Ice Network

Glenn impresses in Detroit, but skater not satisfied

Taking advice of Ward, 14-year-old uses 'fierce' attitude in programs
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Amber Glenn, who won Skate Detroit's senior ladies event, stands with her coaches. -Lynn Rutherford

Spectators cheered, judges punched up good numbers, and U.S. Figure Skating officials sported approving smiles. Still, Amber Glenn wasn't satisfied with the 112.50-point free skate that lifted her to victory at Skate Detroit last weekend.

"I just didn't sell it as much as I wanted to," she said. "I'm mad at myself. I didn't get my second Lutz, but that's not all of it. I'm trying to let go and skate free, and, even if I make a mistake, not let it affect the performance."

Glenn's miss on her second-half Lutz -- she seemed to skid on the take-off -- didn't tarnish the impact of her brilliant opening, or the six triples she hit in her flamenco free skate, choreographed by Rohene Ward.

The reigning U.S. junior champion began with a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, followed by a split jump into a triple Salchow. A second difficult combination -- triple flip-triple toe-double toe -- ramped up her score, and her 173.63-point total bested a strong senior ladies field by more than nine points.

But Glenn, still just 14, hopes to do a lot more.

"I want to entertain the audience and judges," she said. "I really want to improve as a performer."

The Texas blonde is known for her powerful jumps, and her relatively statuesque height (5'5" or so) helps lend her skating maturity. She will need all of her jumps, plus as much brio as she can muster, to compete with world junior bronze medalist Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia at the Junior Grand Prix in Courchevel, France, next month.

Glenn and her coaches, Ann Brumbaugh and Ben Shroats, think that working with the charismatic Ward -- the former U.S. competitor behind Jason Brown's renowned Riverdance program -- will make her skating even more compelling.

Ward visits the skater's rink this week to add polish to both of her programs, including the florid circular step sequence in her free.

Glenn does a mean imitation of the Holiday on Ice showman, who is building quite a choreography career: "Rohene is going to tell me, 'Girl, you be fierce!'" she said, wagging a finger and putting a hand on a hip.

While Ward handles the performance attitude, Brumbaugh and Shroats will focus on stamina so their skater can flourish in Courchevel's high altitude.

"[Skate Detroit] was a good start; it's the direction we want to go early in the season," Shroats said. "We're working up to peak at the end of the season -- not July."

Another U.S. up-and-comer, 17-year-old Hannah Miller, delivered an ambitious free to a medley of new age-like music, appropriately named "Illumination" and "Perseverance."

The petite skater showed good speed and tried two tough new combinations: triple flip-half loop-triple Salchow and double Axel-triple toe. She didn't quite succeed, as she fell on the triple toe and two-footed the landing of the triple Salchow.

She is encouraged by her 106.29-point score.

"The program is tough. There are new elements for me, and there are five jumps in the second half," Miller said. "I've got to keep training it."

Miller, who won Skate Milwaukee earlier this month, works with noted technical coach Alexander Ouriashev -- who trained U.S. champion Gracie Gold for several years -- as well as longtime coach Kirsten Miller-Zisholz, her paternal aunt.

Several top Canadian ladies competed at Skate Detroit. Alaine Chartrand, who trains in Ontario under a coaching team including Michelle Leigh, placed third overall after an exceptionally polished free skate to Dr. Zhivago. The 18-year-old attempted a triple Axel that was downgraded.  

"[Chartrand] works on the triple Axel every day in practice and in her run-throughs," Leigh said.

Agosto's steps help Razzano win men's event

Douglas Razzano had fleeting thoughts of competitive retirement after the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. But a stirring free skate -- including a lengthy standing ovation from the Boston crowd -- encouraged him to continue.

"After experiencing a moment like that, I realized you just can't get that kind of feeling anywhere else," said the 25-year-old Razzano, who trains in Scottsdale, Arizona, under Doug Ladret.

"I liked the momentum [Boston] gave me. I'm going to see where it takes me. I'm not skating to get any medals or [international] assignments -- I'm skating for myself."

Razzano and Ladret collaborated to create the skater's free to Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2," and the result is the most dramatic choreography of the skater's career. Olympic ice dance silver medalist Ben Agosto, who recently relocated to Ladret's rink, is working with Razzano on his step sequences.

In Detroit, Razzano fell on his first triple Axel and missed a quad toe loop but hit a triple Axel-double toe. The program had nifty transitions, including a spread eagle into a triple Salchow, and a step sequence culminating in a triple loop. It earned 153.82 points, and Razzano won the title with 203.95 points.

"I'm pleased with how I recovered from two major mistakes in the beginning; it shows how hard I've worked on this," Razzano said. "I feel like I've really improved as a performer since Boston. I'm more comfortable reaching out to a crowd."

Elladj Baldé, who electrified the crowd with a winning short program to James Brown hits, fell on the opening quad toe in his fiery flamenco free, choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo.

The Canadian went on to land a strong triple Axel, triple Lutz and several other triples, and delivered his step sequences with flair. His 199.75-point total put him second to Razzano.

"The flamenco lines and movements are very specific, and there is still a lot of work to do," said Baldé, who trains in Detroit under Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen. "Veronique Breen, the ballet coach at DSC, was a prima ballerina in Belgium and danced flamenco for seven years. I'm working a lot with her."

Another Canadian, Roman Sadovsky, was third with 196.30 points overall. The 15-year-old landed seven triples and showed superb spins in his free skate.

Reporter's notebook: This season, as he did in 2011-12, Tim Dolensky skates his short to music he composed himself, "Fantasia Cantando." Skate Detroit marked a major milestone for the 22-year-old from Georgia: He landed two triple Axels in his free to "Fantasia Cantando," the first in combination with a triple toe. His 192.33 points put him fourth overall ... Miller's choreographer, two-time world junior ice dance champion Daniil Barantsev, and wife Jennifer Wester welcomed their second child, son Devin, during Skate Detroit ... Glenn's mom, Cathlene, collaborated with Denyse Frey on Amber's elaborately beaded free skate dress.