Recovering Long impresses again in Liberty short

Belbin finds new calling; SCNY's Schetelich, Ma go one-two in juniors

U.S. junior pewter medalist Barbie Long hopes to earn a Junior Grand Prix appointment.
U.S. junior pewter medalist Barbie Long hopes to earn a Junior Grand Prix appointment. (Eis Club Gardena)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(07/20/2012) - Barbie Long followed up her impressive performances at the Broadmoor Open last month with another strong short program at the 2012 Liberty Summer Competition, landing triple Lutz-triple toe and earning 52.11 points to outpace her junior group by 10 points.

"My opening element is the triple-triple, and I landed that, [followed by] triple flip and double Axel, and I landed both of those," Long said about her short to Pink Panther, which she competed on Wednesday. "I was very happy."

The 15-year-old from Springfield, Ill., who is coached by Susan Liss, is recovering from a leg injury and scratched from the junior ladies free skate.

"It's healed now, but I could only do minimal jumping, so I just decided to do the short here," she said.

Both of Long's programs, including a free skate to West Side Story, were choreographed by five-time U.S. ice dance champion and Olympic silver medalist Tanith Belbin.

"I work with her every month and I really enjoy that," Long said. "She understands everything I need and she's just amazing. She is so good at the beauty of skating and making everything look really easy, but still doing it really well. She knows all the rules; she keeps up on all of that. She puts lots of energy and effort into everything."

In an interview earlier this year, Belbin -- who last performed with partner Ben Agosto a year ago -- said she thinks she has found her new calling.

"I started getting into choreography over the course of the past year and a half, along with going to school, and once that started snowballing and I saw how much I enjoyed it, I really couldn't pull myself away," Belbin said. "The performing door will never close for me, but at this point, I feel my passion is in a new direction and I can really develop in a new way."

Belbin also works with 2012 U.S. junior bronze medalist Hannah Miller, as well as other young competitors.

"I've been working with junior skaters for the most part, finding my voice in terms of choreography," she said. "I'm learning a lot from great friends, including David Wilson and Jeff Buttle, who is kind of taking the same path. I'm learning how to express myself in new ways, and I'm just thankful people are coming to me. Beyond the choreography, it means a lot to me to be able to use my experience to help guide young skaters."

Long, who placed fourth in juniors at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and won junior gold at the 2012 Gardena Spring Trophy, hopes to be assigned a Junior Grand Prix (JGP), but many JGP, age-eligible, national senior competitors, as well as the three 2012 U.S. junior medalists, are also vying for the coveted ladies' spots.

"I'm hoping that maybe I'll get something," Long said. "If not, I'm planning on doing two more competitions this summer before regionals and just keep working hard."

Skating Club of New York dominates men's junior event

Skating Club of New York skaters gave a strong showing in the junior men's event, with James Schetelich and Jimmy Ma placing first and second, respectively, in both the short program and free skate events.

"It was really amazing," Schetelich, the 2012 U.S. novice silver medalist, said after his free skate, a seven-triple effort to music from The Mission choreographed by Kristine Bingham Nielsen.

"I just kind of took it jump after jump until it was done. I remember thinking, 'A couple more, a couple more.' I was excited the whole way through, but I kind of just took it one thing at a time."

The skater, a rising junior at Scotch Plains Fanwood High School who is coached by Debbie Davis at Monsey, N.Y.'s Sport-o-Rama, landed a solid triple Lutz-triple toe worth 10.10 points.

"This is my first year junior so I'm just going to try to take it one event and one program at a time," Schetelich, who turns 16 on July 30, said. "I haven't really had time to work too much on the triple Axel yet. I'm working on increasing the GOEs [Grades of Execution] on my jumps."

The other triumphant Skating Club of New York skater, Ma, landed four triples, including flip and Lutz, and earned 99.39 points to take second in the free with 99.39 points.

Making his junior debut, reigning British novice champion Graham Newberry claimed third place in both the short program and free skate. The 14-year-old son of 1988 British champion Christian Newberry, who tried triples for the first time in competition this week, landed four here, including flip, Lutz, toe and Salchow.

Graham's older brother, Jack -- the British junior bronze medalist -- placed fourth in the free with a four-triple program to How to Train Your Dragon. Jack will compete at the Junior Grand Prix in Lake Placid in early September.