Sjoberg, Peng earn titles at U.S. Challenge SkateKnoop, Chinault pull up to win novice pairs
The first novice champions were crowned Friday at the 2013 U.S. Challenge Skate, as Eric Sjoberg, Rebecca Peng, and Grace Knoop and Noah Chinault took the men's, ladies and pairs titles, respectively.
In first place after the short program with 44.78 points, Sjoberg executed a solid performance to music from the Snow White and the Huntsman soundtrack. His program included five triple jumps, including a triple flip-double toe-double loop jump series, which earned a program-high 8.63 points.
"It felt really good out there," Sjoberg said. "I was definitely tired, but it was great to get the flips and Lutzes out there for the first time. I feel like I've been training really hard, so it's nice to feel like it's paying off."
Sjoberg finished the week with a combined score of 139.69 points, besting his previous personal best by an impressive 14 points. The silver medal went to Harrison Wong with 126.94, while the bronze went to Luke West with 125.88 points.
Taking the ice next were the novice ladies, led by Peng, who held a nearly four-point lead heading into the free skate. Her program, set to music from Ladies in Lavender, earned an impressive 70.32 points, despite a series of missteps at the end of the performance.
"I felt really good at the beginning, and I nailed all of my jumps," Peng said. "After my footwork, I tripped and lost my concentration. Then I fell on my last jump. I think the trip just shocked me, and I couldn't get my focus back until the last spin."
Peng's opening jump, a triple loop, received positive grades of execution across the board, and she topped the field in both her technical elements and program components scores. She paced the field with a combined score of 133.06 points, followed by Paige Rydberg with 107.40 and Emmy Ma, who earned 99.77 points.
In the novice pairs event, Grace Knoop and Noah Chinault skated away with 95.64 points and the gold medal. In second place after the short program, Knoop and Chinault earned 65.41 points for their Mary Poppins-themed free skate, which included a throw triple Salchow and two Level 3 spins.
"It felt like our lifts and jumps were really strong today, but we need to work on our throws when we get home," Knoop said. "We feel pretty good, but we have a lot of room to improve."
"We want to work on our grades of execution, the levels on our elements and the execution, and our overall performance before sectionals," Chinault added.