Ice Network

Hom, Jerosch cap visit to San Jose with pairs title

Hubbart siblings earn silver; Wolfkostin, Zhao rise up to win dance crown
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Jade Hom and Franz-Peter Jerosch made quite the U.S. championships debut this week, capturing the novice title over several more experienced teams. The pair, who are coached by Bobby Martin and Carrie Wall in Boxborough, Massachusetts, secured 80.32 points for their 'Pocahontas' free skate, and they took the top spot overall with a competition total of 126.99. -Melanie Heaney

Jade Hom and Franz-Peter Jerosch captured the novice pairs title Tuesday night at the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, fighting through illness to stand atop the podium in their first season as a team.

"We both feel extremely excited," Jerosch chuckled. "This has been an amazing experience. It was definitely our best performance this season, and we are just thrilled."

Skating to music from Pocahontas, the duo performed the roles of heroine and John Smith with nothing short of conviction. Struggling with a cold over the last week, however, did not allow Hom to perform up to her own expectations.

"You have to listen to your body and treat it well," Hom offered. "When you're not feeling well and have to perform, you have to stay focused so that you can do your job."

Hom and Jerosch singled an intended throw double axel, and struggled with landings on the solo jumps, but still managed to win the free skate with 80.32 points. They finished with 126.99 points overall.

"I think she's extremely strong," Jerosch said of his partner. "I am very proud of everything she had to overcome tonight."

Moving up from seventh after the short program to win silver was the team of Joanna Hubbart and William Hubbart. The siblings were propelled by the strongest technical score of the evening, earning a total of 78.00 points in the free skate and 118.31 overall.

"We had to fight for our performance today," William explained. "We just didn't feel on, but we fought through it and put out a good performance."

The brother-and-sister duo skated to Muse's "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3," captivating the audience with celestial choreography that hit all the right crescendos. While their program included visually appealing program components, it was the execution of strong technical elements that took center stage.

"Our twist has improved so much, and our (throw double) loop felt good, " Joanna said. "It was nice to have the support of our club tonight in the audience. They do a lot for us, and it helped push us in our performance."

Finishing in third place was Masha Mokhova and Ivan Mokhov, another sibling duo who ended their hard-fought program with 72.94 points and 116.64 overall. Though they did not receive credit for their death spiral and struggled with a fall on a throw double salchow, the duo did enough to depart the competition with the bronze medal.

"Everything that is considered hard in our program we did well, but we stumbled on things that are easy for us," Mokhov admitted. "The death spiral is my easiest element and I never miss it. I don't know what happened."

Skating to "Chipolino" by Karen Khachaturian, the siblings finished fifth in the free skate, but were able to remain on the podium thanks to a second-place showing in the short program.

"We feel happy and excited," Mokhova said of earning a medal in these championships. "Last year we won intermediate, so it was nice to be able to get on the podium again."

Ellie McClellan and Jim Garbutt earned the pewter medal after picking up 113.84 points, while Hilary Asher and Nathaniel Dennler landed fifth with 112.84 points.

Wolfkostin, Zhao impose their will in novice free dance

It may not have won an Oscar for best motion picture, but the soundtrack to La La Land has received boatloads of love this week at the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. And on Tuesday in San Jose, it was Katarina Wolfkostin and Howard Zhao who used the music to propel themselves to the novice ice dance title.

"The music was so well integrated into the movie, and we wanted to do that with our program," Zhao explained. "The program is based loosely on the characters in the movie, but we added our own style to it."

"We were inspired by the tap and jazz pieces of music," Wolfkostin added. "The sassy jazz and love story really spoke to us."

Second after the pattern dances, the gold medalists dominated the free dance, earning positive Grades of Execution for each one of their elements, with all but one -- their circular step sequence -- receiving Level 4 grading.

"We were really together tonight, and skated with a lot of unison," Zhao said. "Our coaches really helped us get better throughout the season, and they pushed us beyond our limits."

The champions earned 73.54 points for their free dance, and finished with a career-best 122.41 overall.

Slipping from first place after the pattern dances to finish second in the final standings was Gianna Buckley and Jeffrey Chen. The silver medalists managed only the fifth-best free dance of the night, but were still able to stave off the bronze medalists -- albeit by a slim margin. They earned 64.63 points in the segment and 116.77 in total.

"Overall, it was alright, but it definitely wasn't our best," Buckley lamented after the competition. "We got a bit far apart on our twizzles, and I tried to catch up and it caused us to lose levels."

Buckley and Chen earned a Level 1 for the flawed twizzles, and their midline no touch step sequence earned the same fate. Despite the disappointments, the duo performed beautifully in their My Sweet and Tender Beast program, earning high praise for their program component scores.

"Earning a medal here means that all our hard work means something," Chen said.

Caroline Liu and Kenan Slevira captured bronze with the second-best free dance of the night, which was set to music from Cirque du Soleil. Like the champions, the couple earned positive GOEs on each element, but only managed Level 4 grading on half of their executed elements.

"There was definitely room for improvement," Slevira admitted. "For example, the twizzles could have been better, but overall, it was one of our best performances."

Liu, who is in the first year of her partnership with Slevira, was a bit less analytical.

"It was equally exciting and stressful," she proclaimed after the competition. "This was our first nationals as a team, and my first in ice dance, and I am really proud of what we accomplished."

They earned 67.49 points in the free dance and 115.56 overall.

Winning the pewter medal for the second consecutive year at this event was Elizabeth Tkachenko and Alexei Kiliakov, who ended with 112.95 points. Oona Brown and Gage Brown secured fifth place with 106.48 points.