Secundy is back on top at nationals

14-year-old wins novice ladies title, her second national crown

Marissa Secundy's free skate, loaded with triples, vaulted her to the novice ladies title.
Marissa Secundy's free skate, loaded with triples, vaulted her to the novice ladies title. (Paul Harvath)


Related Content Top Headlines
By Mickey Brown, special to
(01/21/2008) - Fourteen-year-old Marissa Secundy from Colorado Springs, Colo., was trying to get back to the top of the national podium. She won the 2006 U.S. juvenile title but got stuck in the qualifying pipeline last season, finishing 10th at the Midwestern Sectionals.

Second-place finishes this season at the Southwestern Regionals and Midwestern Sectionals set the stage for her performance at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Her first-place free skate Monday afternoon lifted her from second place after the short program to the top of the novice ladies podium, her second U.S. gold medal in three years.

Secundy was 1.6 points behind short-program leader Sophia Lamay, but her triple-laden free skate, set to "Ice on the Saint Laurence" by Jonathan Elias, "First Impressions" by Edgar Meyer and "The Call to Dance" by Leahy, put her over the top.

Secundy packed five triples into her program, while most of her challengers had only two or three. She landed four of those jumps -- the triple toe, triple Salchow, triple loop-double loop combination and triple loop-double toe-double loop combo -- falling only on her triple Lutz. She also stumbled on her double Axel.

"I was a little nervous going into it, with it being my first nationals. I'm glad I went for everything," said Secundy, who is trained by Tom Zakrajsek and Becky Calvin at the Broadmoor Skating Club. "I'm a little disappointed with my double Axel, because they're pretty easy for me, but what can I do?"

Secundy credits her coaches, as well as the intense training environment at the World Arena Ice Hall, for her development as a skater.

"I had two triples last year -- now I've got my toe and my Lutz, and they're pretty consistent," Secundy said. "I've improved my components and my spins a lot. Everything went up a level from last year."

Lamay, an energetic, striking 14-year-old from Houston, was the surprise silver medalist. Coming into the competition, Lamay had a pair of 11th-place finishes as an intermediate at the U.S. Junior Championships on her resume, but she has done a lot of growing up in the last 12 months. She landed a triple and seven doubles in her "Polovtsian Dances" free skate.

"I tried really hard and trained really hard, and it paid off so much," said Lamay, who represents the Texas Gulf Coast FSC. "I feel so good about myself."

However, it was the fall on her triple Salchow-double toe combination that was eating at her afterwards. That error cost her the title.

"That one jump is, just, 'Grrr,'" she said in frustration. "I've been working on it so hard, and it just annoys me. If you don't do one thing right or are just a measurement off, the whole thing is wrong."

Although she only placed fourth in the free skate, Lamay's program components score (36.45) was the highest in the segment. She pointed to the work her stroking coach, B.L. Wylie, has done with her as the reason her skating skills have improved so much.

Lamay displayed a confident, aggressive style through the competition, and that's not an accident.

"That's the way me and my choreographer designed my program," Lamay said. "She made it so if I made one mistake, I'd be able to move on really quickly."

Though her "Scheherazade" free skate lacked a single triple jump, Felicia Zhang (SC of New York) moved up from fourth in the short program to finish second in the free skate and claim the bronze medal. Zhang landed seven clean doubles and posted the second-best program components score (35.58) in the segment.

Her skating philosophy is simple.

"Stay within rules. Don't try to find loopholes or else [the judges] will deduct you, and deduct you hard.," Zhang said.

Agnes Zawadzki, the 2007 U.S. intermediate silver medalist, finished third in the free skate and fourth overall.