Sporty field at Pacific Coast Sectionals
|With Doug Razzano's silver in Sheffield, the U.S. won at least one medal at each JGP stop. (Paul Tortland)|
"I'm probably skating the best I have in my entire career," said an optimistic Villarreal. "I've made changes to my toe jump technique, and I have started to become very consistent."Villarreal will have to contend with Nicholas LaRoche, winner of a silver medal at the 2007 Ondrej Nepela Memorial. LaRoche defeated Villarreal at a club competition earlier this month, but LaRoche will need to harness his power and control his jumps to continue that success. Still, both LaRoche and Villarreal, should easily advance to the national competition. The rest of the field is a crap shoot with a former junior national champion (Dennis Phan), the first alternate for the Junior Grand Prix Final (Douglas Razzano), a seasoned Grand Prix competitor (Geoffry Varner), and a solid jumper with little else in his program (Jordan Wilson). Senior Pairs Because there are only four pairs teams registered for this competition, skating here is simply a formality. MeeRan Trombley and Laureano Ibarra are the frontrunners for gold. The pair demonstrated a new technical prowess as last-minute replacements at the 2007 Skate America competition. Little is known about the other competitors; Katie Beriau and Alexander Merritt competed at the 2007 U.S. National Championships finishing 13th, while the other two duos are making their qualifying competition debut. Junior Competition On the junior level, the ladies competition should prove to be highly competitive. Eight young ladies all scored well enough at their regional competitions to qualify here as senior skaters. Look for Ellie Kawamura (All Year FSC) to run away with this competition with Amanda Dobbs (Peninsula SC), Anna Malkova (All Year FSC), and Victoria Rackohn (All Year FSC) close behind. The junior men's event will showcase a wide berth of up-and-coming skaters with something to prove. The favorite has to be Richard Dornbush (All Year FSC), who has been having a great season. Max Aaron (Coyotes SC of Arizona) smoked the competition at his regional competition and should also have a good skate at sectionals. Like their senior counterparts, the pairs field is an unproven one. Lisa Moore and Justin Gaumond (6th place) and Chelsi Guillen and Danny Curzon (7th place) competed in Spokane as juniors last season, and are expected to be the class of the field. Three other teams will fight for the two remaining places at U.S. Championships. The junior ice dancers are also an unseasoned bunch, but this could be a "coming out" of sorts for Rachael Richardson and Brad Coulter, who dazzled during the ice dancing event at Lake Placid. Novice Competition It would be an upset if Victoria Hecht (Los Angeles FSC) and David Wang (All Year FSC) did not win the ladies and men's competitions, respectively. Both are tough competitors who have been rewarded for good basics so far this season. The pairs and dance qualifiers are all so close in ability that it would be reckless to predict who might come out on top, so it will be interesting to see which teams seize the moment.