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Tanovich, Chau prevail in junior short program

Carman, Knierim, Castelli, Shnapir also have good outings

Tracy Tanovich and Michael Chau had a great short program on Saturday at Indy.
Tracy Tanovich and Michael Chau had a great short program on Saturday at Indy. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(08/10/2008) - A strong throw triple loop (worth 5.53 points) helped Tracy Tanovich and Michael Chau edge out victory in the junior pairs short program with 50.26 points at the 2008 Indy Pairs Challenge on Saturday.

The reigning U.S. junior silver medalists landed their opening double twist on two feet, but after that it was clear sailing. Their program, set to "Espana Cani," included three Level 4 elements: the side-by-side combination spins, spiral sequence and closing pair combination spin.

"The [throw] loop was great. The first element was shaky, but they pulled together very quickly," Jim Peterson, the pair's primary coach, said. "When you're dealing with young skaters, their bodies are always changing, and they did very well here. I'm very proud of them."

Tanovich will turn 12 on Aug. 15; Chau is 17. They began competing together as juveniles in 2005 and won the U.S. novice title in 2007.

"It was the best [throw triple loop] we've done so far [in summer competition], nice and big," Tanovich said.

"I think we skated with a lot of confidence and held our own here," added her partner. "Presentation-wise, we really showed off the program."

Tanovich and Chau are not eligible for ISU Junior Grand Prix events, because Tanovich is under 13. Their next competition will be the 2009 Eastern Sectional Championships, where they hope to qualify for the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

"[In 2010] she will be 13, and I will be 19, so we will hopefully still have two full seasons on the Junior Grand Prix, before I turn 21 [and age out]," Chau explained. "Of course, that's if they don't change the rules."

Performing to a Hungarian folk dance, Brynn Carman and Chris Knierim overcame her fall on a transition move to execute all eight of their elements cleanly and place second with 47.72 points.

"[The fall] was a freak accident; I don't think I ever did it before," the 13-year-old Carman said.

"There were just a few bobbles, but it was pretty good," the 20-year-old Knierim said. "I thought we skated with expression."

Knierim added that they "can't wait" for their first-ever Junior Grand Prix event, to be held in Mexico City early next month.

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir were third with 46.94 points.

It was a vast improvement over their short program performance at the Liberty Open just a few weeks ago.

"We've re-arranged some of the 'in-between' [choreography] and simplified it a bit," the 21-year-old Shnapir said. "The connections on everything were better. There were a couple of small mistakes, but we're very satisfied. It's so much easier to skate now that everything is flowing smoothly."

Their next competition will be the ISU Junior Grand Prix event in the Czech Republic.