Quick hits from Champs Camp in Colorado

Dobbs ups the technical ante; Billings' "big mouth"

Madison Hubbell is doing well after her appendectomy.
Madison Hubbell is doing well after her appendectomy. (Renee Felton)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(08/27/2010) - Amanda Dobbs is channeling Audrey Hepburn in her new short program, choreographed by L.A.-based Cindy Stuart to "Moon River."

The 17-year-old, seventh at the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, wasn't a big Hepburn fan until Stuart asked her to watch Breakfast at Tiffany's, the iconic 1961 film that features the song.

"I loved it," Dobbs said. "I could relate to the story, and I could relate to her, and she was just so beautiful. I said, 'I would love to skate to this.'"

Just like the movie's independent heroine, Holly Golightly, Dobbs has been on a quest of self improvement; in her case, she's worked to add more technical difficulty to her repertoire.

"I'll be doing two triple flips in my long ["Concierto de Aranjuez" by Joaquín Rodrigo] this season, although I'm doing a triple and a double here at Champs Camp," Dobbs said.

"And I'm doing a triple toe, double toe [combination] in the short and a [solo] triple flip. Last year, I did a Salchow [in the short]. I want to up my components and my technical marks, and this is the way to do it. Working on the flip, and working on the triple loop, is really what I've been focusing on."

Dobbs would also like to gain ground on her layback spin.

"I don't really do Biellmanns, because I've had a lot of back issues, but I'm working on increasing the speed so I can get [a higher] level," she said. "That's optional; the callers don't give it all the time. It depends on the person."

Dobbs, who placed seventh in pairs at the 2010 U.S. Championships with Joseph Jacobsen, admits practicing two disciplines is rough at times.

"Sometimes it's challenging, but we always find a way to work things out," she said. "I love doing pairs. I can't see giving either [pairs or singles] up."

Dobbs and Jacobsen, who have been skating together for a year, had a setback in June when Jacobsen was injured in a car accident.

"A lady hit him from behind, and the car was totaled," the team's [and Dobbs'] coach, Jenni Meno, said. "He hurt his back, the first time he's ever had a back problem. He was off the ice during the time we had planned to spend getting their programs together. It was a real setback, but they're back on track now."

Although the team competed at the Indy Pairs Challenge earlier this summer, they were not at their best, missing several lifts. They did land a throw triple flip.

"That was a good take away, getting the programs out and landing the new throw triple," Dobbs said. "With the back issues he had, we didn't do much lifting going in to Indy, but I was happy I got the new throw done."

Dobbs will compete at Cup of China this fall, and she and Jacobsen will compete at sectionals to qualify for the 2011 U.S. Championships.

New look for Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell
Madison Hubbell timed her appendectomy well, undergoing emergency surgery on May 5, right before the summer training crunch.

"I was off the ice for three weeks," the 19-year-old ice dancer said. "My stomach started to hurt, I went into the hospital that night, and I had the surgery the next morning. It was all pretty quick."

Madison and her brother, Keiffer, moved to Detroit Skating Club last October to train under Pasquale Camerlengo and Anjelica Krylova.

"It's been great," she said. "There are six permanent teams there right now and a lot of people in and out for choreography. It's a really fun environment. We get help from four different coaches, a nutritionist, a physical fitness person and a sport psychologist, so it's quite busy."

Camerlengo, who choreographed world champion Daisuke Takahashi's acclaimed La Strada free skate, created a short dance of Waltz and Tango rhythms for the couple.

"It's to music from The Addams Family; it's not quite so lovey-dovey, which is nice," Madison said.

The free is to a mix of music from Yellow and a band called Art of Noise.

"Liz [Punsalan] and Jerod [Swallow] skated to piece of Art of Noise's music in 1991 for their 'Racing' free dance," she said. [Punsalan and Swallow, five-time U.S. ice dance champions, also coach at DSC].

"We focused on the ISU asking for more fun, upbeat free dances. It's more of a dance party theme, very different from anything we've ever done. We've also got a bunch of new lifts, trying to get good levels. The top teams have set the standards so high."

Madison and Keiffer, who were fourth at the 2010 U.S. Championships, have set ambitious but attainable goals this season.

"The biggest thing is to get to the world championships," Krylova, a two-time world ice dance champion (with Oleg Ovssianakov) said. "They will fight for the podium at nationals and I think they deserve it. They are working hard, the programs look good.

"We focused a lot on the technical elements during the summer, and did many basic exercises to [strengthen] the skating skills, before we even started work on the programs. Sport is sport and you never know what can happen."

"The whole package."

In addition to technical specialists and judges, U.S. Figure Skating invited Stars on Ice director Jef Billings, renowned for both his theatrical and production know-how and costume design skills, to Champs Camp to lend his thoughts to coaches.

"They brought me in to comment on the whole package," the vibrant and brutally honest Billings, who has began designing costumes for Stars on Ice in 1995 and has designed for skaters ranging from Katarina Witt to Sarah Hughes to Jeffrey Buttle, said. "With my big mouth, who knows how long I'll last. Costumes have just gotten really out of hand, especially for the men. I don't think we need black lace gloves on men."