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Keiser hits triple Lutz, triple toe in to win short

Californian impresses with big-time combinations

Leah Keiser, here with Ron Luddington, hopes to receive a Junior Grand Prix assignment this fall.
Leah Keiser, here with Ron Luddington, hopes to receive a Junior Grand Prix assignment this fall. (Lynn Rutherford)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(07/15/2011) - Californian Leah Keiser opened Liberty's senior ladies group A short program with a bang -- a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination that earned 10.80 points.

The leggy 13-year-old went on to make a clean sweep of all seven elements, earning positive GOE's across the board for moves including a solid triple flip and double Axel, as well as a lovely layback to Biellmann spin.

"I've been working hard on the triple-triple," Keiser said. "Right now the technique is pretty consistent. I'm so happy I landed it."

Her program, choreographed by Lori Nichol to Saint Saens' "Rondo Capriccioso," also featured complex transitions and steps, and she earned 57.03 points, more than eight points over the field.

"My goal here was to just go out and do what I've been doing in practice," Keiser said.

The skater's primary coach, Frank Carroll, was unable to accompany her to Liberty, and Keiser has spent the past week working with Ron Ludington at the University of Delaware.

Usually, she trains with Carroll at Lake Arrowhead and Los Angeles' Toyoto Sports Center, where she sometimes shares the ice with 2010 Olympic champion Evan Lysacek.

"He is such an inspiring skater," Keiser said. "I love watching him train. He is always the hardest worker on the ice."

Keiser, who plans to compete at the Glacier Falls Summer Classic and Golden West later this summer, is making up for lost time. She failed to qualify for the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships after she placed sixth in juniors at Pacific Coast Sectionals last season.

"A lot of things didn't go right at sectionals," she said. "My coach couldn't make it there, and I just had a bad competition.

"That's all in the past. I accept it, and now I'm coming back strong."

Keiser hopes to impress U.S. Figure Skating officials enough this summer to earn a Junior Grand Prix slot this fall. She will compete her free skate, choreographed by Nichol to the theme from Dr. Zhivago, on Saturday.

Two international competitors -- Ola Kamieniecki of Poland and Natalia Popova of Ukraine -- were second and third, respectively.

Kamieniecki, who placed 27th at the 2011 Junior World Figure Skating Championships, had a clean program including a triple flip and triple toe-double toe combination. Popova, the former Ukraine champion, faltered on her opening triple flip but recovered with a solid triple loop, double toe combination.