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New partners Bonacorsi, Mager dance to win

Olson, Cowan come away with silver medal

Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager finished the competition with a final score of 105.80.
Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager finished the competition with a final score of 105.80. (Paul Harvath)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(01/20/2009) - The first time Greg Maddalone saw Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager skate together, he knew he'd found a partnership that could work. Still, he didn't expect them to win the U.S. novice ice dance title just seven months later.

"They just looked fabulous after the first two hours on the ice," Maddalone, who coaches the team in Mt. Laurel, Md., said.

"Travis needs an individual who is very sensitive because he is sensitive, and Lauri is very caring. I am surprised at this result, but they worked as hard as they could and deserve all the credit."

First after the two compulsory dances, Bonacorsi and Mager cemented their win with a soft, elegant free dance to a medley of music from Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and The Last Emperor. They won the event and ended the competition with 105.80 points, more than four points ahead of the field.

"In this program, I'm [playing the part of] his muse, so we tried to show that," Bonacorsi, a high school honors student, said. "We wanted to have fun and enjoy ourselves."

"The step sequence went really well," Mager, who attends the University of Maryland, added. "We definitely made eye contact with the judges. And our final [combination] lift was really in time with the music."

Last season, Mager skated with Lauren Ely, while Bonacorsi spent an entire year looking for a new partner. Mager saw her profile on icepartnersearch.com, and the two tried out in February and again in April. They officially began skating together in late May.

Once a week, they travel to the IceWorks in Aston, Pa., to train with Robbie Kaine, coach of U.S. bronze medalists Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre and many other national competitors.

"This season was all about making a splash, showing what we can do," Mager said.

"We couldn't come to Cleveland with any expectations because we had no track record," added Bonacorsi.

Anastasia Olson and Jordan Cowan, who train in Ann Arbor, Mich., under Yuri Chesnichenko and Yaroslava Nechaeva, captured the silver medal with 101.78 points.

Performing an entertaining Latin number to music from Santana, the tall, well-matched couple lost any chance for the title when Cowan fell on a difficult twizzle sequence. They ended up second in the free dance.

"I was really happy, even though we made one mistake," Olson said. "I was satisfied with the program."

"I think I just over-thought it," Cowan said. "The past two weeks, it's been very consistent."

Moriah Tabon and Matt Kleffman won bronze with 96.76 points. The Colorado Springs-based couple overcame an eighth-place finish in the Blues compulsory with a lively routine to a jazzy version of the classic Russian folk dance, "Dark Eyes." They took third place in the free.

"I was really happy we were able to express ourselves and were able to skate the way we wanted to skate," Kleffman said.

"This was all about the experience; just being here at nationals is a big personal victory itself," Tabon added.

Gabrielle Friedenberg and Benjamin Nykiel, who were third after the two compulsory dances, were sixth in the free dance and fourth overall with 94.19 points.