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U.S. JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS “I wanted to put out that com-

bination,” Conlon said. “After that, I relaxed and just wanted to enjoy the moment. Tis was a pretty good time to have a great performance.” Paolo Borromeo (13), from the

(l-r) Sean Conlon, Tomoki Hiwatashi, Paolo Borromeo, Harrison Wong

“I didn’t even have a hand

down or anything,” said Hiwatashi, who earned a total of 102.34 points. “It was the best skate of my competitive career.”

When asked about his goal for next season, when he will compete as a novice, Hiwatashi said, to what he may have perceived as a silly question, “to win.” His coaches Cydele Fadeev and

Alexandre Fadeev have a few more goals for their young charge. “He is an energetic skater, especially when he competes,” Al- exandre said. “He’s naturally flex- ible and brings his best at the right moments. All of that is great, but he needs to get stronger. Tat’s defi- nitely a goal, to add strength, before next year.” To break 80 points (in the free

Tomoki Hiwatashi

included one level four spin, one level three spin and a pair of triple Salchows, including one in combi- nation.

When asked about the speed and flexibility showcased in her spins, Nguyen, 12, credited her years of training as a gymnast. “Until two years ago, I was doing skating and gymnastics,” she said. “Two years ago I had to choose between the two and decided fig- ure skating is what is better for me. Tere are skills I learned in gymnas- tics that definitely help me on the ice.”

With a total of 95.89 points,

13-year-old Tyler Pierce secured the bronze medal. Pierce, who shares a coach, Tammy Gambill, and train- ing site with Nguyen, was excited she and her friend ended up on the podium.

“I am so happy we both me-

daled,” she said. “I could not be more thrilled with the experience I

20 FEBRUARY 2012

had at my first nationals.” Dalia Rivkin, the 2011 U.S.

juvenile champion, entered the free skate in third place and left with the pewter medal. She generated 95.24 total points.

— Renee Felton

INTERMEDIATE MEN Tomoki Hiwatashi is two for two at the U.S. Junior Champion- ships. A year after winning the juve- nile title, the precocious 11-year-old easily earned the 2012 intermediate crown with a pair of energetic and technical programs. His seven-point lead after the

short program ballooned to almost 18 following his “South Rampart Street Parade” free skate. Te pro- gram, which drew huge cheers and several bags of goodies from specta- tors, included two triple Salchows, one in combination, two level four spins and nearly 30 points worth of program components.

skate). To place in the top 10. To finish in the top five. To have fun. Check, check, check, check. Silver medalist Sean Conlon,

15, reached each of the goals he set for himself in his first trip to the U.S. Junior Championships. After missing out on a trip to the 2011 version of this event by just one spot, the SC of New York athlete was determined to change his fate this year. He upped his training time from five hours a week a year ago to at least 15 over the last sev- eral months. “Regionals last year provided

all the incentive he needed,” coach Helen Hyun-Bowlin said. “He worked really hard this year and proved he’s a star.” Conlon’s Casablanca free skate was highlighted by a double Axel- double toe combination. Mean- while, Conlon, who earned 55.76 points for the piece, worked the crowd in an elegant white tuxedo jacket and received a program com- ponents score of 27.45. He totaled 84.68 points for the week.

Palm Beach FSC, rebounded from a ninth-place showing after the short program to earn the bronze medal with a total score of 81.84 points. His “Lawrence of Arabia” program featured two triple Salchows and a pair of double Axels. “My goal was to come to in- termediate with two solid Axels and Salchows in my programs,” he said. “Now I feel I have accomplished a lot at the intermediate level and hope to move to novice next year to see what I can do.” Harrison Wong, of the La Jolla FSC, won the pewter medal with 81.23 points.

— Renee Felton

INTERMEDIATE PAIRS Madeleine Gallagher and Jona-

thon Horton struggled this season. Tey worried about the elements in their free skate. Tey worked through injuries. Tey felt things weren’t coming together. “Competitions before — it

wasn’t our all,” Gallagher said. “Ev- erything wasn’t just quite as it could be.”

But it finally came together in East Lansing, where they won the pairs title with 62.60 points. “Feeling Good” by Michael

Bublé played in the background as Horton and Gallagher glided across the ice. Tey smiled as the crowd erupted in cheers. “It was the first time I had a lot of fun during a competition,” Gal- lagher said. “I felt like we had it all. I felt like I was on air.” Horton knew they had had the best skate of their lives. “It couldn’t have been any bet-

ter,” Horton said. “It’s been one of the best feelings. I never thought in my wildest dreams it would hap- pen.”

Horton and Gallagher have

had a lot to overcome, including a hip injury Horton sustained after falling on a jump. It left him on and off the ice for about a month and required physical therapy. “[Te injury] was taking a toll on some of the stuff we did,” Hor- ton said. “Te whole season was a struggle.”


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