Floods can't stop Cedar Rapids duo

Gifford, Bodnarek dominate novice pairs this summer

Lauren Gifford (left) and Carson Bodnarek (right) sit with their coach, Andy Seitz (middle), after winning the novice competition at Indy.
Lauren Gifford (left) and Carson Bodnarek (right) sit with their coach, Andy Seitz (middle), after winning the novice competition at Indy. (Lynn Rutherford)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(08/09/2008) - Lauren Gifford and Carson Bodnarek, who won the 2008 Indy Pairs Challenge novice short program Friday, finished on top again Saturday morning in the free skate.

The victories here completed a summer trifecta for the teens, who also posted wins at the Liberty Open and Skate Detroit.

Gifford and Bodnarek, who are coached by 2006 U.S. junior pair champ Andy Seitz at the Cedar Rapids Ice Rink, performed an entertaining program to the motion picture soundtrack The Addams Family. Although they missed their opening double Axels, they reeled off a solid double twist and two strong double throw jumps (Salchow and flip). Their finest element, a Level 4 forward inside death spiral with two changes of arm position, helped them earn 69.28 total points.

"There were a lot of good aspects to the program," the 17-year-old Bodnarek said. "A lot of things worked today. Our twist was good, and so were our lifts."

"Our throws felt good too," the 13-year-old Gifford added. "But my favorite thing is doing lifts."

Paired together for nearly four years, Gifford and Bodnarek ranked fourth in the intermediate division last season. Their next competition will be the 2009 Midwestern Sectional Championships, where they hope to qualify for the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Seitz, a former U.S. junior pairs champion (with Kendra Moyle), has coached in Cedar Rapids for two years. The 22-year-old, who also attends the University of Iowa, is enjoying fast success: his other students, Anya Cockerell and Mark Krutzfield, won their juvenile event yesterday.

Cedar Rapids skaters have had to navigate around the city's devastating floods this summer. In mid-June, thousands of residents were forced from their homes when the Cedar River overflowed its banks. For several days, the U. S. National Guard and Cedar Rapids Police Department took possession of the Ice Arena as a command headquarters.

"It was only closed for two or three days; there wasn't any heavy damage," Seitz said. "The rest of the city, though, is still a mess."

Cassie Andrews and Nicholas Anderson, who placed second in the short, were second in the free with 64.95 points. Kylie Duarte and Colin Grafton were third with 62.55.