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Carriere, Taylor, Su jump out to lead at collegiates

Boston College product tops senior men's field; Delaware skater edges field in first showing

Boston College's Stephen Carriere earned a segment-leading 62.47 points in DePere, Wis.
Boston College's Stephen Carriere earned a segment-leading 62.47 points in DePere, Wis. (Rob Ambrosius)

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By Brenda Glidewell, special to icenetwork.com
(08/02/2013) - The 2013 U.S. Collegiate Figure Skating Championships kicked off Friday afternoon with the junior ladies taking the ice for their short program in DePere, Wis., just outside of Green Bay. Twelve junior ladies, representing 11 different Universities competed in the event.

Flora Su of the University of Vermont secured the lead following the short program with a breathtakingly beautiful routine to the love theme from the movie Cousins. Su returned to collegiates this year with the goal of bettering her fourth place result in 2012. Su's well-choreographed routine included a huge double loop, under-rotated double Axel, Level 3 step sequence and fast spins. They were complemented by her beautiful ice presence, earning her a total score of 33.30.

"I am very happy with how my program went! I enjoyed collegiates so much last year, I couldn't wait to get back here to compete again in this fun atmosphere and skate with my peers," Su said.

Su will begin her third year of college as an environmental engineering major.

Finishing closely behind Su in second place was Kaitlyn Young of Northwestern University with a score of 32.38 points. Young, who will be a freshman majoring in biology, skated a creatively choreographed routine to the music from Dark Eyes. Young thoroughly enjoyed her first competitive experience at collegiates, especially since her sister, and fellow collegiate competitor (in senior ladies), was there to cheer her on.

Young said it was an "OK performance, and I look forward to skating better tomorrow."

Young's short program included a solid double loop, a huge double Axel, a Level 4 combo spin and energetic choreography.

Finishing in third place with a combined score of 26.96 points was sophomore Alexis McDonell of Syracuse University. McDonell placed third in this event last year. She skated a program containing great speed, lots of energy and detailed choreography, highlighting her fast spins and solid jumps.

Senior ladies short program

Taking the ice next were 22 senior ladies who displayed a substantial amount of quality skating, nicely executed jumps and solid performances in pursuit of the lead following the short program.

Leading the pack with a score of 43.16 points is first-time collegiate competitor Courtney Taylor of the University of Delaware. Taylor, an incoming freshman, will be an athletic training major. Taylor quickly took command of the ice as she executed a huge triple toe-double toe combination (with an error on the landing), followed up by a triple Salchow, beautiful layback that received a Level 3, a Level 2 step sequence and a Level 4 combination spin. Her program was comprised of energetic choreography, powerful skating and expressive movements.

Taylor remarked that she was "really, really happy" with how she skated.

"I went for everything and had the goal of smiling and feeling no pressure when I was out there," she said. "I feel that I achieved that, and, in turn, I also achieved a personal best score. I am so excited to skate my long program tomorrow."

Biology/pre-med major Farah Sheikh of the University of Kentucky sits in second place with a score of 40.74 points after a strong short program to "Melaguania" in which she completed an awesome double Axel, solid triple Salchow-double toe combination and double Lutz. Her program contained flowing choreography and beautifully extended body positions that were complemented by a Level 4 combination spin, a Level two layback and step sequence.

Sheikh stated that she was "really pleased" with her debut at collegiates and how she performed her program. She also commented that she could go home tonight knowing she performed as well as she did.

Finishing in third place with a score of 40.40 points was four-time collegiate championships competitor Amber Walczyk of Oakland University. Walczyk is beginning her final year of her undergraduate studies as a psychology major.

Following recent blade and equipment issues, Walczyk was able to draw upon her psychology studies to skate a solid program to "Lysistrata". Her routine contained a downgraded triple loop combination, triple Salchow that she stepped out of and a huge double Axel. She received a Level 4 on her step sequence and Level 3 on her flying spin.

Walczyk said that she was able "to pull on the energy at the event to skate and enjoy" her performance.

"It was not my best short program," she said, "But I am pleased with the outcome."

Senior men's short program

Last to skate their short program Friday evening were the senior men, and they did not disappoint.

A sizable lead was claimed by Boston College's Stephen Carriere. Carriere, who is entering his junior year as a marketing and finance major, competed previously at the 2013 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, placing 10th, and is the 2008 U.S. bronze medalist and 2007 world junior champion. He opened his program with a huge triple Axel (that he fell out of) and a fast Level 4 combination spin. He followed that up with a solid triple loop-double toe, double Lutz, Level 4 step sequence and flying spin, and a Level 3 combination spin that concluded his exquisitely choreographed routine to the music of "Scheherazade." His performance earned him a score of 62.47 points.

"It is wonderful to compete at collegiates, in this relaxed atmosphere, against skaters who are also full-time college students," Carriere said. "That was not my best performance, but I enjoyed my time on the ice. I look forward to my free skate and performing that program as I do in training."

Finishing in second place with a score of 51.54 points was Sebastien Payannet of the University of Colorado-Boulder, who executed a very nice triple toe-double toe combination, a huge double Axel, Level 3 flying spin and step sequence and combination spin, and a Level 4 combination spin.

Skating to Tin Tin, Payannet remarked, "I am very pleased with my performance. I had so much fun out there tonight! It was great to be announced as representing my university, and to hear the judges announced that way too; that really relaxed me!"

Third place was claimed by Daniel Palmeri, incoming freshman at Macomb Community College, with a score of 43.89 points following his creatively choreographed routine to "Claire de Lune" that contained a nice double Axel, Level 4 step sequence and solid combination spin.