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Skyliners run away with junior gold medal

More than 12 points separate Skyliners from Team Braemar

The Skyliners struck gold in the junior event on Friday night.
The Skyliners struck gold in the junior event on Friday night. (Paul Harvath)

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By Renee Felton, special to icenetwork.com
(03/05/2011) - The Skyliners, Team Braemar and Lexettes finished 1-2-3, respectively, for the second time this season. For the Skyliners and Braemar, the U.S. Championships were not only good for the trophy case but also a nice warm up for the upcoming World Junior Challenge Cup. For their part, the Lexettes couldn't have had a better ending to the season.

A typically reserved coach Josh Babb of the Skyliners readily called this Phantom of the Opera free skate "the performance of their lives." The team earned 127.48 of their 190.85 points during this segment.

"We have been consistent all season," he continued. "But this doesn't even compare. It was amazing."

They may have had trouble with it in practice, but when the time came for the Skyliners to perform their program-opening wheel, the problems had disappeared. The element saw a 2.43 grade of execution added to a base value of 5.20. From there, the program steadily gained momentum until the crowd was readily cheering and on its feet by the finale.

The team now hopes for another skate of their lives next weekend for the competition in Neuchatel, Switzerland.

"This is a major confidence booster for us," team co-captain Ashley Mulhern said. "I mean, our confidence is literally through the roof."

So far, the team has realized two of its three goals for the season. They made another World Junior Team, and they improved on their second-place finish at the 2010 U.S. Championships. Next up, they look to better a fifth-place finish at the World Junior Challenge Cup from a year ago. Silver medalists Team Braemar, which had won the previous two U.S. titles, survived an early fall on their block but finished the Alice in Wonderland program cleanly. They totaled 178.75 points with 116.00 coming in the free skate.

There will be a momentary celebration before Pam May and her team heads home to Edina, Minn., for a short time and then on to Switzerland.

"This was a good skate, but we are hoping to peak next week," May said. "I think both programs are almost ready for worlds but we obviously need to have better control on some of our elements and perform them consistently in practice and competition."

Braemar member Anna Farrington agrees.

"This was a lot of fun but rougher than we are used to," she explained. "We feel ready for out next competition but definitely have a few kinks to work out between now and then."

Saga Krantz's Lexettes, from the Hayden Recreation Center FSC, placed second in the free skate (118.60 points) as they easily gave their best performance of the year. Their score of 175.81 was enough for a fourth consecutive bronze medal.

"It was a clean program that was full of expression," Krantz said. "It was by far our best skate of the season and a fantastic way to end the season. For us, bronze feels like gold."

The program, inspired by the remake of The Karate Kid, featured a no hold step sequence that earned 7.06 points including a 1.86 GOE followed directly by a level four circle that netted 7.49 points.

Chicago Jazz rounded out the top four with 151.66 total points.