an interesting year because we were off the ice so long, so it was really nice to be able to come out and skate how I know I can skate in practice," she said. "I had a really great time and happy to do it here." 

In her Adult Championships debut, Molly Linder (SC of San Francisco) clinched the bronze medal with 41.70 points. In her program set to "Libertango" by Bond, the 25-year-old opened with a strong Axel-single loop combination and ended her powerful skate with a Level 3 combination spin.

"I'm really happy with how today went," she said. "I'm just soaking it in." 

Kimberlee Hyp (Vegas Golden Knights Center of Excellence) earned the pewter medal with 36.66 points.

Championship Masters Intermediate-Novice Ladies

Adrian College's Ally Morin-Viall captured the championship masters intermediate-novice ladies title Saturday morning with a nearly clean program to selections from the Phantom of the Opera. Morin-Viall landed four double jumps, two in combination, and received Level 3 on two of her spins. She finished with a score of 47.06 to best the field of 25 skaters. 

"It felt really good, really exciting," she said. "It's a whole new experience for me being my first adult competition. It was a lot of fun being in this environment and soaking in everything it had to offer."

Morin-Viall won the U.S. Collegiate Championships novice title in 2019.

Sarah Arnold (Kansas City FSC) secured the silver medal with her program to Celine Dion's song "To Love You More." Arnold, a nurse in Kansas City, posted a score of 45.13. The event marked the fourth time for her competing at the U.S. Adult Championships.

"I was champion at [Midwestern] sectionals last year and then nationals got canceled, which was devastating," Arnold said. "Today was just incredible for it to come to fruition."

Defending champion Olivia Wyrick (Los Angeles FSC) earned the bronze medal with a score of 44.86, more than three points better than her winning score in 2019. 

She skated to a remix of Michael Buble's song "Feeling Good" by Avicii.

"Definitely disappointed. I didn't skate clean," Wyrick said. "I fell on my double toe and popped my double Salchow, but I'm happy that I placed." 

Felicia Rodgers (Kent Valley FSC) claimed the pewter medal with a score of 44.55.

Championship Masters Pairs

Erin Krentz and Chris Obzansky (FSC of Park City) took the masters pairs title with 72.27 points. In their program to "Desert Rose" by Sting, the tandem executed a Level 4 lift and ended their free skate with a Level 3 combination spin. 

"We worked really hard and prepared really hard," Obzansky, who is a former Team USA ice dancer, said. "We went on autopilot and just let it happen. It was nice to see our hard work come together in that moment." 

Carol Lynn Cooper (Detroit SC) and Keiffer Hubbell (St. Clair Shores FSC) took silver with 69.28 points. Keiffer also traded his ice dance blades for freestyle blades and was a former Team USA ice dancer with his sister and 2018 Olympian, Madison Hubbell. 

The duo's program to music from The Greatest Showman featured an impressive Level 4 lift and two Level 3 lifts. They also earned a Level 4 on their death spiral.

"We are totally psyched about our skate," Cooper said. 

"It was representative of what we've been working on and what we were hoping to share with the judges and crowd," Hubbell added. 

2019 Adult Champions Judy Mata and Vladimir Levchenkov (Detroit SC) scored 58.95 to take the bronze medal. Their "Libertango" program featured two Level 4 lifts. 

"It wasn't the best, but I think we did decently," Levchenkov said. "In our age, just stepping on the ice is already a victory." 

Kimberly Sailer (Port City SC) and David Garber (Pittsburgh FSC) earned pewter with 47.33 points.

Championship Adult Silver Men

Adam Hudson (Birmingham FSC) defended his adult championship silver men's title with a score of 24.89.

"I'm a little disappointed," Hudson said. "I stepped out of my first jump combination. It could have been better."

Hudson skated to "Come What May" from the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge! He traveled to Rochester, Michigan, without his coach, who was helping with a Theatre On Ice event at his home rink.

Christopher Shipley (North Shore SC) earned the silver medal with 22.76 points. The 2017 champion in this event, Shipley performed to music from the soundtrack to Samson and Delilah.

"Today went really well, everything felt good.," said Shipley, who lives, works and trains in the Boston area.

Tyler Thames (San Antonio FSC) claimed the bronze medal at his first U.S. Adult Championships. 

Thames skated to Spanish and Portuguese music, with the first half of the program mourning the loss of love and the second half more joyful and energized. He finished with a score of 22.13. He works at the only ice rink in San Antonio and at Starbucks to pay for his skating. 

Robert Burtze (Central Carolina SC) took home the pewter medal with 21.02 points.

Championship Adult Dance

Barbora Bowser and Ruslan Goncharov (ION FSC) not only made their Adult Championships debut but also their competitive debut as a team. As a singles skater, Bowser was a novice and junior champion in the Czech Republic, but only learned ice dance last year. Meanwhile, Goncharov represented Ukraine to become the 2006 Olympic bronze medalist for ice dance. 

"I'm very new to ice dance," said Bowser, a singles coach. "I always loved how ice dancing looked, and then I met Ruslan!"

The team earned a total score of 83.92 and had the highest program components score of the event. In their "Adagio" free dance (with vocals by Bowser), the duo performed Level 4 synchronized twizzles and a Level 3 rotational lift in a challenging "haircutter" position.

"We were very ready for this competition, even though we only practiced for a few months," shared Goncharov, who coaches ice dance.

