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Czisny, Wong, Roman become collegiate champs

All three skaters retain short-program leads to win gold

The senior ladies silver medalists stand on the podium: silver medalist Amy Nunn, gold medalist Alissa Czisny and bronze medalist Abigail Legg.
The senior ladies silver medalists stand on the podium: silver medalist Amy Nunn, gold medalist Alissa Czisny and bronze medalist Abigail Legg. (Kelly Hodge)

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By Kelly Hodge, special to icenetwork.com
(08/10/2008) - After the third day of competition at the 2008 U.S. Collegiate Figure Skating Championships in Arvada, Colo., the three new U.S. collegiate champions were crowned. While there was quite a bit of movement in the placements overall, all three leaders after the short program held on to their spots and won by a comfortable margin.

In the senior ladies competition, Alissa Czisny of Bowling Green State University sailed to an easy victory, earning 95.29 points for her free skate and 151.90 overall. She opened her program with a strong triple Lutz-double toe combination. She did go on to struggle with several jumps, though, falling on her triple flip and triple loop in addition to having several downgraded to doubles. However, her spiral step sequence and spins were outstanding. In addition to earning the maximum Level 4 for each, she collected more points with a string of positive Grades of Execution. Czisny, the 2007 U.S. bronze medalist who was also the 2004 U.S. collegiate champion, will graduate from Bowling Green next spring.

Amy Nunn, of the Metropolitan State College of Denver, skated a wonderful program to a modern version of "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini." Nunn, who was third after the short program, earned 78.17 points for her free skate and 122.52 overall to capture the silver medal.

"This competition was really fun," she said. "It was so nice to compete with people your own age, and I loved how everyone cheered for you."

Nunn started her high-energy program with a double Axel-tap toe-double Axel sequence and went on to successfully land every one of the six remaining jump elements in her program, including another double Axel and a triple toe loop.

Capturing the bronze medal was Abigail Legg, who was in second after the short program. Legg skated a strong program but missed her triple loop and triple Salchow. She finished with 118.71 overall, enough for a solid podium finish.

Lindsey Roman was leading by nearly ten points going into the short program. Her free skate was less than perfect, missing her opening double Axel and later singling a double flip and doubling an intended triple toe loop. She excelled in other areas, however, earning a Level 4 for both her flying spin and combination spin. Roman earned 56.63 for her free skate, only the second best score of the evening, but her substantial lead after the short program allowed her to easily take the gold medal and become the U.S. junior collegiate ladies champion.

Lexi Ibanez, who will begin her freshman year at UCLA this year, had a great night. Entering the free skate in third place, she pulled up to win that portion of the event and take home the silver medal with 88.90 points to Roman's 98.71.

"This was a good experience for me," said Ibanez. "I felt great after landing my first jump. It was a really nice way to start the program. I was really worried about the altitude too. The free skate was hard, but I'm really happy with how I did."

Erica Ransford, of Monroe County Community College, took home the bronze. Ransford was second in the short program but dropped to fifth in the free skate. Her overall score of 84.89 was good enough to keep her in third.

The senior men finished out the evening and didn't disappoint. Jason Wong, from Emmanual College, proved that his lead in the short program -- and his solid triple Axel -- was no fluke. Wong had a rough start, falling on his triple Axel. He quickly pulled it together, though, and went on to hit nearly every other element, including another triple Axel in sequence and four additional clean triple jumps. Wong earned 112.40 points for his free skate and 168.68 total to capture his first U.S. collegiate title.

"I feel good about how I did," said Wong. "It felt good to come back from that triple Axel and pull it together. The hardest part for me was being in first place after the short program. I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep doing well."

Wong was also inspired by the Summer Olympics that are going on in Beijing right now. "I just love the Olympics. I was watching last night, and it got me really excited, and I put a little added pressure on myself to do my best."

Jonathan Cassar, who was in third after the short program, put out a very strong effort to make a comeback and take the silver medal. Cassar earned 107.21 for his free skate and 159.74 overall. He missed the first triple Lutz and saw a triple Salchow downgraded, but the Oakland University student came back strong, hitting four more solid triple jumps and earning a Level 4 for one of his spins.

Michael Solonoski, a student a Drexel University near Philadelphia, rounded out the podium by moving up from fourth place in the short program to take the bronze medal with an overall score of 145.31.

The senior men's and ladies champions will be offered the opportunity to represent U.S. Figure Skating at the 2009 Winter World University Games, to be held in February in Harbin, China, while the silver and bronze medalists will be able to compete at the Coupe de Nice this fall in Nice, France.