'Gladiator' Manella ousts 'Zorro' Messing in Aston

Berrios posts impressive novice score; Brezina plays detective

Carly Berrios of Ashburn, Va., made waves by winning the novice ladies competition.
Carly Berrios of Ashburn, Va., made waves by winning the novice ladies competition. (Klaus-Reinhold Kany)


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By Lynn Rutherford and Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to
(07/22/2013) - A Brazilian gladiator mowed down the competition at the Liberty Summer Competition, winning the senior men's short program and free skate events.

Luiz Manella, who was born in Londrina, Brazil, and moved to Miami at age 8, landed the best combination of the event -- a solid triple Lutz-triple toe -- in his Gladiator free. He hit four other triples and notched three Level 4 spins to earn 118.06 points.

"I grew up in Portugal and Miami and speak fluent Portuguese," the 18-year-old said. "Londrina is close to São Paulo. My whole family, except my parents and sister, still lives in Brazil."

Manella trains in Coral Springs, Fla., under Artem Torgashev, a two-time world junior pairs medalist with Ekaterina Murugova. He shares the rink with U.S. world junior pairs champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, whom he calls "good friends."

"I was pretty happy with the free today," said Manella, who rotated but fell on his opening triple Axel. "Of course, I have to do better. We toned down the [jump content] because I just changed boots. The program is supposed to start with a quad [toe] with the triple Axel in the middle."

Manella will compete at Nebelhorn Trophy in September, where he hopes to qualify for a men's Olympic spot and represent Brazil. He would be the first Olympic figure skater in Brazil's history.

Alaska's Keegan Messing opened his Zorro free, choreographed by Rory Flack-Burghart, with a solid quad toe-double toe that gained pluses from all seven judges. He doubled several other jumps and popped a triple Axel into a single. On the plus side, he gained Level 4s on his three spins, and his choreography was mature and controlled.

He earned 116.60 points for second place; he was also second in the short.

"It was a good performance of the program, but way too many double jumps," Ralph Burghart, Messing's longtime coach, said. "It's the second time he's landed the quad in competition this summer, and he's on the right track. If he does that program with all of the tricks, he can compete with the highest level."

"It wasn't the program I wanted and expected to do here," Messing said. "The first quad worked, but nothing else did. The triple Axel is normally very consistent. I don't know what happened today."

Junior and novice roundup

Elena Taylor, who trains in Euless, Texas, under Darleen and Peter Cain, won the junior ladies free skate with 86.97 points.

Taylor, who turns 15 in a few weeks, credits her coaches with improving her technique.

"I have a lot more confidence," she said. "My jumps are more consistent. We're still working on the [triple] flip and Lutz."

Sandrine Martin of Quebec, 17, took top honors in the junior ladies short final and placed second to Taylor in the free skate final with 84.07 points.

"I'm very happy with her," said Annie Barabé, who has coached Martin since the skater was 7. "She [rotated] five triples in her long program here.

"We hope for a Junior Grand Prix. Canada has more entries this year, but there are more girls who can do the triples. Mike [Slipchuk, Skate Canada's high performance director] will decide after the Quebec Summer Competition."

Carly Berrios, who trains in Ashburn, Va., under Rashid Kadyrkaev, skated two solid free skates at Liberty and won the novice ladies final with an impressive 82.17 points, some 17 points higher than the field.

"My short wasn't great, but my frees were good," the 15-year-old said.

Berrios won her qualifying free skate group with 84.64 points, landing triple Lutz-double toe, triple flip, triple loop-double loop and triple Salchow.

The skater is working to add a triple toe-triple toe to her arsenal. Her big goal is to qualify for the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

"I'm having a strong summer," said Berrios, who placed seventh at Eastern sectionals last season. "Sectionals is in my home rink (in Ashburn), so that's a good sign."

Alice Qiao won the novice ladies short final, landing a triple Salchow-double toe combination and showing off beautiful, flexible spins.

Brian Krentz won both the junior men's short and free skate. His coach, Cindy Caprel, hopes U.S. Figure Skating will consider him for a Junior Grand Prix.

Daniel Petrenko, son of 1986 world junior champion Vladimir Petrenko, won the novice men's short. Sean Conlon won the novice men's free.

More Liberty notes

Georgia's Elene Gedevanishvili competed her short program at Liberty, but missed her jumps and placed 12th. The two-time European bronze medalist recently moved from Toronto -- where she trained with Brian Orser -- to Boxborough, Mass., where she trains under Konstantin Kostin and Edouard Pliner.

"There was no big argument between me and [Orser]," Gedevanishvili said. "I wanted to live closer to my family. They couldn't visit me often in Toronto."

Kostin isn't concerned about his skater's performance at Liberty.

"She wasn't ready. She has only been with us for six weeks; she spent some time deciding on her coaching."

After placing 29th at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships, Gedevanishvili must qualify for an Olympic ladies spot at Nebelhorn Trophy in September.

Liberty featured a large contingent from Hackensack, N.J.'s Ice House, including several Israeli skaters. New pair Anya (Andrea) Davidovich and Evgeni Krasnopolski made its debut, placing second to Estonians Natalja Zabijako and Aleksandr Zaboev in both the short and free. Krasnopolski was 11th at the 2012 European Figure Skating Championships with former partner Danielle Montalbano. Davidovich competed internationally as a junior lady.

Alex Bychenko, 31st at the 2013 World Championships, was ninth in both the short and free at Liberty. Montalbano competed in senior ladies, skating a techno version of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" for her short as well as an elegant Dr. Zhivago free, in which she landed two double Axels.

The Israelis plan to compete at Nebelhorn to earn Olympic berths. Israeli ice dancers Allison Reed and Vasili Rogov, who train under Galit Chait in Hackensack, will also compete there. Their short dance is set to "Hit the Road, Jack" and their free to Pirates of the Caribbean. Reed competed for Georgia at the 2010 Olympics with former partner Otar Japaridze.

"I hope to gain Israeli citizenship in time for Sochi," she said.

Allison's older siblings, Cathy and Chris, also train under Chait and assistant coach Tyler Myles. After placing 20th at the 2013 World Championships, they are under pressure to earn that Olympic ice dance spot for Japan at Nebelhorn. Japan needs them to help qualify disciplines in the new team event.

Igor Shpilband choreographed their free dance to Shogun, and their short dance is set to "Putting on the Ritz" and "Harlem Nocturne."

Michal Brezina, the European bronze medalist, was at Liberty to cheer on his Hackensack training partners. He reports he went to Detroit Skating Club in June to work with Pasquale Camerlengo on a new free skate to the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack. He is slated to compete in Slovenia at the end of August, followed by the Japan Open in early October.

This season, he hopes to add a quad flip to his programs.

"Quad toe is not a great jump for me. I will do quad Salchow and will also try quad flip, if it works in practice."

Michal's sister, Eliska, is training in Hackensack this summer. She will compete for a ladies Olympic spot for Czech Republic at Nebelhorn.