Liberty, er, Philadelphia Summer Champs 2014

Hey sk8fans, I just got my summer dose of ice by attending the nearby Philadelphia Summer Championships (PSC), held at IceWorks in Aston, PA from July 15-19.  They may have changed the name, but I will always think of this competition as “Liberty”!

The field of entrants this year was not quite as star-studded as in the past; other fans and I were speculating over the reasons. Obviously it’s a post-Olympic year, which may have led to skaters getting a bit of a late start on their new programs. There was no senior pairs’ event this year, again for obvious reasons: so many US pairs have broken up, switched countries, retired, or are injured that you need a scorecard to keep track 😦 . There was a junior pairs’ event, with one team competing in both the SP and FS and two other teams competing in one event each. However, out of those three teams, two were Canadian. Also, coaches and skaters pick their summer events by choosing those they consider well-run or close by. I can’t speak for the coaches/skaters, but I do know that last year, the extremely warm weather led to difficulties in keeping the ice frozen in some of the rinks at IceWorks, and that played havoc with the schedule….

Ashley Cain was at the PSC. She was on the roster to compete, but decided not to. I heard various reasons: she’s breaking in new boots, she has two GP events (Cup of China and Rostelcom) and Champs Camp coming up and needs a rest. It’s too bad she didn’t compete. Her SP this year is “Mission: Impossible” and FS is “Evita”. For more on Ashley Cain and this year’s PSC, read Lynn Rutherford’s Ice Network article .

There was again a large contingent of Canadian ladies at PSC, and Veronika Mallet won the FS with 94.74, followed by Maria Wang  (Washington FSC) and Roxanne Rheault (CAN). Franchesca Chiera (Panthers FSC, FL) won the SP, followed by Mallet and Rheault. Junior lady Rebecca Peng (SC of Boston) bested all female competitors with her winning Junior Ladies’ FS score of 104.78, followed by Brynne McIsaac and Elise Romola (both of Washington FSC).

The men’s field had a few more well-known names than the ladies’ event. Ross Miner, Jimmy Ma, and Alexander Aiken (who returned to competition after 18 months) all skated Senior Men. Miner kept his “The Way We Were” SP from last season; his new FS is to Andrea Boccelli’s “Romanza”, choreographed by Lori Nichol.  His Axels were not quite up to par, but he exhibited great flow, speed and musicality. He placed second in the SP and won the FS. Alexei Bychenko (ISR) won the SP and did not compete in the FS. The big men’s buzz at PSC was the Junior Men’s Champion Andrew Torgashev (Panthers FSC, FL). He won both the SP and FS by wide margins, and is only 13! His speed and flow was, as Unca Dick would say, first-rate. Keep an eye on this kid…

And, by the way, BOO-HISS to the referee at PSC 2014 for scheduling the Senior Men’s FS and Junior Men’s FS in different rinks at the same time! That hasn’t happened in the past several years, and I hope will not happen again.

Great to see some of the usual suspects: Gail, Andi, Margaret, Ann, Lisa, Delle, Carol. Missed you: Tonya, Teri and Elaine!

I will add a link to the Official Results page once IceWorks posts it.


2013 Liberty Summer Competition

I have the good fortune to live about twenty miles from IceWorks, the beautiful 4-rink complex owned by Uschi Keszler. IceWorks hosts the Liberty Summer Competition each year. There’s nowhere better to be in 100-degree weather than an ice rink!! The East Coast heat wave caused some problems at Liberty, though–it was so hot that it was a full-time job keeping the ice sheets frozen. Some events were moved from their originally assigned rink to other rinks in the complex because the ice was too wet. This caused some scheduling difficulties, especially early in the competition when all of the different event levels were going on.

I met some really nice people and enjoyed seeing some early-season skating…

I’m not going to rehash all of the results. The full protocols for the event can be found at the IceWorks site.


The Senior Ladies’ field was HUGE. There were 41 competitors registered, and most of them competed. I’m still chuckling over a comment that a woman behind me made; when the door opened yet again to let yet another warmup group of ladies on the ice, she said “It’s like a clown car!” Now, any of you who know me know how much I love skating, but sitting through almost 40 short programs can be numbing to both the mind and the behind (even though both the short and long were split into two segments bracketing the senior men). Since Liberty competes the short program and long program as separate events, that meant that virtually all of the girls/women that competed in the short competed the long as well. I must confess, I wasn’t feeling great on Saturday, so I left after the senior men’s long program and missed the second half of the ladies’.

Samantha Cesario was the star of the ladies’ short. She did a 3Lo+3Lo in both her short and long; according to the protocols, she was short of rotation on the second loop in the SP and both jumps in the FS.  In her short, she also had a 3F and a 2A. She gave a mature, sexy performance to “Fever”.

Skate Canada sent a large contingent of pretty good ladies to this event. Remember the days when Canadian ladies couldn’t buy a triple? Well, there were lots of ladies at Liberty who had plenty of them–there weren’t a lot of Lutzes in the event, but I was impressed by the overall quality of the Canadian skaters. Canadian Veronik Mallet was second in both the short and free, and American Yasmin Siraj was third in both segments as well.

Ashley Cain had a rough go in the short program and finished fourth, but she skated a strong early-season free skate to win the event with 102.78. She landed a 3Lz+2T, turned out between jumps in her 3F+2T combo, and landed solo 3F and 3Lo among other elements. She skated in white to “Ave Maria”. She is tall for a female skater and quite statuesque, and takes advantage of her height with good positions and stretch.

