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Russian teams sit one-two after short dance

Lichtman, Copely are third

Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin have a healthy lead after the short dance.
Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin have a healthy lead after the short dance. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(03/02/2011) - Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin of Russia took a near five-point lead over countrymen Ekaterina Pushkash and Jonathan Guerreiro after Wednesday's short dance, with U.S. junior champions Charlotte Lichtman and Dean Copely third.

Monko and Khaliavan, who hail from Moscow, earned 60.62 points for a fast, sparkling program to the Edith Piaf Waltz "Padam, Padam." The two 19-year-olds were the only couple to gain Level 4 for both of their Viennese Waltz sequences. They also achieved Level 4s for their twizzles and lift, although their midline steps rated just Level 2.

"We are pleased with our performance," Khaliavin said. "Of course, we still could have done better, but for today we did what we had to do. What you saw today was the final performance of our short dance, but it is not the end of the season yet, we are now ready to focus on the free dance, which is the most important part."

Pushkash and Guerreiro, who train in Aston, Pa., under Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov, performed a Waltz in Latin style, showing excellent lines and very good interpretation, but her twizzles were a bit shaky. They earned 55.76 points.

"There was an error today, but it was nothing serious," Guerreiro said. "We hope to do our best in the free dance. This is our first season with new coaches and we mainly wanted to improve our skating the whole season."

Lichtman and Copely gained 55.28 points for their clean, energetic short dance to Italian songs, earning Level 4 for their twizzles and lift.

"In the last few weeks, we mainly worked on our speed with our coaches, Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva," Lichtman said. "Overall today, we feel good about our performance. We had a lot of fun with this short dance and we enjoy the new format. We feel it probably was the best short dance we've done this season, especially level-wise."

U.S. junior bronze medalists Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus, who train in Newark, Del., are fifth with 50.94 points. Their short dance to James Brown's "It's a Man's World" gained Level 4s for its twizzles and rotational lift.

"We are very pleased with how we skated," Cannuscio said. "It was one of our best short dances."

Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager, who won the junior silver medal at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro in January, are 11th with 48.63 points. Mager stumbled on his twizzles, but the rest of their elements were clean.

"We are very happy to compete here, because this was our main goal for the season," Bonacorsi said.

"We had a few little bobbles, but we are close to the top." Mager added: "I had a little technical mistake, but we will come back strong for the free dance."