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Fans hit the stands in Utah

13 Sep

By Mimi Whetstone

The inaugural U.S. International Figure Skating Classic and U.S. Challenge Skate got under way yesterday as skaters, coaches and officials filled the Salt Lake City Sports Complex. As practice sessions commenced, fans from around the nation gathered to fill the stands and celebrate a sport they’ve followed for years.

“I came because it was reasonable travel for an international event and it’s a great chance to see both up-and-comers and skaters we’ve been watching for years,” said Barbara Ray of Eugene, Ore. “This is a brand new competition and I can’t wait for the events to start so I can clap for each and every one of the skaters. We get to know their skating and they all work so hard. It’s like supporting your family.”

Ray has been attending skating competitions since the late 1980s, including regional and sectional championships, Skate America, Canadian and U.S. Championships.

“I’ll go to any event that’s a manageable distance,” Ray said.

Shirlene Maughan (left), Barbara Kay (center) and Karin Olson (right) watch a senior ladies practice session at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic

Since 2005, Ray has traveled the globe with friend and fellow skating enthusiast Karin Olson, of Beaverton, Ore.  This year, Olson will attend her biggest event yet: the World Championships in London, Ontario.

“I started coming to competitions when the U.S. Championships were in Portland,” Olson said. “From there, I can’t even count the number of competitions I’ve been to. This year, we’re here at the International Classic and Challenge Skate, and then we’re going to sectionals in Provo, regionals in Eugene, Ore. and Skate America in Seattle.”

Joining May and Olson in the bleachers this week is Shirlene Maughan of Salt Lake City, who attended her first skating competition more than 25 years ago.

“When I was little, I loved watching the U.S. Championships and listening to Dick Button on television,” Maughan said. “One day I told myself that if an event ever came close, I was going to go. Then in 1984, the U.S. Championships came to Salt Lake City. Scott Hamilton was there competing and I went. When they came again in 1990, I got my first all-event ticket. From there, I was hooked.”

Since then, Maughan has attended every U.S. Championships, Skate America and World Championships within a reasonable traveling distance.

“I just love this sport,” Maughan said.

James Krogue (left) and his brother Paul (right) watch a senior ladies practice session at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic

Paul Krogue and his wife Celia have been following their favorite skaters around the world, attending Junior Grand Prix events, the Junior World Championships and the Grand Prix Final on several occasions.

“We watched Mirai Nagasu and Ashley Wagner compete in Obersdorf, Germany at the 2007 World Junior Championships,” Krougue said. “Then we got to see them win U.S. titles. It’s fun to see them go so far and do so well.”

Though Celia did not make the trip from Blackfoot, Idaho, Paul is attending the event with his brother James of Seattle, who is experiencing a first figure skating competition for the first time.

“At my first competition, all of the junior skaters were watching the senior events with their parents,” Paul Krogue said. “We got to meet them and everyone was so nice. I expect this event will provide the same for James. We’re very excited to be here.”

Competition begins today and all events will stream live on icenetwork.com.

2012 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic competition notes
Icenetwork.com event page – 2012 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic
Icenetwork.com event page – 2012 U.S. Novice & Junior Challenge Skate
Icenetwork.com live streaming schedule

Senior skaters head to Salt Lake City to kick off the 2012 international season

10 Sep


Canadians, Americans among favorites at 2012 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic

By Mimi Whetstone

The senior international season begins this week with the inaugural U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in Salt Lake City, Sept. 12-16. More than 65 skaters representing 23 countries are expected to compete, including reigning Canadian champion Amelie Lacoste and two-time U.S. bronze medalist Ross Miner. The U.S. International Figure Skating Classic will be held in conjunction with the U.S. Challenge Skate, a U.S. Figure Skating invitational competition for intermediate, novice and junior athletes who have competed at the national level. Both events will stream live on icenetwork.com.

Ladies

Reigning U.S. junior champion Gracie Gold, who won the silver medal at the 2012 World Junior Championships, will begin her first full senior season. Gold captured the gold at JGP Estonia last year with a personal-best score of 172.69 points. Challenging Gold will be Lacoste of Canada, who competed at the World Championships in both 2011 and 2012. Also competing for medals are Elena Glebova of Estonia, who won silver at 2011 Finlandia Trophy, reigning U.S. bronze medalist Agnes Zawadzki and Clara Peters, the first skater to represent Ireland at an ISU event. Peters earned a personal-best score of 55.90 for her free skate at the 2012 World Championships, where she placed 11th.

Men

Battling for the top podium spot in the men’s event will be two-time reigning U.S. bronze medalist Ross Miner, who earned a personal-best score of 223.23 points at the 2012 Four Continents Championships, where he placed third and fellow American Armin Mahbanoozadeh, who earned a career best placement of fourth at the 2012 U.S. Championships. Also competing are Liam Firus of Canada, who finished in eighth place at the 2012 World Junior Championships with a personal-best score of 189.06, and Christopher Caluza of the Philippines, who represented the United States until December, 2011. Caluza competed for the Philippines at the 2012 World Championships and earned a personal-best score of 184.10 points.

Pairs

Looking to win the pairs event are 2011 Canadian champions Kristen Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, who earned two bronze medals in the 2011 Grand Prix series at Cup of China and Hilton HHonors Skate America in Ontario, Calif. Another team of Canadians, Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers, will fight for the title after earning the bronze medal, ahead of Moore-Towers and Moscovich at the 2012 Four Continents Championships. Danielle Montalbano and Evgeni Krasnopolski of Israel will also make a run for the medals after winning bronze at 2011 Golden Spin in Zagreb, Croatia. The new U.S. team of Lindsay Davis and Mark Ladwig will make their competitive debut in Salt Lake City. Davis is the 2010 U.S. junior bronze medalist, while Ladwig is a two-time U.S. silver medalist (2010-11) and 2010 Olympian with former partner Amanda Evora. Joining Davis and Ladwig on Team USA are Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin, who earned a personal-best score of 155.42 points at 2011 Hilton HHonors Skate America, where they placed sixth.

