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Haydenettes dominate senior field in Providence

Earn back-to-back titles and 17th in team history

The Haydenettes won, and won big, Saturday in Providence, R.I.
The Haydenettes won, and won big, Saturday in Providence, R.I. (Paul Harvath)

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By Mickey Brown, special to icenetwork.com
(02/23/2008) - The Haydenettes dynasty is back and better than ever.

With a pair of breathtaking programs this week at the 2008 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in Providence, R.I. -- including a record-breaking free skate Saturday night -- the Saga Krantz-coached team from Lexington, Mass., won its second straight, and 17th overall, U.S. senior title.

How dominant are the Haydenettes? They've won more than twice as many U.S. championships as all their competitors combined (eight).

Need another illustration of their sustained excellence? The team that has the second-most U.S. crowns, the Fraserettes, no longer exists.

After winning the 2007 U.S. championship by a mere 1.48 points, the team didn't just set the goal of standing atop the podium at the end of this competition -- it wanted to bury its challengers here.

"Going into this year, we wanted to win, but we wanted to win by a large margin. We wanted to make sure it was a clear win," team co-captain Erika Hoffman said.

The program that got it done for the Haydenettes was "Hotel Martinez." (Hotel Martinez is a lavish, 1950's-style hotel in Cannes, France, where celebrities from all over the world come to ensconce themselves in luxury.) The pieces the team used in its program are actually from a CD the hotel sells.

After choosing an intense free skate for her team her first year and a lyrical one last season, Krantz opted for something a little more fun this time around.

"I wanted to make [the program like] an Audrey Hepburn-style day in France, with the ocean, busy work, a fancy hotel," Krantz said.

The Haydenettes had everything you could want in a top-notch skate: speed, flow, strong edge quality. Their two blocks and their no-hold step sequence were exceptionally strong, with the former receiving Grades of Execution (GOE) of 2.43 and 1.71, and the latter earning a GOE of 1.71. Their free skate score came to 136.43, a new U.S. record.

Now all they have to do is put out a repeat performance at the 2008 World Synchronized Skating Championships next month in Budapest, Hungary.

"We want to go there and nail those levels and the presentation and be able to sell the program, not to hold back," Krantz said. "Definitely our goal is to get a world medal this year."

In a familiar position, that of the silver medalist, is Miami University. This is the eighth time the RedHawks have finished second -- all of those coming in the past 13 years, and all eight times they've finished behind their bitter rivals.

But Miami head coach Vicki Korn was anything but dejected after her team's free skate, which received a score of 130.92 to better its mark at the 2007 U.S. Championships by 0.61 points. The RedHawks' overall score of 201.26 represented the first time the team has broken the 200-point barrier.

"I thought their energy level was exciting and never quit," Korn said. "I was breathless at the end."

The team's "Urban Jungle" free skate depicts a collection of separate tribes coming together to unite in, as Korn put it, "one great, big, strong feminine group."

The idea came from the team's choreographer since 2002, the L.A.-based Sarah Karahawa. Every September, Korn and her staff travel to Los Angeles to meet with Karahawa and share their ideas for that year's programs. Karahawa then sets on fitting it to the music.

"One thing that helps us stand out from other teams is we really do choreograph to the music. Everything we do has a count and a meaning," Korn said. "That's what makes it so special when they skate it and hit it."

Miami's program was highlighted by its Ina Bauers and overhead lifts during its moves in isolation. It showed great power in its circular step sequence.

For the fourth year in a row, the Crystallettes took the bronze, but they can take solace in the fact that the difference between their score and Miami's was less than seven points, whereas last year it was a whopping 40.

Were it not for an uncharacteristic fall in the short program, the margin would have been even smaller.

"They were a little nervous after having a fall in the short," said head coach Shannon Peterson. "I could see that in their faces in the locker room, but they came out fighting and skated a great program."

California Gold took fourth for the second year in a row. The team performed to music from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.

"I've been holding onto this piece of music for 10 years, and I wanted to share it with this team," head coach Jillian Janik Cipresso said. "They executed it better than I could have imagined."