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JUNIOR LADIES Champion Nguyen


always smiling BY TROY SCHWINDT Coaches Ivan Dinev and Angela Nikodin-


ov never worry about having to motivate Kaitlyn Nguyen (Los Angeles FSC) when the 13-year-old shows up to train at Te Skating Edge Ice Arena in Harbor City, California. “She comes with a smile on her face every


day,” Dinev said. “Te attitude. She works every day to get better. She’s dedicated to everything she does.”


Tat commitment to excellence paid off in


her native state — she was born near St. Louis in Hazelwood, Missouri — as Nguyen rallied from third place after the short program to easily win the free skate and title with an impressive score of 170.16 points. “She’s was prepared to compete here,” Dinev


said. “She’s been skating clean programs. While it wasn’t perfect, she displayed so much confidence.” Nguyen had to withdraw from the U.S. Champi- onships last year in the novice ranks because of a fever.


Nguyen entered the free skate 2.51 points


behind short program leader Emmy Ma (SC of Boston). Her free skate to the musical Chess was well skated and the most technically challenging pro- gram of the event, featuring seven triple jumps. She opened with a triple Lutz-single loop-tri- ple Salchow that generated an event-best 11.40 points. Nguyen followed that jumping pass with a triple loop-double toe loop combination. A dou-


ble Axel-triple toe also generated big points. Two of her spins and her footwork received Level 4s. She received minor deductions on an under-


rotated triple Lutz and on a triple loop. “I feel really happy,” Nguyen, who moved to California last spring from her home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said. “I did a clean program. I couldn’t have done this without my amazing coaches.”


Nguyen’s competitive nature came out even as she exited the ice after her free skate. “She was happy, but mentioned details that she can make more perfect,” Dinev said. Starr Andrews, (Los Angeles FSC), sixth in


novice in 2016, stepped up her game this season to secure the silver medal with 155.14 points. Andrews finished second in the short pro-


gram and third in her free skate to music from the movie Black Swan. Te erratic music offered Andrews a tough challenge, which she handled nicely. “We really based the program off the char-


acter in the movie,” coach and choreographer Derrick Delmore said. “Since the character is so erratic — the movie is a bit erratic as well — we wanted to capture that feel, which is why it really doesn’t follow the classical progression from the ballet or anything like that. “I thought she did a pretty good job of han-


dling it today. Tere were times I thought there was some hesitation, which got her in a little trouble. She did a good job fighting all the way through. Overall, I’m pleased.” Program highlights included an opening tri-


ple Salchow-triple toe loop-double toe loop com- bination that generated 10.90 points, two other triple jumps in combination, two Level 4 spins


and Level 3 footwork. She hit a rough patch in the middle with an edge call on a triple Lutz and a single flip on a planned triple-double combina- tion.


“I felt great,” Andrews said. “I felt prepared.


I would have liked to have put out a little better of a free skate, but at least I tried my best, did everything I could.” Ashley Lin (Dallas FSC) jumped from fifth place after the short program to grab the bronze medal with 153.34 points. She placed fourth in novice last year and seventh in intermediate in 2015.


“I think I’ve grown, developed more,” Lin


said of her progress. “I’m more confident with myself; all of the support of friends and family have been really helpful to me. I think self-con- fidence was really the key and to believe in your training.” Performing her “Sandstorm” free skate, Lin was skating a nearly clean program until she fell hard on double Axel-triple toe loop combination midway through her routine. “Tat was a rough landing,” she said. “It


didn’t really hurt at the time, but now that I’m done, I’m definitely feeling pretty sore.” Despite the fall, Lin landed six triple jumps


and recorded the second-best free skate of the event.


Looking ahead, Lin, an eighth grader at


Hunt Middle School in Frisco, Texas, said she is considering staying at the junior level next season, and credited her teachers for being so supportive. “Especially Ms. Jewell,” she said. Ma, who turned in a stellar short program,


struggled with her jumps in the free skate and ended up with the pewter medal.


Kaitlyn Nguyen


Starr Andrews


Ashley Lin SKATING 39


JAY ADEFF/U.S. FIGURE SKATING


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