Lamay leads novice ladies after short program

Less than two points seperate top two skaters

Sophia Lamay leads after the novice ladies short program at U.S. Nationals.
Sophia Lamay leads after the novice ladies short program at U.S. Nationals. (Paul Harvath )


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By Becca Staed, special to
(01/20/2008) - It was a very close competition in the novice ladies short program, with the top three novice ladies making their debut at this level at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Naturally, Sophia Lamay (Texas Gulf Coast FSC) was all smiles after grabbing the lead with ease in her first trip to the U.S. Championships.

The upbeat tone of Lamay's short program music -- a combination of Happy Feet and 42nd Street -- was a personal reflection and made her feel "perky", she said.

Perky is as perky does.

"It was a personal best for me because I went out there, skated my hardest and kept smiling," said Lamay. "It felt so good in a big competition like this."

Lamay's spins were all level three or higher. She completed a level-four spin sequence and layback spin and one level-three combo spin. She was one of the few to nail each jump, and one of even fewer to attempt and land a triple. She began with a double Lutz-double loop combination, followed by a triple Salchow and then a double Axel, all beautifully executed.

Her short program score of 38.86 gave her a little over a 1.5-point lead, which she hopes to keep tomorrow in her "dramatic" free skate program to "Polovtsian," a song chosen by her coach, four-time U.S. pairs champion Kitty Carruthers.

"My coach inspires me so much," said Lamay. "She helps me through everything on and off the ice. She is such a role model for me."

Though Marissa Secundy (Broadmoor SC) slammed into the boards on the landing of her triple Lutz, double toe loop, it didn't faze her or the judges. Secundy edged into second place with a 37.26-point short program score.

"It was disappointing, because I [hit the boards] on the Lutz, which was my hardest jump, and to miss it on that..." Secundy trailed off. "But it was still a good program, so I'm happy about it." She also landed a triple loop earlier in her program, which was set to "Sabura" by Max Pashm, as well as a double Axel. Both her spin sequence and spin combination were level fours, major improvements upon her first layback spin, which earned a level two.

Going into tomorrow, in which she has planned five triple jumps as well as a double Axel, Secundy said, "I'm going to remember how I've trained. I know how to do everything, so I've just got to accomplish it."

Gretchen Donlan (SC of Boston) finished comfortably in third with her graceful performance to "Pas de deux" from the "The Nutcracker" by Tchaikovsky. She was the only skater to earn level fours on all her spins, and she neatly executed three double jumps, including a double Axel, a double Lutz-double toe combination and a double flip.

Felicia Zhang skated a beautiful program to "The Last Emperor" by Ryuichi Sakamoto, landing all of her jumps and earning no lower than level-three spins, but she slid back into fourth place with a 35.83 first-day total.

"Novice level is a big step up [from intermediate], but I think I did well," said Zhang. "It's a learning process for me."