Ice Network

Weinstein, Simon take slim lead in junior pairs

Weinberg, Fernandez close behind in second; Bergdolt, Addison third
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Winners of the pewter medal at this event last year, Lindsay Weinstein and Jacob Simon skated a mistake-free routine that included a clean throw triple salchow. The duo leads the field with a score of 49.54 points. -Jay Adeff

It looks like a Colorado-Florida showdown in junior pairs at the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, with just 0.74 points separating teams from the pairs centers in Colorado Springs and Ellenton.

Lindsay Weinstein and Jacob Simon, who train at the World Arena under Dalilah Sappenfield and Drew Meekins, edged in front with a dramatic, near-clean program to Maxime Rodriguez's "Eleonore," highlighted by a big throw triple salchow as well as a flowing step sequence done in good unison. They earned 49.54 points.

"The main goal was (to show) projection and emotion, and that's what we did," Simon said. "We took it one element at a time, and we're happy with our performance."

"We had a little mishap on the pair spin at the end, so we lost about two points," Sappenfield said. "I thought everything else they did really well. We've been working on the maturity and unison of their skating, and I thought that showed."

The skaters, who finished fourth in juniors last season, moved to Colorado Springs to train in Sappenfield's group in June 2015. Asked how they like it there, they replied, in unison, "We love it."

"The altitude is difficult, but it's good for our training," Simon said.

"It's very motivating; when we were in Chicago, we were the only pairs team, so we had nobody to motivate us," Weinstein said. "But when we train with Alexa [Scimeca] and Chris [Knierim], they're always on -- they always motivate us. So, we try to be like them and skate as fast as them."

Joy Weinberg and Maximiliano Fernandez showed attitude to spare in their intense short to a medley of "Hernando's Hideaway" and "La Cumparsita."

The pair opened with a triple twist and hit a fine throw triple salchow, but Fernandez stumbled on a double flip. Still, their 48.80 points has them in the hunt for gold.

"I have Latin in me and it comes out when I can give it, and I give it in this program," Fernandez said of the routine, choreographed by their coach, Jim Peterson. "Joy does an awesome job with it as well."

"I think we did a pretty good job. There were some little things we could definitely have improved upon," Weinberg said. "I think, for our first time together skating at nationals, we definitely put out a decent program."

The pair teamed up on Mother's Day last year, after splitting from their previous partners following the 2015 U.S. Championships.

Weinberg was very complimentary of Peterson and Amanda Evora's system and has no regrest about moving to Ellenton.

"(It's) the best decision I've ever made. The training facility and the coaches are amazing," She said. "Plus, I'm here on my own, and I like the independence."

Kay Bergdolt and Miles Addison, who train in Boxborough, Massachusetts, under Bobby Martin and Carrie Wall, skated an entertaining routine to "Dueling Banjos," highlighted by a fine back-loop press lift and one of the best back-outside death spirals of the event. They sit third with 46.29 points.

"This was their best short of the season," Wall said. "They added a Level 4 lift, and we're really psyched for that."

Bergdolt and Addison competed in novice pairs at the 2011 U.S. Championships, placing seventh. The North Carolina natives re-teamed in May 2014 and placed eighth in junior pairs last season.

"They stopped skating for a little while together; Miles decided to hang up his skates and try football, and Kay skated singles on her own," Wall said. "When Kay decided to move up to Boston to go to Boston College, she asked Miles whether he would like to skate pairs again. It was the perfect fit for them to move up north to us."

Madeleine Gallagher and Justin Highgate-Brutman, who train in the Detroit area under Craig Joeright and Brooke Castile, are fourth with 45.58 points. Their short to the lyrical "Falling Slowly" included the only Level 3 death spiral of the event.