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Leaders Motley, Silecky seize gold at Collegiates

Seattle Pacific University's Chrissy Hughes jumps ahead in senior ladies short

University of California at Berekeley's Matek Silecky dominated the junior men's competition, finishing with 130.74 points.
University of California at Berekeley's Matek Silecky dominated the junior men's competition, finishing with 130.74 points. (Brenda Glidewell)

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By Brenda Glidewell, special to icenetwork.com
(08/18/2012) - Kicking off the second day of exciting competition in Cape Cod, Mass., was the junior ladies free skate event. This event contained many solid performances and nicely executed elements throughout the group. When the event concluded, the leaders from the short program finished in the top spots and celebrated their 2012 U.S. Collegiate Figure Skating Championships success.

Natalie Motley, first in the short program, skated a well-executed, power free skate. It was good enough for her to maintain her lead and capture the junior ladies title with a total score of 100.70 points.

Motley completed an under-rotated triple Salchow, huge double Axel, downgraded triple toe, two nicely executed double Lutz-double loop combinations and a double flip-double loop-double loop combination jump. She also recorded a Level 4 flying sit, Level 4 combination spin and Level 3 step sequence that was very intricate and well-choreographed, plus a Level 4 combination spin.

When reflecting on her performance, Motley, a sophomore at University of Mary Washington, was pleased with how it went, despite missing the triple toe. She said that she "came for fun" and was "very happy with the result," especially since this was her highest long program score of the season.

Attending Collegiates for the first time, Motley's main goal was to perform her best and enjoy her program. Motley accomplished this goal and skated her entire program with a huge smile upon her face.

2011 Collegiate Championship junior ladies silver medalist, Caroline Knoop of Dartmouth, was in third place following the short program. She skated a beautiful, flowing program to the music from Out of Africa to once again capture the silver medal, earning a total score of 91.45 points.

Knoop performed her new free skate with pride, saying that she had "always wanted to skate to this music" and "enjoyed the motivation it provided her."

Knoop is entering her sophomore year and looks forward to competing with her Dartmouth teammates in the Intercollegiate Team competitions. She enjoyed her time at the Collegiate Championships but admitted that missed her teammates a lot.

This week was "not about winning, but was about doing my best," Knoop said. "I can say I did that and am very proud!"

Alexis McDonell of Syracuse University took home the bronze. McDonell was in second place in the short program but placed fourth in the free skate. Her overall score of 86.76 points was good enough to keep her in third.

In the junior men's competition, Matej Silecky of the University of California at Berkeley retained his lead following the short program to capture the junior men's crown. Performing to the "Exogenesis Symphony Part 3" by Muse -- the same source music Jeremy Abbott used for his 2011-12 free skate -- he earned the title with ease, tallying a combined score of 130.74 (a staggering 41.08 points ahead of second place).

Silecky opened his program with a strong triple toe-double toe combination, and then executed an admirable triple Axel that resulted in a fall. Matej earned Level 3s on his flying spin and step sequence and a Level 2 on his ending combination spin. Silecky entered the competition with the goal of completing more elements in his program than that of his last competition. He achieved this goal and felt pleased with his ability to skate a complete program that included captivating choreography and solid spins.

Matej remarked that "he was excited to be the junior collegiate champion" and "looked forward to what the future holds for him." In addition to entering college in the fall, Matej is also involved in coaching and trial judging.

Christian Burner of the University of Illinois finished the event with a total score of 89.66 points. Burner said that he felt fortunate to "be out on the ice again healthy and competing, while enjoying the unique atmosphere Collegiates has to offer." He added that "it has been a long time since [I] was able to compete healthy and could enjoy what [I] was doing on the ice."

Burner completed a downgraded triple Salchow, solid double flip, double toe-double toe and double loop jump.

Rounding out the group of junior men and finishing in third place with a total score of 79.89 was physics student Jonathan Jerothe of the University of Delaware.

Jerothe said that he felt this "program went okay" and that he was "really enjoying his first Collegiate Championships!"

Friday evening

The event resumed Friday evening with the start of the senior ladies short program, where 31 skaters demonstrated a substantial amount of quality skating, nicely executed jumps and a plethora of lovely performances.

Leading the pack with a score of 43.45 is first-time Collegiate competitor Chrissy Hughes of Seattle Pacific University. Hughes is a recent graduate, with an exercise science degree, and is a past U.S. Figure Skating Championships competitor at the novice, junior and senior levels; she is also a former international singles competitor.

Hughes took command of the ice as she executed a huge double Axel and triple Salchow-double toe combination and double Lutz. She received Level 3 on her flying spin, combination spin and demonstrated intricate footwork. Her program not only contained well-executed elements but was also comprised of energetic choreography, powerful skating and expressive movements.

Having been a U.S. championships competitor and walking away from the sport in 2009 to pursue her collegiate studies, Hughes made the decision to return to competition and compete one last time, at Collegiates, doing so "on her own terms this time."

"It is not about winning, but is about skating this last time for me!" she said.

Amber Walczyk of Malone University landed in second place with a score of 40.75 points. The three-time Collegiate competitor skated to "Nothing Else Matters" by David Garrett. Walczyk is pursuing a psychology degree and used this knowledge to skate a perfect program that contained a huge triple loop-double toe, solid double flip and nice double Axel in addition to fast spins with unique positions.

Walczyk was very pleased with her performance and is looking forward to the free skate event Saturday, where she hopes to skate another exemplary program.

Walczyk said she "was excited to return to this year's competition," as she "really enjoys the fun and relaxed atmosphere that the Collegiate competition provides" and the friendships she forms.

Math and statistics major Kacie Kotnik of Northern Kentucky University sits in third place with a score of 40.30 points, following a strong short program in which she completed an awesome double Axel and nearly landed a solid triple toe-double toe combination and triple Salchow. Her program was nicely choreographed and flowed across the ice, entertaining the audience and judges alike.

Following the event, Kotnik commented on how she "is not usually a short program skater" and was "very pleased to skate so clean."

The senior ladies and senior men's free skate takes place Saturday.