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Heritage, Fast win Juvenile Free Dance

Oregon duo holds off field at USJC

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By Jared Eborn, special to icenetwork.com
(12/01/2007) - SALT LAKE CITY -- Nervously, Madeline Heritage and Nathaniel Fast waited in the hallway beside the skating rink as their competitors finished their routines.

Heritage and Fast, sitting in first after scoring an impressive 46.36 in the Juvenile Dance Free Dance finals, knew they had done something special. What they didn't know, however, was if that special score would hold up as the remaining three pairs -- each serious threats to win it all -- took their turns skating.

One by one, though, the scores came in and the new partners from Oregon remained in first. When the first set of scores for the final skaters, Danvi and Vu Pham, were announced, nervous anticipation became joyful hugs and smiles.

The Phams, who won the Juvenile Dance Compulsory Dance on Friday night, were awarded a 40.84 and placed third.

"I wanted first really bad," Fast said. "I wanted to skate my best, and I think we did it."

Danielle and Alexander Gamelin, who skate for the SC of New York, took second with a 42.65 score.

Thanks to their massive margin of victory in the free dance, Heritage and Fast also claimed the overall victory with a score of 82.08, leaping from fifth place the day before to first. The Pham siblings took second at 77.38, and the Gamelins finished third at 75.82.

Katie Shipstad and Logan Bye enjoyed a solid performance in the free dance to score 40.62 and place fourth, while South Bay FSC's Nicolette Barba and Ryan Farmer were fifth.

Lorraine MacNamara and Quinn Carpenter of the Washington FSC placed fourth in the combined standings and Nicolette Barba and Ryan Farmer were fifth.

For Heritage and Fast, the national championship is the result of four quick months of practice together and becoming partners only in August.

"We just got together a few months ago," Heritage said. "We had skated at the same rinks and kind of knew each other, but when we started looking for new partners our parents helped us get together."

Not knowing each other nearly as well as some of their competitors didn't seem to hurt the duo from Oregon.

What did almost hurt, though, was a bobble on one of their final elements.

Heritage was unable to complete one of her moves. But instead of crashing and burning, she was able to pull out a different move and save the moment.

While trying to regroup mentally, the duo exchanged nervous stares on the ice while performing the next step in their dance to the song "Save the Last Dance for Me."

"That little stumble was scary," she said. "But we were able to make it work. But it scared us for a while."

It didn't scare the judges, though, and the national championship belongs to Heritage and Fast as a result.