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NOVICE PAIRS A match made in Florida; Coleman, Griffin win gold medal


BY TROY SCHWINDT Erin Coleman and Derrick Griffin (Panthers


FSC) don’t have much of a track record together as a pairs team, but their victory in Kansas City pro- vided a glimpse of what could be a bright future. Te Pembroke Pines, Florida-based team won both segments of the competition, claim- ing the event by nearly 14 points with a score of 134.44.


“Tis is how they practice, but we weren’t


sure how they’d do,” coach and 2010 Olympian Jeremy Barrett said. “Tis is their first nationals, so we weren’t sure how they’d handle the nerves but they handled them really well.”


Coleman, who was a singles skater last season,


displayed those fearless pairs girl characteristics, while Griffin, a former ice dancer who stands out at 6 feet 3 inches and athletic, showcased his strength and agility.


“Tey are a great match,” Barrett said. Coleman, 15, and Griffin, 20, led by nearly six points heading into the free skate. For their free skate to Te Piano Guys’ “Beethoven’s 5 Secrets,” they received a Level 4 for their double twist and one of their lifts, landed their double Axels, and received high marks for their footwork. Tey easi- ly had the top component score of the event. Teir friendship, Griffin said, has been a cat- alyst for their instant chemistry on the ice. “We go everywhere together,” he said. “Once


off the ice, we go grab breakfast, we work out to- gether, we get in the car and go somewhere. We’re one big, happy family.” Te two receive daily inspiration from the


French pairs team of Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès. “We see how Morgan and Vanessa do it, how they attack anything they go into,” Griffin said. “Tey attack with emphasis and that’s what our coaches stress to us. Just go and attack and the results will happen.” For silver medalists Ainsley Peterson (All Year FSC) and Kristofer Ogren (Kansas City FSC), this competition held some sentimental meaning, since Ogren hails from the Kansas City area. “Competing in my hometown has been so


amazing,” said Ogren, who with Peterson, trains in Colorado Springs, Colorado, under coaches Dalilah Sappenfield and Drew Meekins. “Te support here has been spectacular. I was super emotional performing for them.” Second in both segments of the event, Pe-


terson and Ogren showed a bit of nerves near the end of their free skate to music from Te Addams Family. Teir final lift and spin received negative grades of execution after a clean and entertaining program up to that point. Tey finished with 120.86 points. “Tey have been a little sharper in practice,”


Sappenfield said. “Tat last lift is such a good lift for them. I think there were a little bit of nerves skating in front of your hometown, and wanting to skate well for your club.” Together for two seasons, Peterson and


Ogren finished eighth in novice in 2016. “Our next thing is getting double Axels,” Sap-


penfield said. “He can do double Axels; she’s very close. We’ve started throw triples. Tis year was a lot of development still, because we didn’t have a lot of time last year since they got together very late.” “Tere was a lot of focus on quality this year,”


Meekins added. “Teir quality has improved a lot, which was a priority of theirs.” Te brother-and-sister team of Greta Cra-


foord and John Crafoord (Los Angeles FSC) fin- ished third in both segments of the event, scoring 112.03 total points. Te twins are coached in Alisa Viejo, California, by Jenni Meno and Todd Sand. For their Aaron Copland “Rodeo” free skate, the


Crafoords executed a nice opening lift, double loops and strong footwork. Te 16-year-olds, who finished second as juveniles in 2014 and were fifth in 2015 in intermediate, have physically matured to handle some of the tougher pairs elements. “Definitely, the lifts and twists have gotten


easier,” said Greta, who worked through a hip in- jury early in the season to compete. “We are able to do them more correctly.” “I was really satisfied with the flow, and our


interpretation of the music has improved a lot,” John said of the team’s free skate. “We are smiling and happy.”


When they are not skating, Greta and John


attend Aliso Niguel High School in Aliso Viejo, where Greta runs middle distance, the 1600-me- ter run and pole vaults. John plays hockey. “Tey are great kids, a great family,” Meno


said. “Tey are good skaters, have great edges. Tey skate very fast, so we’ve worked on smooth- ing them out. John has grown a ton this year. Tis year they’ve started doing some of the bigger lifts, but it wasn’t really a priority as much as just devel- oping them at their own pace.” Eliana Secunda and Blake Eisenach (Rocky


Mountain FSC) earned the pewter medal with 104.47 points.


Erin Coleman/Derrick Griffin


Ainsley Peterson/Kristofer Ogren


Greta Crafoord/John Crafoord SKATING 47


PHOTOS BY JAY ADEFF/U.S. FIGURE SKATING


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