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(Northern Ice SC), garnered the bronze medal with 91.77 points. Teir free skate to music from Mary Poppins included an opening double flip, a Level 4 combi- nation spin and a throw double loop. “I think what is important is that they

achieved two clean programs under pressure,” said Stefania Berton, who, with husband Rockne Bru- baker, coaches the young team. “Tey are one of the younger teams,” Bru-

baker added. “With their ability, they are going to continue improving and moving up in level, but I think for a long time they will be one of the younger teams, so having things that are fun and exciting and keep it light really goes with their age and maturity level. Stefania choreographed both programs and did an awesome job. I’m excited how they responded.” Te team, Brubaker said, experienced several firsts in Kansas City, including skating last in the event.

“It was a tight race,” he said. “Before this year

they had never done throw doubles or overhead lifts, so it was a good challenge for them through- out the week. Tey are both competitors and they thrive on that.” Altice Sollazo and Paul Yeung secured the

pewter medal with 88.87 points.


Katarina Wolfkostin and Howard Zhao, who won the ice dance crown by nearly 17 points over the field, make quite an impression on their coach, Pasquale Camerlengo. “Oh, they are impossible to train,” joked Ca- merlengo, who puts the youngsters through their paces at the Detroit Skating Club. “Actually, I’m kidding,” he quickly added.

“Tey are the kind of skaters that when you ex- plain something, they understand it right away, and the moves are magically there. It’s just a plea- sure to have them in our group.” Ever since moving to Detroit last summer,

Wolfkostin (Peninsula SC) and Zhao (Detroit SC) have drilled their technical elements and steps with Camerlengo and his associate Natalia An- nenko-Deller. It showed in the event’s two pattern dances, the European Waltz and Rocker Foxtrot, where the couple gained all Level 4s and amassed 52.81 points. “We’re a little bit of a small team, so we’re

always trying to skate bigger and more mature, so we can keep up with bigger teams,” Zhao said. Tey further distanced themselves from the

field with their free dance to Mary Poppins, show- ing off quick feet, smooth gliding and a speedy closing rotational lift. Tey garnered all Level 4s, except for a Level 3 for the diagonal step sequence, and finished with an impressive 107.19 points. “Our coaches really worked on the lines and the straightness of our skating, and overall pizzazz of the performance,” Wolfkostin said. Te skaters, who are both home-schooled, spend most of their days at the rink, where they take ballet classes and work out in the gym after their skating practices. “We’re the youngest skaters at DSC, and


that’s really nice,” Zhao said. “It’s good to skate with teams in upper levels, so you have someone to look up to.” “Tey are very precise on their execution,

and I’m glad they were rewarded here,” Camer- lengo said. “Now, though, we must work on the skating skills for novice. I told them, ‘Te hard work is about to start.’” Layla Karnes (All Year FSC) and Jeffrey

Chen (Peninsula SC), winners of the juvenile title last season, settled for the silver medal here with 94.53 points. Second after the pattern dances, the couple

— who are coached by Christine Fowler-Binder in Southern California — performed a smooth and fluid free dance to Johann Strauss’ “Blue Danube Waltz,” choreographed by 1984 British Olympic ice dance champion Christopher Dean. Tey had a bit of trouble with their twizzles, but gained Level 4s for their spin and rotational lift. “It was a real honor to work with Christo-

pher,” Karnes said. “We really appreciated the op- portunity.” Dean is famous for designing difficult ele-

Katarina Wolfkostin/Howard Zhao

ments, which tested the youngsters’ limits. “It was a challenge to get under time and

hold those positions,” Chen said of the free dance’s rotational lift, which gained Level 4. “It took a lot of work.” It was a big week for Chen’s family. His older

sister, Karen, won the U.S. ladies title. Siblings Paulina Brykalova and Daniel

Brykalov (St. Paul FSC) rose from fourth place after the pattern dances to win the bronze med- al with 89.25 points after a fun and creative free dance to music from the Kung Fu Panda 3 soundtrack.

Te skaters, who train in Novi, Michigan,

under Igor Shpilband and Greg Zuerlein, showed off long lines as well as intricate steps. Daniel said training alongside

stars like

Madison Chock and Evan Bates, as well as inter- national couples, provides daily motivation. “Te environment is amazing,” he said. “It

inspires us to be the very best we can be.” Another brother-and-sister team, Maria Sol-

datova and Faddey Soldatov (Washington FSC), garnered the pewter medal with 82.20 points.


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