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ed at the U.S. Collegiate Championships. But he echoes a common theme to those new to adult competition. “I love the support and camaraderie that goes

on here,” he said. “Everyone is so friendly.” Szabo, of the Detroit SC, opened his pro- gram with a double Axel that was so huge the audience gasped before they cheered. It received a full point of positive grade of execution. Szabo’s sophisticated program, skated to music from Cine- ma Paradiso, was as smooth as cream poured from a silver pitcher. He took the audience on a journey that continued with seven more double jumps. Szabo has been working with a friend who is a


technical controller, but ultimately Szabo’s lack of combinations and Level 1s on his spins held him just about a point and a half behind Palmeri. “I’m still happy that I stayed on my feet and

gave a performance,” Szabo said. “And I’m plan- ning on coming back next year.” Te bronze medal went to Grant Chien-Hao

Huang of the Kansas City FSC. Skating to a lively Sinatra medley, Huang performed for the crowd as much as the judges. Still, he shook his head when it was all over.

“I was like a cat out there,” he said. “I felt like I was coming down sideways, but somehow landing on my feet. I felt off, but I just told myself,

‘Sell, sell, sell!’”

And sell it, he did. Coached by Maryellen Lindsay, Huang cho-

reographs his own numbers and cuts his own mu- sic. He received a Level 3 on his flying change-foot sit spin and completed eight double jumps to earn 54.00 points and a spot on the podium. Hometown favorite Stewart Sturgeon, of the

Utah FSC, skated to cheers as loud as his music. Completing seven doubles and earning a Level 4 on his opening spin. Sturgeon took the pewter medal by a .01 point margin over former champi- on Larry Holliday.

BY MIMI WHETSTONE Each of the top three competitors fought for

her hardware, overcoming obstacles to earn every point. For gold medalist Avery Bandel of the Great Falls FSC, getting through her program was an ac- complishment in itself. “I train 20 minutes a week and my rink only has ice six months a year,” Bandel, who trains at Great Falls Community Ice Plex in Great Falls, Montana, said. “Our last day of ice was March 27, so I came here with the attitude of, ‘You know what? I haven’t even been on the ice in a couple of weeks, so let’s just see what happens!’ I’d play my program at home and do jump squats the entire time my music was playing. Tat was pretty much all I could do to train.” For the last four years, Bandel has driven 280 miles once a month to the Valley Event Center in Glasgow, Montana, for extra training. Skating to music from the Back to the Future trilogy in Salt Lake City, she earned 44.13 points for her per- formance, which included a double toe loop, an Axel-double toe combination and two double Sal- chows, one in combination with a single loop. Her score held her on top of the podium, less than a point ahead of silver medalist Suzanne Himmer- ich, who represents the Washington FSC, and less than three points above bronze medalist Amanda Blackwell of the Channel Islands FSC. For Himmerich, custom-cut pieces from Les

Misérables were more than just her music of choice for this season. “I really like the story behind the music,”

Himmerich said. “Sometimes you feel discour- aged, but you’ve always got to keep going. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs in life and some- how I’ve made it through. At one point I was a fos- ter kid, then I was on my own and I got a college degree, and now I just bought a house, all myself. I’m happy to be who I am now and be skating. I’ve always had skating.” Himmerich earned 43.63 points for her ef-

forts, ahead of Blackwell’s 41.87. Blackwell opened her “Malagueña” performance with a double Sal- chow and executed a Lutz-loop-loop, her highest

12 JUNE-JULY 2015

(l-r) Suzanne Himmerich, Avery Ban- del, Charlene Mills, Amanda Blackwell

scoring element, despite a series of health issues the day before.

“I was in the

hospital yesterday af- ter an asthma attack,” Blackwell said. “Tey said it was a bad combination of the altitude here, allergies and anxiety. Tey decided it was OK for me to skate, but I didn’t prac- tice this morning because I was still feeling short of breath. I pulled it together and focused on breathing during my program. I really drew from my training and relied on how prepared I knew I was.” Earning the pewter medal,

Charlene Mills, representing home club and event hosts Salt Lake Figure Skating, scored 39.49 points.

Avery Bandel


BY ANDY SCHELL Skating to “Warsaw Concerto,” Charles

Huang won the event with an inspiring per- formance and commanding score that was more than 10 points higher than his nearest competitor’s.

A dentist who owns his own practice,

the All Year FSC representative came to Salt Lake City a week early to acclimate to the higher elevation.

“I was jumping too big, too high in my opening combination,” Huang said. “I guess I acclimated.” Coached by former World Junior cham-

pion Derrick Delmore, Huang tweaked his program from sectionals to balance his stami- na.

“I was reticent to change things,” Del-

more, who choreographed the program, said. “But I eventually relented and the result was positive.”

Earning a combined score of 47.17,

Huang had the event’s highest element and components scores. Besides landing five dou- ble jumps, Huang earned a Level 4 on his stunning change-foot combination spin — the only Level 4 awarded in the event. Huang wants to keep moving forward. “It’s hard to balance skating, work and personal life, but I want to move up,” Huang said.


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