Skaters Gain New Experience at Excel National Festival

The 2023 Excel National Final and Festival comprised of nearly 600 athletes wrapped up on Sunday after four action-packed days of competition and a festival where skaters could attend classes and meet Team USA athletes.

Above: Vanessa Zhang competes in the senior women's competition. (KrPhotogs Photography)


Senior Women

Highlighting the competition portion of the event was the senior women’s competition. Winning gold was Vanessa Zhang of IceWorks SC. Zhang skated to gold with a stunning performance to music from the soundtrack of the 2014 film Romeo and Juliet, cleanly executing a double Lutz-double toe-double loop combination in the second half of her program for a total score of 75.55.

Clara Mok of Seattle SC earned second place with a score of 70.07, skating beautifully to “Nessun Dorma” from the opera Turandot.

Lelia Slayton of Glacier Falls FSC clinched the bronze medal and earned a score of 68.66 while Genella Evans of Charter Oak took home the pewter medal with a score of 66.49.

Junior Women

Lauren Widrick of North Shore SC took home the top prize in the junior women’s competition. Opening with a Level 4 sit spin, Widrick entertained the audience and officials with her skate to “Bring on the Men” from the musical Jekyll and Hyde, receiving a score of 71.74 to win the event.

Following behind in second place was Cali Roloson of Dutchess FSC, who skated to a medley of music from the movie Top Gun: Maverick. She earned a score of 67.93.

RileighRose McMahon of Mountain Edge SC of Colorado finished just behind Roloson with 67.14 points to earn third place.

Sara Tusken of the host club, Austin FSC, received with 65.71 points and the pewter medal.

Novice Women

Charlotte Moo of the Los Angeles SC gave a strong performance to earn gold in the novice division by more than seven points. Her Middle Eastern-inspired program set to music from the video game Genshin Impact was awarded all positive grades of execution for a total score of 65.30.

Standing next to Moo on the podium in second place was Michaela Reu of North Jersey FSC. Reu gave an emotional performance to “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables, securing 57.98 points.

In third was Keira Lash of Rye FSC with a score of 56.62.

Ashlyn Brown of Sun Valley SC secured the final spot on the podium, tallying a total of 56.05.

Junior Men

Keita Horiko of Columbus FSC received the gold medal and positive grades of execution on every element resulting in a total score of 57.90. 

Novice Men

Stan Ganchevskiy stood on top of the podium after his skate to "The Scientist" by the Brooklyn Duo. He cleanly landed a double Lutz-single Axel-double toe loop worth 4.57 points to achieve a total score of 57.23. 

Henry Dingman of McCall FSC took home the silver medal tallying a score of 47.99. His program opened with a double Salchow-single Axel-single Axel combination that contributed 3.63 points to his total score. 

Brian Crimy of Frederick FSC finished third on the podium and received a score of 38.06


Along with the medals awarded to the top four finishers in each division, special awards were presented to skaters who successfully demonstrated their technical and artistic skills to the officials.

Any skater who achieved at least a +3 grade of execution score for a single program element was awarded an achievement pin.

In addition, presentation awards were given to one skater in each division who earned the highest program component score.

The most notable award is the Founders Trophy, which is presented to one man and one woman at any level who put out the best presentation of their music as voted on by the officials. This year, the men’s trophy was presented to Michael Joseph Gavin whose performance to “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson in the intermediate Excel Plus division impressed the judges. For the women, senior competitor Valeria Rodriguez gave an empowering performance to “Empire” by Shakira to win the award.


The fun didn’t stop with the competition. Skaters also had the opportunity to participate in a festival featuring jump and spin challenges, as well as on and off-ice classes taught by Team USA athletes Jason Brown, Starr Andrews, Jean-Luc Baker, Sean Rabbit and Polina Edmunds as well as two-time Olympian from Canada Kaitlyn Weaver. This offered skaters the opportunity to meet and be coached by some of their skating role models.

Participants were also encouraged to attend various informational sessions that could help them understand the technical side of the sport, such as sessions on how the IJS scoring system works.

At the end of the week, medalists from all divisions came together to perform an exhibition to Taylor Swift’s “…Ready For It,” which was choreographed by the Team USA athletes. The performance wrapped up a fantastic week full of opportunities for participants to learn and grow to become better skaters. But not only did they learn new skills, skaters were also able to go home with valuable competition experience, allowing them to practice managing pre-competition nerves and resilience when mistakes happen during a program.

Full Results

To view the full list of results, click here. Learn more about U.S. Figure Skating's Excel program here