Samantha Cesario and Ashley Cain swapped first and fourth places from the short to the free. Cesario’s opening combo in the free was good (although the protocol shows she was docked for underrotation on both jumps), but she had trouble from there. Her music was “Titanic”, which I have always thought is beautiful music. But I wonder if it’s a good choice for a figure skating program, since it involves a large object colliding with  ice and sinking 🙂 . My new friend A., who has been attending skating competitions for a long time, said she thought that Cesario was laying it all out there in an effort to snag one of the at-large Grand Prix assignments still out there.


There were ten men in the senior men’s event. Keegan Messing and Stephen Carriere were the US National competitors scheduled to compete, but Carriere withdrew. Messing is keeping last year’s short program to “Sing, Sing, Sing”, and has a new free skate to “Mask of Zorro”. Boy, does he bomb around the ice faster than almost any other skater I’ve seen. He finished second in both the short and free to Luiz Manela, who skates for Brazil. In the short program, Manela landed his 3A, while Messing popped his into a single (which meant no credit for the Axel element, since the requirement is for at least a double). Evidently Keegan was having boot problems last season, which are hopefully now resolved but may have led to a loss of confidence in that forward outside edge takeoff. Messing’s spins are also noteworthy–really fast and well-centered, a pleasure to watch for this fan of spins!

Manela skated his free skate to “Gladiator”. He fell on his 3A, and the rest of his skate was far from perfect, but Messing doubled too many of his jumps to overtake the Brazilian skater. Keegan did land a 4T+2T, but popped the Axel and doubled the toe, loop, and Lutz. Alex Zahradnicek (who skates for France) was third in both the SP and FS. Emmanuel Savery skated well in the FP to take fourth in that segment (he has no 3A, though).


Disappointingly, there were only two pairs in the field; I believe both may be new pairings? Natalja Zabijako / Aleksandr Zaboev of Estonia won both segments of the competition, with Israel’s (well, skating for Israel anyway 🙂 )
Anya Davidovich / Evgeni Krasnopolsky taking second. I love pairs, and it was disappointing that this year’s and last year’s fields were so small. In 2011, Dalilah Sappenfield brought several of her pairs to compete as Caydee Denney / John Coughlin made their debut. Rumor has it that a lot of the pairs are competing at Skate Detroit.

There were a number of skaters at Liberty who were skating for the Israeli Skating Federation, which I hear tell is run by Galit Chait (she who collided with Renee Roca at a 1994 US Nationals practice, resulting in Roca’s breaking her arm) and her father. Clearly these skaters had not flown all the way from Israel for Liberty! My quote of the week, from David Lease of The Skating Lesson, who by the way was very nice when I spoke with him: (About the Israeli Skating Federation) “I believe that the headquarters are somewhere between North Jersey, DC, and Philadelphia. And if you are a skater who is Jewish with an overly ambitious parent… and you have a cheated double Axel and a
double Lutz, you will one day skate for Israel.” (from Jennifer Kirk and David Lease’s “This and That 7/21”)

Recent skating tidbits!

Here we are in the off-season. Those of you who have followed skating for a long time know that lots can happen at this time of year: pairs/dance/coach-skater partnerships break up and reform; skaters work on their new programs for next season, with next season having just that much more import since it’s an Olympic year (yay!); and talk inevitably turns to the current sad state of figure skating (in the US, anyway).

Here are some notable skating happenings since Worlds:

1) The USA won the World Team Trophy in Japan. Patrick Chan expressed his indifference to this post-Worlds competition, and says that he favors skaters’ forming a union to prevent exploitation:

Patrick Chan favors figure skaters’ union

While I often think that Chan has skate-in-mouth disease, he raises some valid points.

I would ask: why did Chan feel that he was forced to compete in the WTT while Davis/White and Virtue/Moir were not (perhaps D/W is not a valid comparison, since they are under a different federation’s sway)? Does the WTT have greater import now that the Team event has been added to the Winter Olympics?

2) John Nicks has decided he no longer wants to travel, thereby leaving Ashley Wagner without a coach to travel with going into an Olympic year. She and her choreographer (Philip Mills) have parted ways as well. What’s going on here??

3) Skate America will be held in Detroit this fall (October 18-20). Boston will have the US’ bid to host Worlds in 2016. I am definitely rooting for Boston to get Worlds, since any time I can take Amtrak instead of flying is a good time 🙂 !!

4) New US pairs teams: Lindsay Davis (formerly of Davis/Ladwig) has teamed up with Rockne Brubaker; Becky Bereswell and Joshua Reagan (who just ended a partnership with Caitlin Yankowskas) have teamed up under the coaching of Jason Dungjen and Yuka Sato. I wish Caitlin could find a partner; she’s too good to waste on the sidelines. Like Reagan’s former partner Ashley Cain, Becky Bereswell is on the tall side for a skater (5’6″). Reagan is about six feet tall.

According to Reagan:

“Caitlin (Yankowskas) and I skated together for a year, and certain things worked, certain things didn’t,” Reagan said. “Johnny (Johns) kind of sat us down and said he didn’t think we were the right match for each other, and that was kind of it. It wasn’t a particular element, it was more overall training; we just weren’t right for each other.”

Yankowskas had no comment.
Ice Network article


Cain and Reagan split

16-year-old Ashley Cain and 22-year old Joshua Reagan have announced the end of their pairs partnership. They recently finished sixth in Senior Pairs at 2012 US Nationals after being Junior champions in 2011 and Novice champions in 2010. Both skaters say they intend to continue skating pairs, although when I first heard the news, I assumed it was because Ashley had decided to concentrate on singles; she placed second in US Junior Ladies in San Jose. Let’s just say it would not be a huge surprise if she did not seek another partner.

Cain and Reagan were a stunning on-ice couple. Cain is almost 5’6″ and Reagan is almost 6’2″. I enjoyed watching them skate in San Jose; they will be missed.

Ice Network article about Cain and Reagan’s breakup