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Wolf and Ainsworth win novice dance

Long-time partners take national title

Longtime partners Chloe Wolf and Rhys Ainsworth secured novice dance gold Monday.
Longtime partners Chloe Wolf and Rhys Ainsworth secured novice dance gold Monday. (Michelle Harvath)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(01/22/2008) - Experience paid off for Chloe Wolf and Rhys Ainsworth.

The couple from Maine, who have skated together for seven years, won the novice dance title with a sparkling rendition of their free dance to music from Les Miserables.

"All of those years together really made a big difference," the 18-year-old Ainsworth said. "Every second on the ice, I know where she will be. We're just really comfortable with each other."

Wolf and Ainsworth won the free dance competition with 61.17 points and triumphed with 110.69 points overall.

The result was a big step up for the couple after placed seventh in this event last season.

"It's been a lot of hard work," the 18-year-old Wolf said. "We've been traveling to University of Delaware to work with Karen Ludington, Christie [Moxley] and Sasha [Kirsanov] a lot more this season."

When home in Maine, the team trains under Ann Hanson.

The 2008 Eastern Sectionals winners highlighted their three-minute program with five difficult level-four elements, including a combination curve and rotational lift that gained a solid +.71 Grade of Execution (GOE) from the judges. Although they lacked a bit of speed toward the end of the routine, their only noticeable flaw was unison trouble on their twizzle sequence.

"I was a little shaky on the twizzles, but overall it was solid," Ainsworth said.

"I'm glad we skated last; it was nice to know right away where we were in the standings," Wolf added. "We kind of knew we could control our own destiny, if we skated well."

The silver medal went to Megan Evans and Nathan Truesdell, who train in Canton, Mich., in Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva's school.

Performing a winsome free dance to music from Little Miss Sunshine, the tall, blonde Evans hit lovely positions in the lifts and spin, and the couple showed good unison in their twizzles and diagonal steps. Their closing rotational lift was a bit messy, resulting in a one-point deduction.

Although their 56.83 points put them third in the free dance, their overall total of 106.27 was good enough for second place. "It went well; we're pleased with ourselves," the 17-year-old Evans, who has competed in ice dance for just two years, said. "We went over time on our rotational lift, but everything else was good."

"I'm especially pleased that I'm one of the few African-Americans to win a medal at U.S. nationals," the 19-year-old Truesdell added.

Una Donegan and Andrew Korda rose from fifth place after the compulsories to take the bronze medal after placing second in the free dance with their program to Sarah Brightman's "Anytime, Anywhere."

Five well-executed, level-four elements, including a combination curve and rotational lift, helped them rack up a Technical Element Score (TES) of 32.85 points, the highest of the event. They earned 59.25 points for their free dance for a final tally of 103.85.

"We just wanted to come here and skate clean," the 18-year-old Korda said. "We thought maybe we could place fourth. This medal is a great bonus."

"We watched the whole last warm-up group sitting in the stands," added his 17-year-old partner. "When we saw we were third, we just jumped out of our seats."

Donegan and Korda, who make their homes in Maine, commute to Boston to train under Justin Pekarek and Hilary Gibbons.

Anastasia Olson and Jordan Cowan, who have skated together only since April 2007, captured fourth place in the free dance and fourth overall with 103.15 points.

The couple, who trains in Ann Arbor, Mich., under Iouri Tchesnitchenko and Yaroslava Netchaeva, performed an energetic Russian folk dance that fell off a bit on the final two elements, the twizzles and rotational lift. "We love training at the same rink with Iouri and Slava's other students, especially [U.S. junior champs] Emily [Samuelson] and Evan [Bates]," the 15-year-old Olson said. "They have amazing skating skills and great attitudes. They're definitely people to look up to."

Katie Wyble and Justin Morrow placed seventh in the free dance and fifth overall with 98.83 points. Kate McDermott and Colin McManus were sixth with 95.85 points.