The junior ladies opened the 2009 U.S. Collegiate Championships on Saturday and did not disappoint.
Audrey Winter, of the Grand Rapids Community College held onto the gold medal, but it was her performance in the short program that kept her on top. Winter earned 60.39 points in the free skate, combined with her short program score of 100.08, she easily walked away with the top honors.
Skating in a teal blue dress to music from the Broadway show Giselle
, Winter executed a strong program. She completed all of her intended jumps, with the exception of a double Axel, which she singled.
"My program felt pretty good," said Winter. "I was more relaxed than usual, and I was the most happy with my layback spin."
Winter went on to explain that in the past several practices she has cut her hands attempting the third position -- a Biellmann. That didn't happen today, and in fact she earned a Level 4 from the technical panel.
While Winter will go home with the gold, it was Alicia Warren who stole the show. Warren, a sophomore from North Lake College near Dallas, entered the free skate with nothing to lose. Mistakes in the short program held her in fourth place, but three solid double Axels, and a high energy program to music from The Pink Panther
helped her capture first place in the free skate with 63.20 points.
"I thought I did really well. I did everything I could do," said Warren. "After the third double Axel, I knew I had gotten it done."
The win was enough to overtake several skaters and capture the silver medal with 95.22 points. But, it was her experience at this event that was as good as gold.
"I have had so much fun here," Warren commented. "It is so much different than other competitions. It doesn't matter which school or which club you're from, everyone helps you through and cheers for each other."
Leah Barsanti, a freshman at Washington University, dropped from second place in the short program to take home the bronze medal. She earned 57.32 for her free skate and 88.51 overall.
Irene Pullum, from Dana College, finished fifth in the free skate and fourth overall.
Prior to the U.S. Collegiate Championships, Jason Wong, a 2009 graduate of Emmanuel College, had only done seven run-throughs of his free skate program this season. The eighth one was his best.
Wong easily held onto his lead, capturing his second consecutive U.S. Collegiate title with 111.23 for his free skate and 166.25 overall. He opened his program with a huge triple Axel, and sailed through three consecutive triple jumps -- a Lutz, Salchow, and loop.
Although he hasn't had much time to train this season, his program to The Mission
soundtrack is comfortable -- as he has used it for the prior two seasons.
"Yes, I'm definitely happy with what I've done," said Wong of his free skate. "I've had that program for three years, and the music just suits me. I really like it. I've always liked it and connected with it. No matter how many times I hear it, I never get sick of it.
Wong plans to compete for at least one more season, and will start with the New England Regionals championships this fall.
Michael Solonoski of Drexel University skated one of the strongest programs of his career, pulling up from third place to earn 100.60 in the free skate and take home the silver medal with 141.58 overall.
Solonoski, decked out in a powerful royal blue costume, opened with a strong double Axel and followed it up with a triple Lutz and triple loop-double toe combination. He went on to land three more solid triple jumps and two double Axels.
Solonoski's second place finish will allow him the opportunity, like Wong, to compete at the Coupe de Nice international competition this fall.
Osadolo Irowa, a second year student at the College of DuPage, made several mistakes. He fell on a triple Axel and doubling an intended triple Salchow. His score of 86.95 points for the free skate and a total of 131.92 overall was not enough to hold onto the silver medal; he settled for the bronze.
In the senior ladies event, it came down to a battle for the gold between short program leader Tatyana Khazova and Chelsea Morrow, who was a fraction of a point -- .47 to be exact, behind in second place. Ultimately, it was Morrow, the freshman at Grand Rapids Community College who pulled it off to take home her first U.S. Collegiate title. Morrow earned 79.84 points for her free skate and 126.24 overall.
Morrow didn't waste any time opening her free skate with her most difficult element -- a triple toe-double toe-double loop. She went on to easily execute the majority of her jumps, only doubling an intended triple Salchow.
"I feel really good about my program," said Morrow, "The first combination jump was my hardest and I was a little nervous about it, but it went well. I try not to think about what I've already done, so I didn't completely relax until the program ended."
Morrow chose to attend community college this year so that she could continue to train with her coach April Treado. She will participate in her first international competition this year.
"I am super excited to go to an international. This will be my first one," said Morrow of the opportunity she earned to attend the Coupe de Nice by winning this championship.
While Khazova couldn't hold onto her lead after the short program, she was able to hold on to the silver medal. Second-place allows Khazova to join Morrow in France this fall at the Coup de Nice.
Khazova planned a very ambitious free skate, but several mistakes on jumps including a fall on her opening triple loop and singling her double Axel, held her back. Her program to music from the motion picture soundtrack Envy of Gods was highlighted by a spectacular triple Lutz.
Khazova had to overcome quite a bit to compete here, namely three-and-a-half weeks off the ice, while she traveled to her mother (and coach) Natalia's native Russia to have surgery to improve her breathing.
"My program was okay," said the Colorado College freshman. "I have some stuff to work on, but the hardest part was just getting through it, as I haven't really had the time to train. I'm really excited to start college this fall, though. I have a perfect schedule which will allow me to continue skating as much as I need to."
Khazova finished third in the free skate with 68.07 points, but combined with her short program score, her total of 114.86 kept her in second.
A very excited Lynzee Broussard from Aquinas College, in Grand Rapids, Mich., moved up from fourth place in the short program to capture the bronze medal with a spirited program to music from West Side Story
Broussard skated one of the first clean programs of the evening, floating from clean jump to clean jump -- the hardest being a double Axel.
"I felt really good, really relaxed," she said of her free skate. "I usually get a little nervous before my last two jumps, but I didn't tonight, I just really went for it and didn't slow down."
Broussard is also coached by April Treado, who had three medalists in this competition.