Ice Dancing

Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates will try to capture ice dancing gold after earning bronze at 2011 Finlandia Trophy, their first international competition as a team. Chock and Bates missed the podium by one spot at 2011 Skate Canada and placed fifth at their first U.S. Championships last January. Challenging Chock and Bates will be reigning Canadian bronze medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier and their Canadian teammates Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, who earned silver at the 2010 World Junior Championships. Ukrainians Siobhan Heekin-Canedy and Dmitri Dun, who earned bronze at 2011 Ice Challenge in Graz, Austria, will also compete for a medal. Joining Chock and Bates on Team USA are Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, who won the ice dancing title ahead of Heekin-Canedy and Dun at 2011 Ice Challenge and finished fourth at the 2012 U.S. Championships.

Click here to view the full list of competitors

2012 Challenge Skate Q and A with Kelly Vogtner

15 Aug

U.S. Figure Skating’s Senior Director of Athlete Development talks particulars, participation

By Mimi Whetstone

U.S. Figure Skating will host its first senior international competition, the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, in Salt Lake City, Sept.12-16. In conjunction with the senior events, U.S. Figure Skating’s Athlete Development Committee (ADC) will host the inaugural U.S. Challenge Skate, a developmental competition featuring athletes selected by the ADC to compete at the novice and junior levels.

With more than 58 participants already expected to compete, Kelly Vogtner, U.S. Figure Skating’s Senior Director of Athlete Development, took a moment to explain the details of this first-of-its-kind event:

What is U.S. Challenge Skate?

“U.S. Challenge Skate is an event we developed specifically for promising young athletes who are not officially named to Team USA. We want to provide an opportunity for athletes that have competed at the national level in intermediate, novice and junior to experience what an international competition is like. At the same time, they will have the opportunity to compete with other talented athletes from across the country.”

Who can compete at this event?

“Athletes were selected by the ADC, in cooperation with the International Committee, based on a set list of criteria. For the junior events, skaters who competed at the junior level at the 2012 U.S. Championships and had not been assigned a Junior Grand Prix (JGP) event as of August 1 were invited. Additionally, skaters who competed in the novice event at the 2012 U.S. Championships and recently moved up to the junior level were invited to participate.

For the novice events, we invited skaters who competed at the novice level at the 2012 U.S. Championships who are choosing to repeat the novice events in 2013. We also extended an invitation to athletes that placed in the top 18 at the intermediate level at the 2012 U.S. Junior Championships and are moving up to the novice level for the 2013 season.

For new partnerships in ice dancing and pairs, couples where at least one of the partners competed at the 2012 U.S. Championships at the respective level were eligible for an invitation.

Once the athletes were invited, entries were accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Our goal was to include everyone, but obviously, we are limited as to the number of skaters we can accommodate in a single event.”

Why first-come, first-served?

“This competition is new, so not a lot of people know what it is about. It’s going to be a great experience for those who choose to participate. We thought that the ones who wanted the experience the most would ultimately get the most out of it.”

What kind of experience can these athletes expect?

“Competitors at this event are going to experience everything they will eventually encounter at a JGP or other international competition on Team USA. They will be judged by an international panel, be given team jackets, receive their scores in a kiss-and-cry area and even participate in media training.”

Why hold the U.S. Ice Challenge and U.S. International Figure Skating Classic simultaneously?

“By holding U.S. Challenge Skate in conjunction with the Senior B event, we are increasing the international experience for the young, Team USA hopefuls. They will get to feel what it is like to compete among the world’s best at multiple levels. Their practice ice and competition schedule will be structured in the same manner and they will be judged by the same panels. Plus, all of the competitors will get to embrace the true Team USA spirit by cheering on their fellow teammates throughout the week.”

What are some of the other benefits of this unique event?

“In addition to simply being a competition, it will be a fun learning experience. Each discipline will have its own team leader and there will be a team atmosphere, with time set aside to watch the senior international events. Educational meetings, seminars and discussions will also be held for athletes and parents throughout the competition.”

Who are the team leaders going to be?

“The team leader for the men’s event is Ben Miller. Ben lives in the Minneapolis area and is the chair of the ADC, and a former international competitor in men’s singles.

The ladies will be led by Ann Barr. Ann lives in the Detroit metropolitan area and is chair of U.S. Figure Skating’s Singles Development Subcommittee, a subcommittee of the ADC. She is a national technical specialist, and has served on the panels of Regional, Sectional and U.S. Championships.

The team leader for the pairs event will be Amanda Evora. Amanda resides in Ellenton, Fla. and retired from competition last season. With partner Mark Ladwig, she represented the U.S. in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in addition to the 2010 and 2011 World Championships.

The ice dancers will be led by Pilar Bosley. Pilar lives in Maryland, and is the national vice-chair for dance on U.S. Figure Skating’s Athlete Advisory Committee. She is a former international competitor in dance with partner John Corona.

In addition to the team leaders, U.S. Figure Skating Headquarters Athlete Development Coordinator, Kelli Evers, will be on site to facilitate the program and provide assistance and support to team leaders, athletes, coaches and parents.”

Anything else we should know?

“We’re hoping that the debut of this event will advertise itself for the future. We have so many talented young skaters right now and we really want to give them a valuable experience.”

Click here to view U.S. Figure Skating’s press release.

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