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Rachmaninoff suits Evora, Ladwig to a tee

Tanovich, Chau recover from scary fall to take second

Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig, who finished fourth at the 2009 AT&T U.S. Championships, won the senior pairs free skate at Liberty.
Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig, who finished fourth at the 2009 AT&T U.S. Championships, won the senior pairs free skate at Liberty. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(07/18/2009) - Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig showed all the best elements of classic pair skating in their new free skate to Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 -- speed, unison and daring yet smoothly executed lifts.

The Florida-based team, pewter medalists at the 2009 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships, performed their pair elements with assurance, opening with a solid triple twist and hitting a strong throw triple Lutz. Six of their elements, including three lifts completed in the second half of the program, earned Level 4s.

"Amanda and Mark are pretty much the king and queen of the 4s," said their coach, Jim Peterson.

Then there are the side-by-side jumps, triple toes and double Axels. Evora fell on the first, and both skaters struggled with the second. Still, they earned a strong early-season score of 103.59 points and won the event by more than 20 points.

"I remember years ago [2006 world junior champions] Julia Vlassov and Drew Meekins skated to this music, and I loved it," Evora said. "I kept it in my head and always wanted to skate to it."

"I really like the layout of the program. When it was choreographed, the elements all fell into place very easily," Ladwig added. "We figured it out right away. We incorporated some moves [from past seasons] that we felt really fit the music, sort of a best of the best."

The team has taken power-stroking classes from five-time U.S. ice dance champion Judy Blumberg, who will visit their rink in Ellenton, Fla., later this month.

"They're focusing on deep knees and speed, speed, speed," Peterson said. "Also, the catch on the [triple] twist, which is improving. It's just the jumps. Much as I absolutely hate excuses, Amanda twisted her ankle slightly today. We wrapped it, but it just wasn't comfortable for her."

Ladwig has big off-ice news. He and his wife, Janet, are expecting a baby boy on September 16.

"I'm throwing them a shower next week. It's my gift to them," Evora said.

A packed audience held its collective breath after a scary fall from Evora and Ladwig's rink mates, U.S. junior champions Tracy Tanovich and Michael Chau.

Performing to selections from Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty, the pair collapsed to the ice while entering their first lift.

"She was a bit behind me, and she just got too far out," Chau said. "My shoulder popped out of place, and I couldn't bring her down safely, which is the most important thing."

After a several-minute break, they resumed the program. Tanovich fell once more, on the landing of a throw triple loop, but they executed three lifts (dropped to Level 1) and fine side-by-side and pair combination spins. They placed second with 81.74 points.

"Tracy was really strong to go back out there and get the rest of the program," Chau said.

"I was happy to keep going," Tanovich added. "I was a little shocked at first."

Tanovich was not injured, but Chau strained a ligament in his shoulder.

"It wasn't dislocated, but I'll have to get some physical therapy when I get home," the skater said. "We have to get ready for Indy [Challenge] in a few weeks."

Peterson said the fall was out of character for the pair.

"This is a lift they did last year," he said. "They do it all the time in practice. This was a freak thing."

Erika Choi Smith and Nathan Bartholomay were third with 66.34 points. Noémie Arseneault and Simon-Pierre Côté of Canada placed fourth with 64.00 points.