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Spirited skate gives Li, Eastler ice dancing lead

Chiangs grab second; Gravenstein excels on ice while pregnant

Katharina Gravenstein competed while pregnant, and Katie Van Ark (above) was with infant.
Katharina Gravenstein competed while pregnant, and Katie Van Ark (above) was with infant. (Barbara Reichert)

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By Barbara Reichert, special to icenetwork.com
(04/14/2012) - Skating a spirited Paso Doble, Anna Li and William Eastler of the Seattle Skating Club took the lead Friday night in championship dance by winning both pattern dances at the 2012 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships in Bensenville, Ill.

Li and Eastler finished with 34.17 points, placing first in both the Paso Doble and Starlight Waltz. Close behind are April and Gilbert Chiang of the Skating Club of Oregon; they earned 33.58 total points. In third are Molly Johnson and Kianoosh Samii of the St. Moritz Ice Skating Club in San Mateo, Calif., with 25.66 points.

Debra and David Gaultier of the Detroit Skating Club sit in fourth place with 24.29 points, followed by Katharina Gravenstein and Anthony David of the Georgia Figure Skating Club in Stone Mountain, Ga., with 22.63 points.

Li and Williams opened the Paso Doble with some smart footwork, with Li's red and black dress accenting their every move. In the Starlight Waltz, the couple seemed to glide effortlessly, skating close to the boards on both ends.

"The rink is smaller than what it is at home," Li said. "All the time I was thinking, 'There's the boards, there's the boards!' "

The couple, who have been skating together "five or six years," agreed it made their skating a bit more challenging.

"I think people think going from a smaller to a larger rink is harder because they have so much ice to cover, but actually the reverse is so much harder because we're used to having lots of room and think you're never going to hit the boards," Li said.

While the skating took center stage, it was Gravenstein who stole the show, simply by taking the ice. Gravenstein is seven months pregnant, though her high-wasted dresses hid her "bump" quite well.

After completing the waltz, the crowd sprung to its feet and tossed dozens of diapers onto the ice. While the good-natured Gravenstein smiled at the gesture, she did appear to have a little trouble collecting the unusual tossies, so Johnson and Samii jumped onto the ice to help.

"The hardest part [about being pregnant] is lacing up," she said, holding the diapers. "The skating is actually fine. I was a little out of breath. It's good exercise, and I think it's made the pregnancy a lot easier, staying active."