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Zhang, Toth win junior pairs short program

New team edges out Ukraine's Rybka, Deputat

Taylor Toth (right) and partner Felicia Zhang competed in the pairs event at the JGP Germany.
Taylor Toth (right) and partner Felicia Zhang competed in the pairs event at the JGP Germany. (Liz Leamy)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(07/17/2009) - It looks like pairs skating agrees with Felicia Zhang.

With just two months training under their belts, she and partner Taylor Toth won the junior pairs short program at the Liberty Summer Competition in Aston, Pa., edging out Ukrainians Vladyslava Rybka and Andriy Deputat by 0.17 points.

"We had a really good throw double Salchow and good [side-by-side] double Axels," Toth said. "Hopefully, by the time we get to Indy [for the Pairs Challenge, Aug. 1-Aug. 2], those Axels will be triple toes."

Zhang, the 2008 U.S. novice ladies bronze medalist, is learning pairs from the ground up.

"It's a lot of fun; I love it," Zhang said. "I love the throws and the lifts, too."

The team, which trains at the University of Delaware, credits coaches Ludington and Jeff DiGregorio with its swift progress.

"It's good they know how to explain things. I can do the moves, but I have a hard time explaining them," Toth said. "They're very technical and hard to describe."

The team hopes to win an assignment on the Junior Grand Prix.

Rybka and Deputat showed an impressive Level 4 lift and good speed, although they completed only a single twist.

"She's going to be 12 at the end of July, so she is too young for the Junior Grand Prix," said Rashid Kadyrkaev, one of their coaches. "They live in Kiev, but they're training with us in Ashburn [Va.] at the Ice House.

"We're trying to maximize their visit here, so they are also doing the Potomac Open and Indy [Challenge] to prepare for Ukraine nationals in February."

Olivia Gibbons and Tyler Harris, who train under Bobby Martin, Carrie Wall and Christine Hough at the Skating Club of Boston, were third with 38.97 points. Meredith Pipkin and Brett Dunie-Neustadt placed fourth with 37.08.