Ice Network

Buckley, Chen separate themselves from pack

Training alongside Shibutanis has helped novice dance team gel quickly
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Gianna Buckley and Jeffrey Chen, who won silver at the 2018 Pacific Coast Sectional Championships, recorded 26.50 points for their Argentine Tango and an additional 25.64 for the quickstep, marks that were strong enough to earn them first place. -Jay Adeff

Gianna Buckley (Seattle SC) and Jeffrey Chen (Peninsula SC) continue to enjoy a dream debut season after teaming up in May 2017. Winners of the 2017 Novice and Junior Challenge Skate in September, and silver medalists at the 2018 Pacific Coast Sectional Championships, the team delivered two solid pattern dances at the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and they will head into the free dance in first place.

"We really just wanted to give it our all and show how much we've been working in practice," said Chen, the younger brother of 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen.

Buckley and Chen have learned from some of the best: They share training ice with two-time U.S. champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani in Canton, Michigan. Coached by Marina Zoueva and Massimo Scali, Buckley and Chen displayed their long extensions and unison Monday night to earn 52.14 points for their Argentine Tango and Quickstep dances.

"It felt pretty close to what we've been doing in practice, so we're pretty happy about that," Buckley said.

Just 0.80 points separate the teams sitting second through fourth in the standings.

Katarina Wolfkostin (Peninsula SC) and Howard Zhao (Detroit SC) sit in second place after scoring 48.87 total points, while Elizabeth Tkachenko and Alexei Kiliakov (Washington FSC) are third with 48.10.

Caroline Liu (Hickory Hill FSC) and Kenan Slevira (All Year FSC) finished in fourth place with 48.07 points.