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Silicon Valley Open 2009: A bird's eye view

Liang, Johnson win senior divisions

Bebe Liang is hanging up her skates.
Bebe Liang is hanging up her skates. (Linda Leaver)

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By Laney Diggs, special to icenetwork.com
(08/10/2009) - Two hundred and seventy skaters gathered in the heartland of technology to participate in the 2009 Silicon Valley Open last week. Hosted by the Peninsula Skating Club, this competition featured many national competitors including Bebe Liang, Alexander Johnson, Austin Kanallakan, Andrew Gonzales, and Vanessa Lam.

Kicking off a great weekend of performances, Lam captured the gold medal in the junior ladies event. She won both the short and free programs, finishing with 133.54 points.

The junior men's event featured Grisha Fournier in an exhibition performance of his programs.

The senior ladies crown was awarded to veteran and world competitor Liang. After placing third in the short with 43.16 points, Liang skated the cleanest free skate of the event garnering 80.53 points. Dressed in a dark blue, velvet costume which sparked with silver stones, she landed three triple jumps including a strong opening triple Lutz-double toe combination set to the music "New World Symphony."

When asked about her free skate, Liang commented: "It was a lot better than the short program, and I am happy about that."

Liang's next stop is the Cup of China, which she will be preparing for in the coming weeks.

Following Liang was Laney Diggs, Victoria Muniz and Michelle Hong.

It was an exciting senior men's event, since all three men are superb national competitors entering their first year as seniors. Snatching the gold was Johnson followed by Kanallakan and Gonzales, respectively. Performing in his first competition of the year, Johnson won both the short and the free with stellar performances. He landed seven triple jumps in his free skate including a commanding triple flip-triple toe combination and a triple Lutz-double Axel sequence. This was the final and most outstanding performance of the weekend, bringing down the house with a rare standing ovation from members of the crowd.

"I am happy," said Johnson who finished with a 194.01 points. "I rotated everything and skated as well as I did, considering I have been injured and just getting back on the ice."

Kanallakan landed his first triple Axel in competition during his short program on Thursday, but even landing the hardest triple wasn't enough to please the perfectionist.

"I was just content with the short program but very happy landing the triple Axel," Kanallakan said.

Both Kanallakan and Gonzales will be representing Team USA in the upcoming Junior Grand Prix Series.

The Ernie Burden Award, given annually to the novice man with choreographic excellence, was bestowed upon Robert Przepioski. The Pre-preliminary 3 Girls competitor with the best technical performance was Alyssa Higashi, and for that she was honored with the Kayla Dopp Memorial Trophy.

And, with that, another Silicon Valley Open is in the history books.