Ice Network

Carreira, Ponomarenko step up to junior dance gold

Greens grab silver; Mid-season coaching change pays off for Lewis, Bye
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Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko captured a medal for the third year in a row in this event -- and time this, the color of it was gold. The world junior bronze medalists took the title with 159.18 points, 90.48 of which came for their free dance to music from the 'W.E.' soundtrack. -Jay Adeff

Marina Klimova won a full set of Olympic ice dance medals -- gold, silver and bronze -- skating with her husband, Sergei Ponomarenko. But nothing makes her stomach do nip-ups like watching their son, Anthony, and his partner, Christina Carreira, compete.

"The worst position was when I was coaching him, standing by the boards," said Klimova, who coaches in the San Jose area. "I remember my heart rate was (beating) faster and faster every minute."

"To be a mom, sitting in the stands, is still hard," she continued. "It's a very special nationals, because it is Anthony's hometown. We have a lot of friends and family and support."

Klimova can breathe a sigh of relief. Carreira and Ponomarenko, the reigning world junior bronze medalists, were the class of the field Thursday, easily winning the free dance and the U.S. junior title with 143.21 points.

"It feels amazing," Ponomarenko said. "We made a goal seasons before this to get this gold medal, and we're really happy it finally paid off."

The Montreal-born Carreira, a former Canadian competitor, teamed up with Ponomarenko in 2014. The skaters live in Novi, Michigan, where they train in Igor Shpilband's group.

"The ice dance field is really deep in America, but I'm so happy to skate for this country," Carreira said.

Last season's silver medalists stepped up to gold with a powerful yet sensitive performance to romantic selections from the W.E. soundtrack that showed off their deep edges, superior flow and refined style. They earned four Level 4 elements from the technical panel and 90.48 points.

"I feel like we focused on having clean elements today, skating clean on the edges," Ponomarenko said. "The emotion was a bit off. There were some shaky things we need to patch up for junior worlds."

Siblings Caroline Green and Gordon Green, the two-time U.S. novice champions who placed fifth in this event last season, grabbed the silver medal with a polished, technically demanding free dance to Borodin's Polovtsian Dances. Each move was finished and secure, with the lifts, twizzles and spin gaining Level 4. They placed second in the free and finished with 146.72 points.

"I thought our twizzles were very strong today," Gordon said. "Our footwork went a lot more solid than it usually does, but unfortunately it was Level 2, not 3, so it's a little lower score."

The Greens, who began skating together in 2009, train at the Wheaton Ice Skating Academy (WISA) in Rockville, Maryland, where they are coached by Alexei Kiliakov, Elena Novak and Dmitri Ilin. WISA brought two senior teams, five junior teams and several novice, intermediate and juvenile teams to San Jose.

"We try to encourage the younger skaters," Caroline said. "They remind us of what we were like back then, looking up to the older skaters. We try to encourage them."

"It's interesting to look back to where we were a year ago, coming up in the junior ranks and just trying to show the judges what we could do," Gordon said. "Now, this year, we find ourselves one of the up-and-coming teams for the coming years."

Chloe Rose Lewis and Logan Bye, the 2013 novice champions who placed fourth in juniors last season, captured the bronze medal with lyrical program to music from Coeur de Pirate that capitalized on their strong on-ice connection. Highlights included a superb opening straight line lift, and they finished with 143.21 points.

"We were focused on our connection to each other and to the music, and we did a good job on that," Lewis said. "We got all of the levels we were hoping for, so we feel good about that, too."

Lewis and Bye, who teamed up in August 2010, made a coaching change in mid-season and now train in Canton, Michigan, under Marina Zoueva and Massimo Scali.

"We were trying to get a fresh start," Bye said. "Both Chloe and I felt we needed a jumpstart."

"We were a little bit stuck in our placement, and our passion was renewed when we made a change," Lewis said.

Eliana Gropman and Ian Somerville performed an energetic flamenco free dance marred slightly when both ice dancers fell on a transition move. They recovered with a fine rotational lift, and placed fourth with 138.90 points.