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Summersett, Gilles stay on top of the seniors

Hubbells overcome nerves to lead the junior class

Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell won Group B in the junior division at the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships.
Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell won Group B in the junior division at the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships. (Katie Weigel/IDC)

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By Alexandra Stevenson, special to icenetwork.com
(08/01/2008) - Todd Gilles couldn't stop smiling.

"It feels so good," said the 6'0" 22-year-old after he and his partner, Jane Summersett, won Thursday night's senior free dance at Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships by a comfortable 7.87 points over Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier, who finished fourth at the 2008 Canadian Championships.

"My adrenaline is still pumping away. I love that feeling. I wish I could bottle it," he added with a laugh.

Summersett and Gilles' four-minute routine was choreographed by Tom Dickson to poignant music from the gritty movie, La Scala. Gilles plays a traveling clown and juggler, who buys an innocent, rebellious young girl to help his act. The movie details their adventures and the sadness of life. Summersett, 20, is obviously the more serious member of the duo. The 5'2" brunette, who was a Christmas Eve baby, said, "It went well. It was pretty good for a routine which is only ten weeks old."

She moved from her home in L'Anse, Mich., to Colorado Springs, Colo., to team up with the blond, curly-haired Gilles, and they made their competitive debut in this event last year.

They did so well that they were sent to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, where they finished sixth in the Golden Spin. Also, they finished sixth at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Now they have a good chance to be named for the third U.S. spot for Skate America in October.

Their coach, Patti Gottwein, cautioned, "They've still got the original and another Viennese Waltz to do, but so far I'm pleased. They got six Level 4s and a lot of +2 GOEs [Grades of Execution] today."

Crone and Poirier performed a beautifully flowing routine set to "A Perfect Day," a mellow cello number played by Yo Yo Ma.

Third in a field reduced from 17 to 12 were Charlotte Maxwell and Nick Traxler from Dallas, who were seventh at the 2008 U.S. Championships. Dressed in black and silver mesh, they presented a raucous routine to music by Queen's "We Will Rock You."

"We wanted to do something completely different to last year, which was to Sarah Brightman's 'Time to Say Goodbye,'" Traxler said. "I'm a dangerous character out there on the ice. Watch out."

Maxwell said, "We were a little slow in places, but that's normal with a routine which is so new."

Maxwell and Traxler gained 70.33 points, only 0.79 ahead of Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt from Ann Arbor, Mich. Kriengkrairut played a modern woman, using martial arts to fight for her rights. Giulietti-Schmitt had a large gold Japanese character on his back. Translated, it meant, "Competition."

JUNIORS

A large part of Wednesday was taken up with 36 junior free dances, showing off an incredible amount of talent. They were divided into two groups. Group A was won by Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein, who train in Canton, Mich., with a 70.89-point performance. Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell, the brother-and-sister duo from Ann Arbor, Mich., won Group B with 73.78 points.

Isabella Cannuscio and Ian Lorello, who train at the University of Delaware FSC, finished second in Group A with 65.28 points. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, who train alongside Chock and Zuerlein, had the second-highest score Thursday among the juniors, 72.96, less than a point behind the Hubbells. The Shibutanis, a brother-and-sister team from Greenwich, Conn., finished fourth in the junior division at U.S. championships in January.

Elyse Matsumoto and Patrick Mays, training partners of the Hubbells, finished third in Group A with 63.15 points. Piper Gilles and Zachary Donahue, from Colorado Springs, Colo., scored 67.66, good enough for third place in Group B, despite Gilles' fall at the end of the routine.

The Hubbells, the reigning U.S. junior champions, finished fifth at the 2008 World Junior Championships. They presented a routine to "Sognami," music with an Italian vocal.

Their coach, Iouri Tchesnitchenko, explained, "It means 'Dream of Me.' We were trying to bring a little more of the Eastern culture to the dance. The words say love has no barriers to age or religion."

Madison Hubbell said, "At Lake Placid, we always feel a little unprepared because it's so early. It's one of the hardest competitions because of that. We performed all our elements. There were a few bobbles, but, other than that, I'm happy with it."

Despite their win, her brother was not so happy. "I was a little nervous. This performance wasn't as good as I'd hoped for."