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NOVICE ICE DANCE


New kids on the block claim title BY MIMI MCKINNIS


When Jocelyn Haines and James Koszuta (Amherst SC) took the ice in Kansas City, they had only six months and two competitions un- der their belts. Unlike the majority of their com- petitors, they don’t train among a camp of other teams, opting instead to train solo in Amherst, New York, motivated by only each other and coach Bianka Szijgyarto. In a fi eld of ice dance veterans, one that in-


cluded reigning bronze medalists, two-time U.S. champions and a slew of more-tenured teams, Haines and Koszuta came out on top, winning the title by more than fi ve points. “I’m honestly not sure how they did it so fast, but these two have the work ethic,” Szijgy- arto said. “T ey train by themselves. T ere’s no other teams around them. We came here just to enjoy, celebrate the hard work they’ve put in and hopefully beat their personal-best scores. To fi nish as champions — we’re overwhelmed.” Leading after the pattern dance segment, which consisted of the Viennese Waltz and the Blues, Haines and Koszuta cemented their stand- ing with an eff ortless free dance to music by Frank Sinatra and T omas Newman. T ey fi nished without a single negative GOE, demonstrating el- egance, poise and a technical savvy much beyond their infant partnership, good for a total score of 114.66. “I’m thrilled and honored and just so excit-


ed,” Haines said. “It’s a nice feeling to get off the ice and feel good about what you’ve done,” Koszuta added. “We knew we had done what we were supposed to do and we work so well together. It’s been a great week.”


Katarina DelCamp (Dallas FSC) and Max-


well Gart (All Year FSC) claimed the silver medal after, like the champions, teaming up just seven months prior to the event. T e duo, who sat in fourth place after the pattern dances, pulled up to the second spot after an impressive Bolly- wood-style free dance to music from Slumdog Millionaire. “T ey’re natural performers,” Matthew


Gates, who coaches the team with Svetlana Ku- likova in Simsbury, Connecticut, said. “We were actually really happy with the results of the pattern dance because they’re a new team. Pattern danc- es are so technical and those diffi cult steps are so hard to master quickly, but they love music. T ey love to perform. T e free dance came together much easier for them.” T ey earned a segment score of 66.78, en


route to a combined total of 108.97. Less than a point behind, siblings Sophia


Elder and Christopher Elder (Louisville Skating Academy) persevered through growth spurts this season to maintain their standing and repeat as bronze medalists with 108.79 points. “I’ve grown at least two inches and he’s grown more than that, and we’ve defi nitely tried


48 MARCH 2017 Jocelyn Haines/James Koszuta


Katarina DelCamp/Maxwell Gart


to take advantage of that,” Sophia said. “You al- ways want your performance to be huge, making your movements as big as you can with every part of your body. T ere’s more of us to perform now, so we’re defi nitely working to maximize those points as we grow up.” “We’re happy. We’ve really improved a lot


over the last season, even if our placement is the same,” Christopher added.


Sophia Elder/Christopher Elder T e siblings sat fi rst after their Blues pattern


dance, set to “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles, and fi nished with a powerful free dance to “Mas- querade Waltz” by Aram Khachaturian. Elizabeth Tkachenko and Alexei Kiliakov


(Washington FSC), who won U.S. juvenile and intermediate titles in 2015 and 2016, respectively, fi nished with the pewter medal, scoring 100.41 points.


DIXIE KNUDSON/U.S. FIGURE SKATING


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