Ice Network

The Inside Edge: Dance duo aims for mature look

McNamara, Carpenter putting own unique spin on popular 'Carmen'
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U.S. junior champions Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter enjoyed a fine showing at the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships, earning the highest short dance score of any team in the competition. -Melanie Hoyt

Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter, the 2015 U.S. junior dance champions, posted high scores at the recent Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships. The world junior silver medalists debuted a new short dance to Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King," receiving 60.03 points for their performance, the highest score of any team -- junior and senior -- at the event. Their Carmen free dance scored 87.28 points to top the juniors.

"It was our first time doing the (new) free in a non-local competition," McNamara said. "It was really exciting to show our programs to everybody. Of course, there are still things to work on, but we're happy this early in the game."

"We felt like [our free dance] was received pretty well; both programs were," Carpenter said.

As is usual for the team, both programs were choreographed by coaches Elena Novak and Alexei Kiliakov, who are aiming to create a more mature look with the new free dance. While it's no secret that Carmen has been a popular piece over the years, Carpenter says that their music cuts aren't the ones typically used from the piece.

"We don't use the 'Habanera' -- it will have a little bit of a different tone," he said. "I play Don José, not the toreador."

McNamara, of course, will be Carmen.

"One of our favorite parts of skating is the performance aspect," McNamara said. "This has such strong character, such strong attitude. I really enjoy projecting that attitude and character."

"The closer you get to senior, the more maturity you need to have," Carpenter said. "It will be maybe a little bit of a stretch, but in a good way."

The young dancers -- McNamara is 16, Carpenter 19 -- will stay in the junior ranks this season. They are looking forward to another season on the Junior Grand Prix (JGP).

"We're still pretty young, so we have time," McNamara said. "The jump from junior to senior is the biggest jump you can make in skating. We have time to grow and develop as juniors, so we can get as much experience as possible before making that jump."

Both skaters got little time off after their world junior medal last winter.

"The week after junior worlds, two of my brothers and my parents were able to travel to Italy for a week, to Rome," said McNamara, who is the youngest of her six siblings. "We saw the Coliseum, and that was my favorite thing, because it's such a big arena -- it's bigger than any arena we've ever been in. That was really cool."

"Immediately after junior worlds, I just came home," Carpenter said. "It had been a long season and I was really eager to get back to my family. Around Easter, we took a short trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, to a resort for some family time. It was really great to spend time with my sister and my mom and my dad."

Carpenter is going to college part time at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland. He hopes to transfer to the University of Maryland someday, after he's through with competitive skating.

"I want to major in mechanical engineering," he said. "I love that kind of problem solving."

McNamara will be a junior in the fall at the Connelly School of the Holy Child, a Catholic prep school for girls. She confesses to a passion for the music of the '50s and '60s, particularly Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

"I saw Jersey Boys on Broadway," she said with enthusiasm. "It was amazing. I really enjoy theater and Broadway."

Carpenter's tastes are more eclectic, ranging from electronic to folk music. Although his ancestry is not Irish like McNamara's, he too says he loves Irish music.

"I used to play the Irish fiddle a lot," he said. "I used to be in a band."

There won't be much time for fiddling in their busy upcoming season.

"We'd like to show that we're on top of everything," Carpenter said. "We want to focus on the performance, skating lights out. That's what it's really all about. Of course, we want to win, but that's not what we want to focus on. It's about enjoying yourself and the competition."

'Skate for Hope' expands

The long-running benefit show Skate for Hope has raised $560,000 for breast cancer research. This year, founder Carolyn Bongirno has expanded the show's mission to support all forms of cancer research, and taken the show on the road.

"The Aug. 29 show will be very special, as it is the first Skate for Hope outside of Ohio," Bongirno said. "We are thrilled to expand to Florida."

The cast members at the Estero, Florida, show will include Ashley Wagner, Max Aaron, Adam Rippon, Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, Emily Hughes, Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea, and Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.

Ticket information is available here.

Navarro engaged

Two-time U.S. bronze medal ice dancer Kim Navarro is engaged to longtime boyfriend Mark Freeman. The two have been dating for more than 10 years and plan to have an informal wedding in May in Sun Valley, Idaho.

"He works at a winery in Los Gatos, California," Navarro said. "I met him a long time ago through mutual friends."

Navarro said the two plan an "anniversary" party instead of a traditional wedding.

"One of the activities at the party will be getting married," Navarro said. "My last birthday, I realized I'm getting older every year, and the next chapter is ahead of us. Traditional wedding things won't be a part of our experience."

Before joining Nancy Kerrigan's Halloween on Ice in the fall, Navarro and her partner, Brent Bommentre, will partake in the Sun Valley ice show for the sixth year.

"It's been really rewarding," she said. "The new choreographer, Stephanee Grosscup, is pouring her heart and soul into it."

Aside from skating, Navarro and Bommentre have started a podcast, "Megasequin."

"We find that there are a lot of really funny stories out there in the skating world, and people are willing to share them: bad travel days, costume mishaps," she said.

You can check the podcast out at megasequin.com.

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