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JUNIOR ICE DANCE Sublime Parsons win

long-sought gold BY LYNN RUTHERFORD Great as their free dance was in Kansas City,

Rachel Parsons has at least one idea for how it could be better. “I won’t punch Michael in the face next time,” she laughed. “I did that about 10 seconds into the second half, kind of a wild flying arm thing.” “She was making sure I was paying atten-

tion,” her brother said. No one watching noticed the whack, certainly not the judges. After three consecutive podium fin- ishes, including silver medals the last two seasons, Rachel and Michael (Washington FSC) capped their U.S. junior career with gold. It was another step in a dominant 2016–17 campaign that also saw them win the Junior Grand Prix Final. “Tis season, we’ve been really good at build- ing up our confidence, which in turn is making the skates better,” Michael said. “Now it’s a matter of keeping up the work ethic, making sure we’re still improving, and making sure the best skate we have all year is at (junior) Worlds.” In Kansas City, the Parsons’ sublime routine

to Sophia Sin’s contemporary ballad “Singing in the Rain” was fluid and intricate, full of interesting positions and impeccable lines. It gained six Level 4 elements and earned 103.91 points. Combined with their short dance score, it gave them 176.33 points total, outstripping the field by more than 11 points. “Before, we would only try to skate through

the steps,” Rachel said. “I think this year, espe- cially, we’re really trying to live our programs. We have to tell a story.” Te free dance told only part of the tale. Te

siblings, who won the World Junior silver medal last season, built a near two-point lead with their dynamic short dance to songs from Fergie and Lana Del Rey. Tey showed deep edges in their blues sequences before transitioning into hard-hit- ting hip-hop movements that came courtesy of their work with Baltimore, Maryland, street danc- er Esperonto Bean. “Te coaches have really been pushing us on the hip hop interpretation and not letting it down near the end of the program, to just explode and get everything out,” Michael said. Tose coaches, who hail from the Wheaton

Ice Skating Academy (WISA) in Maryland, think the siblings can be even stronger this month at the 2017 World Junior Figure Skating Champion- ships in Chinese Taipei. “We will continue to work on more connec- tions, on bigger movements, on power, on projec- tion,” Alexei Kiliakov, the team’s primary coach, said. Te Parsons, who teamed up in 2010 after skating with different partners, began training at WISA as young children. Troughout their ca- reers, they practiced side-by-side with Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter, the reigning World Junior champions and two-time (2015, 2016) U.S. junior titlists. Teir finishes were a

42 MARCH 2017

Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons

Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter

rung lower than the other couple’s until the Junior Grand Prix Final this season, where McNamara and Carpenter won bronze to the Parsons’ gold. In Kansas City, McNamara (Peninsula SC)

and Carpenter (Washington FSC) entered the free dance within striking distance of their longtime rivals. But Carpenter fell during a diagonal step sequence in their dramatic routine to a rock med- ley, a mistake that cost them more than six points. Second after the short dance, they placed third overall with 163.63 points. “If you’re always careful, you won’t know

how far you can push your performances and how much is too far,” McNamara said. “Our goal is to really push it as far as possible, see what happens, and see how expressive we can make it.” “[Te fall] has never happened before, but I think they did their best skate of the year,” Kilia- kov, said. “Maybe with the emotions and excite- ment, that [caused the fall] a little bit. Tey feel good, they feel they achieved what we were work- ing on, so hopefully they will do much better at junior Worlds.” Tird after the short dance, Christina Carreira

(SC of New York) and Anthony Ponomarenko (SC of San Francisco), who train with Igor Shpilband’s

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko

group in Novi, Michigan, took full advantage of McNamara and Carpenter’s costly mistake. Teir elegant free dance to “Exogenesis: Symphony Part III” by Muse built in intensity, earning straight Lev- el 4s for all elements and racking up 98.29 points. Te couple, fourth at the Junior Grand Prix Final, won silver with 165.06 points. “Our coach (Shpilband) really told us we needed to hit the musical accents, that it would help us look more mature, since senior teams al- ways hit their accents,” Ponomarenko said. ”Igor always tells us we really need to feel the music and skate to the music,” Carreira said. Ponomarenko’s parents, 1992 Olympic ice dance champions Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, coaxed him onto the ice in their hometown of San Jose, California, when he was 4. “When I first got onto the ice, it was pretty

funny,” Ponomarenko said. “I was crying, ‘I want to go home.’ Te more I skated the more I loved it. Te passion for the sport grew.” Chloe Rose Lewis (All Year FSC) and Logan

Bye (SC of NY), seventh in this event last year, claimed the pewter medal with 148.43 points.


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