Green siblings are golden in intermediate danceSchmainda and Scoralle, Hong, Roumila take short program leads
California's Tessa Hong easily won the intermediate ladies short program Thursday with her lyrical Swan Lake performance, which included a Level 4 spin, double Axel and double Lutz-double loop combination.
"I think it went really well," Hong said of her program that generated 40.71 points. "I was focusing on landing all my jumps solidly."
Frank Carroll, Hong's coach, is optimistic about the skater's future.
"Tessa skates like a ballerina," said the Olympic and world coach. "She has beautiful positions. She's young, but I have a lot of hope for her that she can keep improving. She's very musical, and she skated well today."
Hong won the juvenile ladies silver medal in 2012, but failed to qualify for sectionals in 2013.
New York's Alexia Paganini also delivered a standout performance in the short program. Wearing a red jumpsuit, she demonstrated strong jumping ability during her spunky program, which included a beautiful double Axel and strong triple Salchow-double toe combination. She scored 36.91 points.
Florida's Lindsey Rosenberg finished third in the 12-skater field with a score of 36.47.
Despite having the flu, Liam Roumila captured the short program with a gutsy performance that featured a double Axel and triple toe loop. He generated a score of 39.91 points.
"It's definitely harder," Roumila said. "You get tired more easily, so at the end of the footwork my body was so tired, and I had to push through that."
Coached by Elaine Zayak and Steven Rice, the New Jersey skater also works with a sports psychologist.
"One of the things we worked on was coming up with a character, because this music doesn't have a set character," Roumila said of his coaching team's strategy. "So, what I was trying to do was play the role of that character the best I could so that I could get into the program more."
Dinh Train finished second with 38.52 points. The skater from California successfully completed a triple toe-double loop combination, double Axel and two Level 4 elements. Dinh is the 2013 juvenile pewter medalist.
California's Kellen Johnson finished third with 37.87 points, landing a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination and two Level 4 spins. Connecticut's Maxim Naumov finished fourth with 37.02 points.
Alexandria Schmainda and Matthew Scoralle delivered the best performance of their season Thursday afternoon, winning the short program with a score of 33.97 points. The event marked the first time a short program had been competed at the intermediate level at a U.S. championships.
In their third year as an intermediate team, the California-based duo entertained the audience with a clean performance to a medley of 1950s music.
"We've been improving quite a bit," Scoralle said. "My jumps had been a little shaky this week, so I'm glad I stuck the landing on the double loop."
Schmainda, 14, and Scoralle, 16, have been coached by Naomi Poor and Themi Leftheris for nearly two years.
"We've improved so much since we started working with them," said Schmainda of the team that trains at the Lakewood, Calif., rink. "It's a whole new competition for us. We feel strong and secure with all of our elements, which we never really did before."
Last year, the duo finished fourth at the U.S. championships in Omaha, Neb.
"They are probably our most-improved team," Poor said. "They've worked really hard and really efficiently, and that wasn't the case before. We are really proud of them."
The team received positive grades of execution on all of its elements, including a Level 4 for its lift.
Arizona's Megan Griffin and Andrew Civiello finished second with 31.48 points. They skated to "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."
"I was really pleased with their overall performance," coach Doug Ladret said. "They really went after that second mark. There were a lot of smiles, a lot of pizzazz, good unison. They had a couple little bobbles, but those are easy to fix."
Griffin, 11, and Civiello, 17, began their partnership 18 months ago. They finished sixth at the juvenile level in 2013.
Finishing third was the Massachusetts team of Sydney Cooke and Nathaniel Dennier with 30.74 points. The Illinois team of Sophia Pearson and Keenan Prochnow sits fourth with 30.38 points.
Maryland siblings Caroline and Gordon Green stole the show with a sassy samba performance that amassed 56.82 points.
"We skated so well today, we're all really pleased," Gordon said. "I'm really proud of what we accomplished."
"I think the key to this whole thing is that we really came together this year," Caroline added.
The 2013 U.S. juvenile champions made the jump to the intermediate ranks, crediting their back-to-back titles to good, old-fashioned discipline.
"You have to practice a lot to get here," Gordon said.
"At every single competition, we want to have a clean skate," Caroline added. "That's the goal. We're just going to keep working hard and doing our best."
The duo earned 105.76 for the week, besting the field by 7.69 points.
Winning the silver were Pennsylvania's Katherine Grosul and Cameron Colucci, who earned the juvenile pewter medal last year.
"I think the biggest difference for us this year was adding a new coach, Ruslan Goncharov, to our team," Colucci said. "He won the bronze medal in ice dance at the 2006 Olympics, and he's been a big help."
"We have such a great team of coaches, all of them," Grosul added. "They really help our skating skills. We feel great about everything we were able to do here."
Grosul and Colucci earned 49.86 points for their free dance, en route to 98.07 points for the week.
Taking the bronze were Maryland's Emma Gunter and Caleb Wein with 97.39 points, followed by Michigan-based Eleanor Babaev and Scott Wenner, who claimed pewter with 81.84.