Parsons siblings lead after novice compulsories

Old-time Blues, Paso Doble still worth half for novices

Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons have a good lead headed into the free dance.
Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons have a good lead headed into the free dance. (Michelle Harvath)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(01/23/2011) - Compulsory -- or pattern -- ice dances are no longer a separate event for junior and senior teams, but they're still worth half the score in the novice ice dance event.

And that's how most of the coaches and competitors in Greensboro seemed to like it.

"It is very good to have them for novice; the skaters are still developing," Alexei Kiliakov, a founder of Maryland's Wheaton Ice Academy, said. "The compulsories give a lot of basics that really help with future performances."

Kiliakov's top novice team, siblings Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons, led the 12-team pack with wins in both the Blues and Paso Doble, two dances that date back to 1930s Britain, when George VI sat on the throne.

The siblings, aged 13 and 15 respectively, opened with a smooth, speedy Blues, earning 25 despite a slight slip by Michael. They look more confident in the showier Paso -- the Spanish toreador number that gives male dancers a chance to strut and scowl -- scoring 27.36.

The Parsons' 52.36 points overall gives them a 3.68-point lead going in to the free dance.

"The Blues wasn't our best, but we were pretty happy with it," Rachel said. "The Paso, I thought it was the best we've ever skated it."

"It's strange, because usually the Blues is better," Michael said.

The siblings teamed up in February, 2010; their first big competition together was last summer's Lake Placid Ice Dance Competition. Previously, they competed with other partners. Kiliakov thinks they have a good future together.

"Their elements are stronger now and they have much more variety," he said. "Everything they do is athletic and unique. You'll see in their free dance [to "Firebird"], the lifts and spins are not common."

As for Rachel, she's happy to do compulsories, but for a different reason than her coach.

"I like it because it lets me wear one more dress," she said, showing off a sparkly number created by her mom, Christine.

Jessica Mancini and Tyler Brooks, who train at Colorado Springs World Arena under Tiffany Dombeck, also had too solid outings, placing second in both dances for a combined 48.68 points.

"We went out aggressive, really tried to push the patterns; we've really worked to enhance our performance quality coming into nationals," Mancini said.

The couple usually trains on an Olympic-sized rink and was challenged to fit their patterns into the smaller, NHL-sized rink here in Greensboro. The change had one benefit: it forced deeper edges, particularly in the Paso.

"We made it -- we managed not to hit the wall," Brooks said.

Kaitlyn Hawayek and Michael Bramante stand third overall with 47.88, including a third place in the Blues and fourth in the Paso.

"I thought we skated really well, I thought we skated up," Hawayek said.

"I think the Paso is our favorite, since we're doing a Paso free dance, too." Bramante added.

Another team from the Wheaton Ice Academy, Eliiana Pogrebrinsky and Ross Gudis, are fourth with 47.15.