Performing to music by Radiohead, Pamela Federbusch (North Jersey FSC) and Oleksandr Shakalov (individual member) earned their second consecutive silver medal. 

"We're really pleased with how we skated considering how little we trained," Federbusch said. "I'm moving from New Jersey to Florida and this is our last season. We wanted to go out with a bang!"

Federbusch and Shakalov had a total score of 81.39 and earned the highest technical mark. 

Earning the bronze medal were Jennifer Freedman (Hickory Hill FSC) and Oleg Voyko (individual member), who skated to "Tell Her You Belong to Me" by Beth Hart. They scored 80.74 points. 

The team placed first during the initial round of pattern dances (blues and silver samba). 

"It was great to have such a good group of competitors," Freedman shared. "Both dances were really different with a slower blues and a fast Latin rhythm."

Amy Kilheffer (Atlanta FSC) and Oleksii Shumskyi (Georgia FSC) placed 4th with a score of 72.84.

Championship Masters Junior-Senior Men

Michael Solonoski (IceWorks SC) shattered the U.S. Adult Championships scoring record, landing five triple jumps en route to a score of 91.62 and the gold medal in the championship masters junior-senior men's division. 

"I tried to set the bar pretty high for myself," said Solonoski, who last competed in 2010. "I just wanted to give myself a good challenge and see what I was capable of pulling off."

Solonoski's only miscue came on fall while trying a triple Lutz early in his program to "Send in the Clowns," which he covered with his own voice.

"Unfortunately, I missed the Lutz but I was really happy that I came back strong and was able to focus and not make any more mistakes," he said.  

The previous record score was 74.86 points.

Five-time and reigning event champion Daniel Palmeri (Onyx-Suburban Skating Academy) secured the silver medal with 64.34 points. Palmeri helped lead the local organizing committee's efforts. He performed to the song titled "Husavik" from the Netflix movie Eurovision.

"I was so excited to get to skate at home after all this time," Palmeri said. "This is my favorite program that I've had the opportunity to do. It felt like the perfect song for my hometown."

James Basler (SC of New York) earned the bronze medal at his first U.S. Adult Championships.  

"I was determined to fight for everything," Basler said. "I wanted to do as much as I could and what I trained and what I practiced. I'm grateful and thankful I was able to do the best that I could."

Basler, who practices at IceTime Sports Complex in Newburgh, New York, finished with a score of 57.86.

Davin Grindstaff (Burnsville-MN Valley FSC) earned the pewter medal with a score of 35.02.

Championship Masters Intermediate-Novice Men

Eric Bilardi (Los Angeles FSC) put out an artistic and inspiring free skate in the championship masters intermediate-novice men event to defend his title and score a personal best 47.72 points.  His program to "Smile Wide" by Ezio Bosso not only featured lyrical choreography by Misha Ge but included five double jumps, three in combination or sequence. 

"It's feels amazing," Bilardi said. "I have trained harder than I ever trained since the pandemic. There were no nerves for the first time, and I think it was all about my training." 

Demis Maryannakis (SC of New York) earned the silver medal in his first Adult Championships appearance since 2018. His 45.69-point program to West Side Story featured four double jumps, three in combination or sequence. 

"It's been a lot of hard work, and today was amazing," Maryannakis said. "I'll never forget this day." 

Michael Rubke (Los Angeles FSC) earned the bronze medal with 43.15 points. This was his 10th time competing at the Adult Championships. His program to "Fix You" by Coldplay featured a Level 3 spin. 

"This to me was a test, and I'm happy with it," Rubke said. "We do this because we love it." 

Christopher Williams (FSC of Minneapolis) took the pewter medal with 39.95 points.

Championship Masters Junior-Senior Ladies

A change of music and some late modifications to her program propelled Stephanie Roth (Jersey Coast FSC) to the title in the championship masters junior-senior ladies division. 

Roth, who earned the bronze medal at the 2019 event with a score of 53.27, skated first in the field of 25 ladies and posted a personal-best score of 74.47.

Roth competed in a virtual competition leading up to the U.S. Adult Championships and took the feedback she received and fine-tuned her program, which was set to music from the Avengers soundtrack.

"I made a ton of changes and from that program to here, it [her score] went up 18 points so I got those scores on June 1st so the training I did over June was just getting comfortable with transitions, attacking the jumps. I feel this year my spins are better than ever," she said.

Ashlee Pantano (Ice House Skating Academy) captured the silver medal with a score of 69.63 points. This was her first U.S. Adult Championships.

"I just wanted to get off the ice and feel proud and happy," said Pantano, who performed to the song "Imagine." "I knew it was the last time I would perform that program before we start a new one. I just wanted to enjoy every moment and I did."  

After the event, Pantano and fellow club members drove down to Birmingham, Alabama, for a National Theatre On Ice event. 

Kelsey Cease (St. Moritz ISC) claimed the bronze medal, posting a score of 65.66 points in her eighth appearance at the U.S. Adult Championships.

Cease, who lives and coaches ice dance in Minnetonka, Minnesota, delivered a crowd-pleasing performance to music from the soundtrack to La La Land. Cease's performance ignited the audience, which began to clap as her program winded down.

"This is a huge career highlight because I was happy the whole program," she said. "Normally I feel like I'm being scared and running away from something and this time I felt like I was trying to chase what I wanted. And when the crowd got into, that's never happened before." 

Three-time event champion Regan Alsup (Detroit SC) secured the pewter medal with a score of 62.00 points.

Click here for full results from the 2021 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships.