Ice Network

Carreira, Ponomarenko shine in junior short dance

Green siblings overcome sickness to take second; Lewis, Bye sit third
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Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko took control of the junior dance event, registering 68.70 points in the short to take a sizable lead over the field. -Melanie Heaney

Reigning junior silver medalists Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko emerged as the undisputed leaders after the short dance at the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

The skaters were on fire in their Cha Cha Congelado/samba fusion program Wednesday afternoon, showing how they've grown into engaging performers.

"Our short dance is character based, and is meant to show off our crazy personalities," Ponomarenko said. "We really work hard to show the emotion of the performance, and today felt like we were successful at doing that."

Carreira and Ponomarenko displayed technical and artistic mastery in their Pussycat Dolls/Gloria Estefan medley program.

"I think that we were really careful about making sure that we took care of the technical elements," Carreira said. "But, today, we also allowed ourselves to get lost in the performance."

Originally from nearby Morgan Hill, California, Ponomarenko is feeling right at home this week. With his parents (and Olympic gold medalists) Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko as well as his brother in the audience, it was an extra special experience for him and his partner.

"There were a bunch of people from the rink here to watch," Ponomarenko noted. "The guy who drives the Zamboni ran up and gave me a hug when he saw me. It's really nice to compete here, but it does come with some pressure to perform well."

The leaders earned Level 4's on all but the circular step sequence, and inspired component scores ranging from 8.04 to 8.43. Their total for the short dance was 68.70 points, and they take a comfortable five-point cushion into Thursday's free dance.

Finishing second were Caroline Green and Gordon Green, who had a difficult morning that put their participation in the competition in question.

"When I woke up, I was really nauseous and I was throwing up," Caroline revealed. "I spoke with some doctors and ended up going to the hospital, where I got an IV and took some medications to help me feel better. I came straight from the hospital to the rink, and I am feeling better now."

Gordon added, "It was nerve-wracking. We were not sure if we would be able to compete, but when we decided to go for it, I knew that it was up to me to be more supportive than usual so that she felt comfortable."

The Greens were solid if not a bit tentative in their Latin medley short dance, completing each element cleanly but receiving lower-than-normal levels for their performance.

"I think maybe I bobbled the first set of twizzles," Gordon speculated. "Maybe that's why we got a Level 3. But, overall, our performance was as good as it could be."

The siblings finished with 63.14 points.

After making a sudden coaching change in mid-October, Chloe Lewis and Logan Bye looked more polished and confident under the tutelage of Marina Zoueva and company. The duo finished the short dance in third place with 62.14 points.

"Ever since the move, we have been working on different aspects of our skating," Lewis acknowledged. "Our team has helped us grow confidence in ourselves and in our skating."

Zoueva echoed Lewis' words.

"Chloe and Logan have great skating skills and ability. They generally just needed to feel who they are as skaters and performers," the noted coach said. Of course, we made some small changes to their programs and worked on the intricate details, but it was important to help them feel who they really are -- great skaters."

Skating to music by Jennifer Lopez, Lewis and Bye performed with grit and newfound determination. They earned Level 4's on their twizzles, curve lift and one of their Cha Cha Congelado patterns.

"We're happy with our score; it's our personal best," Bye said. "I think that we can attribute that to what we do every day in training. Our coaches see something, and we are able to make the change. It feels like we've done these programs a million times, so they are easy to do."

Eliana Gropman and Ian Somerville are in fourth place with 61.13 points, while training mates Emma Gunter and Caleb Wein are in fifth with 56.31.