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setts, who trains at the Bog Ice Arena in Kings- ton, Massachusetts, and at Hobomock Arena in Pembroke, Massachusetts. “I thought I did a good job of getting higher components than I usually do. I’ve been working on improving my landings, movements, interpretation, holding positions lon- ger.”

Annis’ attention to detail paid off with the

event’s top components mark and overall score of 58.13 points. “He skated a fantastic program,” said Karen Lehmann, who, with Debbie Minahan, coaches Annis. “We couldn’t be more proud of him. He nailed that first combination beautifully like he does in practice. He had a slight bobble on a dou- ble-double combination, but he threw in an extra combination at the end. It was an outstanding performance in our eyes.” Annis, the Eastern Sectional champion, was

fifth last year at sectionals and failed to qualify for the U.S. Championships. “I think all year he’s had a very defined goal

for himself and that drove him to improvement and kept it up all year long,” Minahan said. Robert Yampolsky (North New Jersey FSC)

landed seven double jumps, including two double Axels, to grab the silver medal with 54.78 points. Performing to “Sikuriadas” by Incantation,

Sydney Flaum/Chase Finster

Yampolsky attacked the demanding program, which ended with a change-foot combination spin that received a Level 4. His big point-maker was a double Axel-loop-double flip that generated 7.01 points.

“I like the jumps the most and the satisfac- tion when I land them,” he said of his overall skat- ing. “I’m usually not afraid of them.” Yampolsky, who is coached by Anton Ni-

menko and lives in Livingston, New Jersey, fin- ished second at the Eastern Sectional Champion- ships behind Annis. Last year, he placed second at regionals and sixth at sectionals. Kai Kovar (Wasatch FSC) turned back the clock with an entertaining ’70s pop program pro- duced by Te Piano Guys. Te fifth-grader from Ogden, Utah, landed two double Axels, one in combination, and received Level 4 for two spins, en route to a score of 54.62 and a bronze medal. “It felt great,” said Kovar, who wore a costume with the King of Pop Michael Jackson in mind. “I just wanted to be on the podium this year.” Last year, Kovar placed sixth at sectionals and failed to qualify for the U.S. Championships. “I thought he really stepped up as far as per-

formance and execution of the program,” said his coach and mother, Amanda Kovar. “He wanted to leave his mark and be remembered.”

Kai is also coached by his father, Karel, and

Genia Chernyshova, who coached 2017 U.S. men’s champion Nathan Chen early in his career. “She became part of our team a year ago,”

Amanda Kovar said of Chernyshova. “She’s been an incredible help to him and to us. It takes a team to develop a great skater. She helps him to have confidence in himself.” Liam Kapeikis (Wenatchee FSC) secured the

pewter medal with 53.46 points. Kapeikis, who is also coached by his parents, won the Pacific Coast Sectional Championships, with Kovar placing second.

Kapeikis landed two double Axels, one in combination.


In the case of the newly crowned juvenile pairs champions, distance makes the heart grow fonder. Long daily commutes are the norm in skating — stories of homework and meals in the car going from rink to rink are common — but Sydney Flaum (Broadmoor SC) and Chase Finster (Northern Kentucky SC) are making a cross-country partnership work for them. Skating together since September, Colora-

do-based Flaum and Kentucky-based Finster train together for a stretch every month when Finster goes to Colorado Springs to work with Flaum and coaches Dalilah Sappenfield and Drew Meekins. “When I’m in Kentucky I train for singles,”

Finster explained. “When I’m in Colorado I train for pairs. I try to go out there every month for at least two or three weeks to train with Sydney.” For her part, Flaum has traveled to Kentucky

once in the young partnership, but said she is working on going more, especially now that they have the hardware to prove their arrangement is working.

“Tis is my second time at nationals and my first time getting in the top three,” she said. “I’m getting a fancy medal and it’s been very fun.” Sappenfield credits the quick rise to the top

of the juvenile ranks, a title they won with a free skate score of 46.64 after performing to Singin’ in the Rain, on their look, skating styles and desire to have fun.

“Both are really strong singles skaters and

they get along really well so we have a lot of fun,” Sappenfield said. “Tey both love doing pairs and it was a good match. Tey skate similar and they have a good height difference. It’s always nice when you have a team that likes to skate together and have fun together, especially at this level.” For silver medalists Josephine Hagan and

Evan Whitlow (Louisville Skating Academy), their biggest challenge has proven to be meshing their styles as individual skaters. “Te toughest part is the blending of styles

and timing with each other,” coach Kelley Mor- ris-Adair said. “We’ve worked really hard on the matching and it’s been a great year.” Performing to music from Te Mummy¸

Hagan and Whitlow, who teamed up last May, earned a free skate score of 45.59 points. Teir score at the U.S. Championships was four points

52 MARCH 2017


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