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Pham siblings lead juvenile dance field

Pairs from Washington FSC take three of four top spots on the day

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By Jared Eborn, special to icenetwork.com
(11/30/2007) - Two by two, the skaters coached by Alexei Kiliakov and Dmitri Ilin took to the ice and didn't come off until they had wowed the judges and audience.

The skaters, representing the Washington Figure Skating Club and coached by the former Russian stars, had remarkable performances as they took first, third and fourth in the compulsories of the juvenile dance finals at the U.S. Junior Championships.

Brother and sister Danvi and Vu Pham put on a dazzling display of technically solid skating to take the lead with a score of 36.54.

"We knew we could win," Danvi Pham said, noting their first-place score of 18.24 in the swing dance portion of the competition. "But we had to try our best to keep it up."

They proved up to the challenge, as they scored 18.30 a few minutes later in their fourteen-step routine to easily remain in first.

Vu Pham, just eight years old and partnering with her 10-year-old brother, was thrilled to have the months worth of hard work pay off.

"It's very exciting," she said. "To go out and do it like that and make it work so well, it was very fun."

The siblings from Silver Springs, Md., have been skating together for nearly five years already, and from the looks of their most recent performance, the pair may have some national competitions to win before they are finished.

Ending the day in second was duo Madeline Heritage and Nathaniel Fast from Portland, Ore. The "old timers" are 13 and 16 respectively, and they admitted they feel like they are at a disadvantage on the ice against their younger -- and some would say cuter and more adorable -- competitors.

"We just have to train twice as hard," Heritage joked. "I think they get a good reaction sometimes because they are not just good, but they look so cute out there."

Heritage and Fast combined their 16.93 swing dance score with a fourteen-step score of 18.79 to jump from fifth after the first round to second in the standings with a 35.72 result.

"It was stressful," Fast said. "We were behind and wanted to get in front. We just had to skate our best and see if that was good enough."

Currently in third is the Washington Figure Skating Club duo Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter. McNamara is another youngster at 8 years old, while Carpenter is "more seasoned" at 11. Their fourteen-step routine landed a 17.98 score and, combined with their swing dance effort of 17.11, resulted in a 35.09 compulsory total.

"It felt really good," McNamara said. "Last year we didn't make it to finals, so this is our first finals, and it kind of feels so good to do well."

Her partner expressed similar feelings.

"We've practice hard for so long," Carpenter said. "You get out there and start having fun, and it all falls into place."

Victoria Suttora and Kyle MacMillan tallied a score of 34.33, good enough for fourth place, to round out the Washington Figure Skating Club's dominance.

Nicolette Barba and Ryan Farmer of southern California's South Bay Figure Skating Club finished the round in fifth place with a total score of 34.20 after taking the early lead based on their strong fourteen-step score of 17.06.