Who to watch at Easterns

American Juliana Cannarozzo hopes to recapture her gold medal-winning form from 2006.
American Juliana Cannarozzo hopes to recapture her gold medal-winning form from 2006. (Getty Images)


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By Liz Leamy and Lynn Rutherford, special to
(11/13/2007) - Coaches, officials and skaters from across the East Coast have gathered at the Factory Ice House in Wake Forest, N.C., just north of Raleigh, for the 2008 Eastern Sectional Championships.

The top four finishers in each event receive coveted invitations to the 2008 U.S. Championships, to be held in January in St. Paul, M.N.

The senior ladies event is among the most hotly contested. Eight well-known contenders are fighting for the spots. Several received byes to the competition, including three skaters who represented the U.S. on this fall's Junior Grand Prix (JGP) circuit: Blake Rosenthal (SC of Wilmington), winner of the silver medal at Estonia JGP; Juliana Cannarozzo (SC of Boston); and Melissa Bulanhagui (University of Delaware FSC).

At this fall's senior international events, Taylor Firth (Jamestown SC) was seventh at The Finlandia Trophy , and Michelle Boulos (SC of Boston) took the silver medal at the Ondrej Nepela Memorial. 2007 Eastern Sectional champ Kylie Gleason (SC of Boston) also received a bye.

These six athletes will square off against Megan Williams-Stewart(University of Delaware FSC), who handily won South Atlantic Regionals and also took the silver medal at the Nebelhorn Trophy this September.

Williams-Stewart, who twice finished 10th at U.S. nationals, defeated 2004 European champion Julia Sebastyen and former German champion Annette Dyrt at Nebelhorn, partly thanks to a strong triple loop-double toe-double loop combination in her free program.

Katrina Hacker (Rye FSC), showing improved jumping technique since moving to Boston to train under Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson, won New England Regionals with an impressive 153.13 points, a whopping 30+ points over the field.

The senior men's field is also highly competitive.

Favorites include Shaun Rogers (University of Delaware FSC), who placed second at Nebelhorn, defeating 2007 European silver medalist Tomas Verner. Rogers -- who has a quadruple toe loop in his arsenal -- was second at South Atlantic Regionals, more than ten points behind the champion, Tommy Steenberg (SC of Northern Virginia). Steenberg was the 2006 JGP Romania and Czech Republic champion as well as the top qualifier for the 2006-2007 Junior Grand Prix Final, where he placed sixth.

Derrick Delmore (Washington FSC), at 28 (he turns 29 on December 12th) the elder statesman of the group, made a name for himself in the off-season as show skater in the musical "Cold as Ice" but decided to return for another competitive season. He placed fifth at Nebelhorn and will be vying for his 18th trip to U.S. nationals here.

Parker Pennington (Broadmoor SC), who won the silver medal at The Finlandia Trophy - defeating 2007 Skate Canada silver medalist Kevin van der Perren in the process - could also challenge for a spot on the podium.

Viktor Pfeifer, the former Austrian champ who moved to the U.S. in the summer of 2006, adds interest to the field. Under the guidance of Uschi Keszler, former coach of three-time world champion Elvis Stojko, Pfeifer hopes to compete internationally for the U.S. The skater, who has been unable to land a triple Axel in competition, was third at South Atlantics behind Steenberg and Rogers.

Smaller fields will contest the senior pairs and ice dance titles. Kaela Pflumm and Christopher Pottenger (University of Delaware and Dallas FSC), who represented the U.S. on the JGP this fall, are favorites for the pairs title. Clare Farrell and Charles Fishpaw (St. Louis and University of Delaware FSC) should do well in dance.

Some Notable Juniors

Due to her participation in JGP pairs' events, Pflumm received a bye into the junior ladies event. The other junior ladies won invitations with good results at their regional competitions.

By far the high scorer among the junior ladies is Brittney Rizo (SC of Boston), who tallied 150.26 points in winning New England Regionals. She competed at the 2007 U.S. Championships in the junior ladies' division, where she placed 12th.

Rizo faces off against North Atlantics champion Anastasiya Kononenko (North Jersey FSC) and South Atlantics champion Masha Leonov (Tampa Bay SC).

Scott Dyer (Columbia FSC), who crushed his competition at South Atlantics by earning more than 158 points, heads the field of junior men.

Dyer, who placed fourth at the 2007 U.S. Championships in novice, will compete against Curran Oi (SC of Boston), the fourth-place junior finisher at the 2007 U.S. Championships. Oi represented the U.S. at the Estonia JGP this fall, placing sixth. His most impressive international result is a fifth place at the 2006-2007 Junior Grand Prix Final.

These two top contenders will be challenged by North Atlantics champ Daniel Raad (Southwest Florida FSC) and New England Regionals winner Schuyler Eldridge (SC of Boston).

Two sisters square off against each other in the dance event. Anastasia Cannuscio and Dean Copley (University of Delaware FSC) competed in two JGPs this fall. Her sister Isabella and partner Ian Lorello (University of Delaware FSC), who won a junior free dance event at the Lake Placid summer competition, were also on the JGP circuit.

Pilar Bosley and John Corona (Peninsula SC and Philadelphia SC), bronze medalists at the JGP Lake Placid, as well as 2007 U.S. novice dance silver medalists Sara Bailey and Kyle Herring (Charter Oaks and University of Delaware SC), are also strong contenders.

Reigning U.S. novice pair champs Tracy Tanovich and Michael Chau (Southwest Florida FSC), who are coached in Florida by a group headed by Kerry Leitch, look strong in junior pairs.

A Quick Glance at the Novice Field

This year, the novice entries are rich in depth and talent.

Eyes will be trained on the novice men's event, which will feature such standouts as Alexander Zahradnicek (Georgia FSC), who holds the highest total point score of any Eastern section novice regional single competitor this season; Vincent Ip (SC of New York), who captured the North Atlantic title with a final tally of 115.04; and Ross Miner (SC of Boston), a second-year novice who placed fifth at last year's Eastern Sectionals. (Miner elected not to compete at New England Regionals because there were four or fewer skaters at that event.) Alexander Aiken (Atlanta FSC), seventh in novice at the 2007 U.S. Championships, and Michael Chau, who is also competing in junior pairs, could also challenge.

The novice ladies should also be interesting, especially since the regional total point scores of so many of the skaters are so close. Among the favorites are Gretchen Donlan (SC of Boston), who took New England Regionals with a total point score of 106.62; Kelsey Rowley (University of Delaware) who earned top honors at South Atlantics with a total point score of 106.50; Kelsey Traunero (Greenville FSC) who was second at South Atlantics with a point tally of 103.01; and Felicia Zhang (SC NY), who won North Atlantics with 101.85 points.

The novice pairs division has only five entries. Still, it should be a rock-solid event.

Finally, there are 11 entries in the novice dance category, most of whom are former junior national or national competitors. It should be a high-intensity showdown, to say the least.

Article includes information compiled by Sylvia Yu