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Evora, Ladwig win short with "Love Actually" at Liberty

Veteran pair wins short program; rinkmates finish right behind them

Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig used a colorful short program last season.
Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig used a colorful short program last season. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(07/17/2009) - Competing at the Liberty Summer Competition every July is practically second nature to Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig.

"We've done this event every year since we started skating together, so it's eight years running," Evora said. "I can't imagine not coming."

"We've competed more at this rink [IceWorks in Aston, Pa.] than any other," Ladwig added. "The more competitions we have, the more feedback we get before our international events, the better."

The team, fourth at the 2009 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships, debuted a new short program, choreographed by their coach Jim Peterson to music from the Love Actually soundtrack. They won the event with 57.65 points.

"It wasn't our best, but it had some good things," Evora added. "Our hip catch on the [Level 2] triple twist was better, and we had a solid throw triple loop. But, obviously, I popped the [triple] Salchow, and we were off on the side-by-side spins, which we really expect to be in unison."

The team is known for difficult transitions into and out of elements. Four of their moves -- the back outside death spiral, pair combination spin, side-by-side spins and press lift -- gained Level 4.

"That actually may not end up being the lift we use; we're working on spread eagles into a press star lift, with a back-to-back, split jump entrance," Ladwig said. "Hopefully, it will be ready in time for Indy [Challenge, Aug. 1-Aug. 2]."

Peterson, who also coaches U.S. pairs silver medalists Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett, would love to have the top two U.S. teams this season.

"Amanda and Mark have to get their side-by-side elements more consistent," Peterson said. "Their pair elements are strong. We've been working on the height and catch on the triple twist and just making everything more explosive. [U.S. Skating's] Pairs Camp was very helpful with that."

At Pairs Camp this spring, top U.S. couples worked with U.S. pair greats Todd Sand and Jason Dungjen. Five-time U.S. ice dance champion Judy Blumberg gave power stroking sessions.

"We're going to work with [Blumberg] again later this month. She's coming to our rink," Ladwig said.

The team has been assigned to the Cup of China this fall. They hope strong performances here and at Indy will help them gain a second assignment, perhaps at Skate America in Lake Placid in November.

U.S. junior champions Tracy Tanovich and Michael Chau, who train alongside Evora and Ladwig in Ellenton, Fla., placed second with 49.22 points.

"It felt like we were a little cautious at times; the transitions could have been better," Chau said. "It's a harder program this season, but if you want to compete in seniors, this is what you have to do. Obviously, I'm disappointed I fell on the triple loop."

The team opened with a triple twist. Like Evora and Ladwig, their program had four Level 4 elements: side-by-side flying camel combination spins, lift, death spiral and closing pair combination spin.

Erika Choi Smith and Nathan Bartholomay, who train at the University of Delaware, were third with 41.44 points.

"It was a good start. They just need a little more mileage," said Ron Ludington, one of their coaches. "They're a junior team; they're doing seniors here."

Canadians Noémie Arseneault and Simon-Pierre Côté were fourth with 31.23 points.