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Easterns junior men and pairs champs crowned

Oi, Tanovich and Chau take home top honors

Curran Oi more than made up for his disappointing performance at the JGP Estonia by dominating the junior men at the 2008 Eastern Sectionals.
Curran Oi more than made up for his disappointing performance at the JGP Estonia by dominating the junior men at the 2008 Eastern Sectionals. (--)

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(11/16/2007) - Both the junior men's and junior pairs events were runaways at the 2008 Eastern Sectional Championships, with talented winners turning in outstanding free skates.

Oi Outguns Field

Curran Oi (SC of Boston) had some unfinished business.

"I really wanted to do my triple flip-triple toe in the long, because I skipped it in the short," the skater said.

Oi nailed the difficult combination in his free skate to Michael W. Smith's "Freedom," drawing cheers from the knowledgeable crowd and earning a rare +1.25 Grade of Execution (GOE) from the judges.

Skating with speed and assurance, the Boston-based 17-year-old also landed a superb triple loop (+1 GOE) and triple Lutz (+.50 GOE), as well as a triple Axel with a slightly flawed landing (-2 GOE).

His spins -- a sore spot in his short -- were serviceable; his flying sit gained a level four, although his camel was only a level one. Oi's only major mistake came when he fell out of his final jump, a double Axel.

"I thought it went really well," Oi said. "I did the triple Axel for the first time and basically stood up on it.

"The spins still weren't great, and I have to work to make them smoother and faster. At nationals, I want the program to be stronger, more consistent and have better presentation."

He won the junior men's free skate with 118.66 points, nearly 20 points over the second-place finisher. When added to his winning short-program total, he took the title with 172.58 overall, more than 30 points ahead of the field.

Oi is mounting a comeback of sorts, if the term can be applied to a teenager. Last season, he skated well enough on the fall Junior Grand Prix circuit to make the final. This season, he placed sixth at his single event, JGP Estonia, failing to earn another berth.

"The competition was tougher, and I just didn't skate well," Oi admitted. "I'm getting over it and moving on. I want to be better than ever at nationals, and land a strong triple Axel."

Zachary DeWulf (University of Delaware FSC) was third in the free but took second place overall with 146.27 points.

Performing to Pirates of the Caribbean, the athletic DeWulf landed a triple Lutz-double toe combo (+.50 GOE), as well as four other triples. He fell on a triple Lutz, and popped an intended triple into a single.

DeWulf added a touch of humor to his program by playing the role of a drunken sailor.

"My choreographer, Sasha Kirsanov, helped me with that," DeWulf, whose primary coach is Pam Gregory, said. "I also spent three or four days with Tatiana Tarasova in New York this summer, and she added some of the arm movements."

Daniel Raad (Park FSC) was second in the free, with 98.67 points, and third overall with 141.21 total. Raad earned high marks for a fine triple Lutz and triple Salchow-double toe-double loop combo at the end of his program, but several of his other jump landings, as well as his spins, were a bit wobbly.

Raad was the only skater in the junior men's event to have deductions taken for incorrect jump edges. The technical panel determined his two triple flips featured outside-edge take-offs.

Second after the short, Scott Dyer (Columbia FSC) dropped to fifth in the long and fourth overall, qualifying for the final spot at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Performing his free to a Rachmaninoff piano concerto, Dyer opened with a strong triple toe, but he was unable to complete the double toe portion of the combination. He singled or doubled most of his other jumps. Superb spins, fine presentation and exceptional speed helped him earn 85.41 points, with a program component score of 49.52 points, the second highest of the event.

"I'm happy they gave me another chance," Dyer, who is suffering from an injured right foot, said. "Now I can go home and have my foot fully recovered. There's no exact diagnosis, but I pulled some muscles, and there's a bit of a sprain."

Theron James (New Haven SC) had a personal-best free skate to "Malaguena," including a solid triple toe-triple toe combo, but placed fifth overall with 134.09 points.

"It's the best I've ever done in my life," James said. "I can only be happy. The result doesn't really matter at all." (By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com)

Tanovich and Chau Take Home Junior Pairs Gold

Tracy Tanovich and Michael Chau (Southwest Florida FSC) took first in the junior pairs Friday afternoon with a near-flawless free skate to "The Snow Queen" from the Nutcracker ballet.

"It felt easier than some of the run-throughs we've had in practice," Tanovich, 11, said. "We've been training harder and doing off-ice training, and it has involved a lot of work."

Tanovich and Chau, who have skated together for more than four years, opened up with a one-handed lasso lift, and followed it up with a high throw triple Salchow, a split double twist, and a star lift with a twist-out landing. They also did side-by-side double loops, straight-line footwork and combination spins in perfect unison.

"We work really hard to make sure we are together on these elements," said Tanovich, adding that she and her partner look to see if they're in sync with one another rather than calling out the counts.

The only flaws in Tanovich and Chau's program were a slip on the final landing of a side-by-side double flip-double loop combination by Tanovich, and a fallout on the landing of the throw triple loop.

Tanovich and Chau earned 128.76 points overall, more than 26 points clear of the field.

Meg Byrne and Nathan Bartholomay (University of Delaware FSC) climbed up from third in the short to second in the free and overall with their free skate to "Finlandia."

Donned in arresting navy and turquoise costumes, the team did a throw triple loop, a throw triple Salchow, a split double twist, a star lift, and a lasso lift that covered more than a third of the ice length. Their side-by-side double loops were in perfect sync.

"We didn't have a great short, but today we felt great out there," said Bartholomay, who added that because he and Byrne have been together for so long -- five years -- that it has "become habit to understand one another out on the ice."

This also marked the second event of the day that Bartholomay participated in, since he had just finished skating in the junior men's event just several hours prior. "I'm pretty tired right now, but I'm happy," he said.

Rachel DeRita and Brandon Accardi (University of Delaware FSC) were third overall, dropping from second in the short program. Their free skate to Mendelssohn's "Violin Concerto" featured a split double twist, a star lift into an upside down split, a lasso lift, and a left back inside death spiral that was parallel to the ice.

DeRita and Accardi did, however, fall on their throw triple toe and throw triple Salchow jumps, which seemed to affect the overall flow of the program.

Lara Shelton (SC of Boston) and Neill Shelton (New England FSC) took the last spot to the U.S. Championships by finishing fourth with a speedy, energetic program to Man in the Iron Mask. (By Liz Leamy, special to icenetwork.com)