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the St. Moritz Ice Skating Club won the bronze with 28.57 points, edging out Ken Ho of the Pittsburgh Skating Club, who claimed the pew- ter with 28.04 points. Pizzo’s opening Lutz followed by a camel combination spin announced that he had found his way back from a difficult 2011 season. Skat- ing to “Fox to Phoenix” from the movie Harry Potter: Te Chamber of Secrets, he was focused and sharp.

“I chose my music because after last year

— well it didn’t go that well,” said Pizzo, who is coached by Peter Kongkasem and Sondra Holmes. “I like the metaphor of the phoenix that rises from the ashes and soars and flies. I tried to have that as my goal this year.” Skating second among the 12 skaters

worked in Pizzo’s favor. “For me that’s good,” he said. “I like to get

it done and relax. Tat way I don’t have all that anxiety listening to other people’s music while I wait [to skate], so I kind of like to have it done quickly.” Even with the gold medal around his neck,

Pizzo was most satisfied with having performed well on the championship ice.

“I was just pleased I could skate a clean

program,” he said. “Tat’s what I’m most happy about.”

Right at Pizzo’s heels was Paepke, who held

his face in part awe, part elation as he left the ice. Skating to French music that he admits he can’t pronounce (“I think it translates to ‘Te Straw Tat Broke the Golden Waltz’), he immediately got the crowd’s attention. His first four elements — a combination spin, double toe loop, double Salchow and a Lutz-loop-Axel combination — had the crowd on its feet. “It felt like I have practiced all week and it just felt good, it felt strong,” said Paepke, who slicked back his dark hair for that Parisian look. Paepke is from Cheverly, Md. Just as entertaining was Catindig, who

jazzed it up to music by Duke Ellington. A natu- ral performer who has only been skating for two years, his skating fed off the crowd. At one point, after a Lutz-toe loop combination, he made eye contact with fans, gave a smile and even a wave. “Te ice is my playground,” he said. “I like

entertaining the crowd. I want people to watch me and feel like, ‘Oh, I got my money’s worth,’” said Catindig, who is from Milpitas, Calif. Catindig’s program was going strong until an unexplainable fall as he was beginning to glide down the ice near the end. “My goal was not to be a bingo element,”

he said, referencing an Adult Championships bingo-card game that is distributed in fun. It features such squares as “Complete Stop Before Axel,” “Glitter on Body” and “Wrong Music/No Backup CD.” “I don’t know what happened,” he said with

a laugh. “When I landed the last combo, I was happy I didn’t fall. … When I got up, I told my-

Judy Mata and Vladimir Levchenkov SKATING 19 self, ‘You have the rest of the program. Sell it!”

CHAMPIONSHIP PAIRS by BARB REICHERT After a whimsical pairs performance as cir-

cus clowns, Judy Mata and Vladimir Levchenkov looked dejected as they left the ice and looked for their coach, Sergey Petrovskiy. “We didn’t do our best,” Levchenkov said,

“but I guess we can always do worse.” What the 2011 champions didn’t know was that their technically strong performance would hold up to win the gold medal. Mata and Levchenkov of the International

Center For Excellence earned 46.36 points, good enough to sneak past Jan Calnan and Mark Stan- ford, whose 45.22 points earned them a silver medal.

Winning the bronze medal with 41.08

points were Kimberly Sailer of the Wheeling Fig- ure Skating Club and partner David Garber of the Pittsburgh Figure Skating Club. Tara Cioppa of the North Jersey Figure Skating Club and Ste- phen Trzaska of the Washington Figure Skating Club won the pewter medal with 39.49 points. Mata and Levchenkov made some last- minute changes to their program after a spread eagle on a lift performed earlier in the week at the event was judged a carry. Te second-year pair adjusted well enough to become national cham- pions. Skating to lively music from Cirque du So-

leil, their vibrant, multicolored costumes set the tone for an entertaining program. “It’s a fun program,” said Levchenkov, who

gave a playful gesture to the judging panel as he skated by. “We wanted to bring some theatrical style. It’s the best program that I’ve ever skated.” Defending silver medalists Calnan (an indi- vidual member) and Stanford (Skating Club of New York) took the ice with a hand-slap ritual that finished with exploding fist pumps, indicat- ing they were ready to go. With strong lifts and solid throws, it was ap- parent that they worked hard in the off-season to


(l-r) Jan Calnan/Mark Stanford, Judy Mata/Vladimir Levchenkov, Kimberly Sailer/David Garber, Tara Cioppa/Stephen Trzaska


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