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2012 U.S. ADUL T FIGURE SKA TING CHAMPIONSHIPS


spice up their program. “Jan and I set some goals this past season and our goal was to add a couple of new elements,” Stanford said. “Surprisingly it went very well,” “Our other big goal was get- ting our unison a lot stronger,” Calnan said. “We also wanted to have a program that we could play with, adding a little sass and at- titude and I think we hit that.” Bronze medalists Sailer and


Garber, who finished fourth at last year’s event, were particu- larly pleased with their perfor- mance. So was the crowd. “To look out at the audi- ence and get a standing ovation brought tears to my eyes,” Sailer said.


Garber agreed: “It was an excellent skate for


us. We were emotionally connected to the music and the audience.”


Te team added a new lift three weeks be-


fore nationals. “Our coaches said we should save it for next


year, that it was too close to the competition to put it in,” Garber said. “We told her, ‘naaaaaaah!’” Sailer smiled in agreement. “We have a tendency, because of work com- mitments and all, to land new things quickly, to have them come to fruition,” she said. “For us to do a new lift a month out and say, ‘Let’s do it,’ well, it’s become normal for us in the last year.”


CHAMPIONSHIP DANCE by BARB REICHERT


When it comes to taking it on the chin, this ice dance team takes the phrase literally. Over the years, Anna Li and William Eastler of


the Seattle Skating Club have had their share of falls. Te 2012 champions even wear them as a badge of honor, Eastler in the form of a distinct goatee. “It covers the 12 stitches I got from a fall a


few years ago,” he said touching his chin. “We’ve had a lot.” “And I’ve had many more falls than Wil-


liam,” Li chimed in.


All the hours of practice, the bumps, bruises and stitches paid off, as Li and Eastler skated away with the gold medal.


After winning both pattern dances the pre- vious night with a total of 34.17 points, Li and Eastler performed a beautiful free skate for a total of 65.24 points. April and Gilbert Chiang of the Skating Club of Oregon won the silver medal, despite two heartbreaking falls by Gilbert. Tey earned a two-day total score of 57.52 points. Molly Johnson and Kianoosh Samii of the


St. Mortiz Skating Club in San Mateo, Calif., took the bronze with 49.90 points. Debra and David Gaultier of the Detroit Skating Club missed the bronze by just 0.07 points, taking the


20 MAY 2012 Anna Li and William Eastler


pewter with 49.83 points. Li and Eastler, who have been skating to- gether for about six years, returned to the U.S. Adult Championships after a two-year break. Busy professional lives — he’s a software engi- neer for Microsoft in Seattle; she owns Twizzle- Pop Marketing — prompted the break. “We just got back on the ice in December,”


Li said. “In January, we started thinking about competing. I remember the day I thought, ‘OK, this is it: Te [entry] money’s going in!’” Considering their downtime, Li and East-


ler’s transitions appeared seamless. Near the end of the program — skated to a Josh Grogan piece — they executed an effortless hydroblade that seemed to glide forever. “I could really hear the crowd during that,”


Li said. “When you’re concentrating so much, you can barely hear them, but today while we were holding it, you could really hear them.” Li and Eastler credit their coaching team for getting them to this level. “We’d really like to thank our coaches, Ben


Agosto, Sharon Jones Baker, Steve Baker and Paul Askin. Tey really believed in us when we didn’t,” Li said, choking up with emotion. Agosto, who with partner Tanith Belbin


won five U.S. ice dance titles and the 2006 Olympic silver medal, said he has benefited from working with the couple. “Tey are very analytical and have chal-


lenged me to better understand my own tech- nique so that I can explain it properly,” Agosto said. “Te biggest challenge for them this year has been to learn how to turn off their brains and


just skate. Tey kept their heads under pressure, attacked their program and left it all on the ice. I am so proud of them!”


While the skating took center stage, it was


Katharina Gravenstein who stole the show sim- ply by taking the ice. Gravenstein, who skates with David Anthony of the Georgia Figure Skat- ing Club, is seven months pregnant, though her high-waisted dresses hid her “bump” quite well. After completing the waltz Friday, the crowd sprang to its feet and tossed dozens of baby gifts onto the ice. While the good-natured Graven- stein smiled at the gesture, she did appear to have a little trouble collecting the unusual tossies, so Johnson and Samii jumped onto the ice to help. “Te hardest part (about being pregnant)


is lacing up,” she said holding the tossies. “Te skating is actually fine. I was a little out of breath. It’s good exercise, and I think it’s made the preg- nancy a lot easier, staying active.”


Te tossies included a package of diapers,


baby dolls and boxes of Barbies. Gravenstein’s due date is early July. She’s expecting a boy. At the end of the competition, all five teams skated to the center of the ice, held hands and bowed in unison toward the officials. Tey then applauded both the tech panel and judg- es, some of whom applauded the competitors. It’s a tradition that Samii says began at the


2002 U.S. Adult Championships held in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Every time we do this, we look forward to


the very end of the competition so that we can thank the judges,” he said. “To us, the crowd is the judges, too, so we thank them.”


PHOTO BY TERRYL LEE ALLEN


April Chiang/Gilbert Chiang, Anna Li/William Eastler, Molly Johnson/Kianoosh Samii, Debra Gaultier/David Gaultier


PHOTO BY MATT PARAT


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