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Eaton and Aldridge are lords of junior ice dance

Bonacorsi, Mager win second consecutive silver; WISA youngsters finish third

Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton dazzled the judges with jigs and reels in San Jose.
Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton dazzled the judges with jigs and reels in San Jose. (Tom Briglia)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(01/25/2012) - At first, Daniel Eaton wasn't sure he and partner Alexandra Aldridge should perform their free dance to Lord of the Dance at the U.S. Championships.

After all, the Irish step dancing extravaganza's blazing footwork, percussive music and boundless energy was a bit daunting.

"At the beginning of the season, I was the person most against Lord of the Dance," the 19-year-old skater said. "I felt it would be a very challenging program for us to do. I'm glad I took that back.

"It was the best decision for Alexandra and I. We really connected with the music and got the crowd involved."

The Junior Grand Prix finalists did that and more, earning 87.68 points for a 142.10 total that outpaced the field by nearly 10 points and won the U.S. junior ice dance title.

The dynamic program opened with an excellent straight-line lift with Aldridge in an upside-down position, followed by a speedy three-part twizzle sequence. They closed with two exciting lifts and some sharp, staccato steps.

"This free dance was probably our favorite to compete so far," Aldridge, 18, said. "We had so much energy and the crowd was great, clapping along the whole time."

Aldridge got the idea for a Lord of the Dance program when the show visited Detroit. She looked up some of the performances on YouTube, and then proposed it to Eaton and the Detroit Skating Club ice dance coaching team, headed by Pasquale Camerlengo.

"They did a great job today," said Massimo Scali, one of their coaches. "They had energy and the elements were really clean. It's a great start, hopefully, for the junior worlds.

"I think the program reflects the way they skate; they are very powerful and very dynamic. We had the feeling it was the right music for them, and it's getting the results."

Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager, who train in Aston, Pa., under Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov, won silver for the second consecutive season with a dramatic and romantic free dance to Sandra and Tony Alessi's "Close to You" that also featured a fine three-part twizzle sequence, as well as attractive and unusual lifts. It earned 80.34 points for 133.73 overall.

"I'm happy with how we skated," Bonacorsi, 18, said. "We put our hearts into this free dance and really enjoyed skating here."

"My favorite thing about skating is skating with Lori," Mager, 21, said. "When we get to skate, especially in front of a crowd, it brings out the best in us as people. I thought we made a great connection on the ice today."

Youngsters Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter, just 12 and 15 years old, took bronze with an energetic program to a techno version of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" that earned 76.99 points. The students of Maryland's Wheaton Ice Skating Academy finished with 126.10.

"It was great to be able to get out and put on an act for the audience," said McNamara, a budding actress who dreams of marrying hockey player Alexander Ovechkin.

Another team from WISA, Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons, placed fourth in the free and third in the short dance to take fourth place overall.