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Dube, Wolfe unveil free skate and win

New Canadian pair chooses Philip Glass, says first performance was 'not bad'

Jessica Dube and Sebastien Wolfe were satisfied with their debut performance as a pair.
Jessica Dube and Sebastien Wolfe were satisfied with their debut performance as a pair. (Lynn Rutherford)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(07/16/2011) - The much-discussed new partnership of former world medalist Jessica Dube and Sebastien Wolfe made its competitive debut at Liberty, performing a sophisticated free skate choreographed by David Wilson to selections from Philip Glass.

The well-matched skaters hit two triple throws -- loop and Lutz -- in the second half of the program. Other elements -- including the death spiral, side-by-side spins and jumps, and the final lift -- were less successful. Still, the pair, which has trained together for less than three months, carried a strong sense of elegance throughout. They earned 90.82 points, edging out two Boston-based teams -- Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, and Gretchen Donlan and Andrew Speroff.

"Not bad for the first one," Dube said. "It started out really good and the end was harder.

"I was a little bit nervous. It was our first competition together and we really still have to think through every technical [element]. We can do the elements. It's putting it all together that's tough. When we get home we have to work on that and start running the program in parts."

Dube ended a long, successful partnership with Bryce Davison early this year. The two won three Canadian titles -- in 2007, 2009 and 2010 -- and the 2008 world bronze medal.

Davison suffered a serious knee injury prior to 2010 Skate Canada, and the pair were unable to defend their title at the 2011 Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

They announced their split in March, and Dube teamed with Wolfe, who won the 2011 Canadian junior silver medal with Tara Hancherow.

"We've put more emphasis on the throws and jumps the past weeks," Wolfe said. "We're happy we got the throws done."

"We haven't worked on a triple twist yet; we really need more time," Dube said. "We changed the technique on the twist. It is not the same as in the past [with Davison]. We want to do a nice double before we try a triple."

Dube said the duo chose the spare, complex music because they knew they "needed something different."

"We really like it. It forces us to do a lot more work, to polish the program."

Dube and Wolfe, who train in Quebec under Annie Barabe, are next slated to compete at the Quebec Summer Provincial competition.

Castelli and Shnapir's new free, choreographed by Carrie Wall and Sheryl Franks to Rachmaninoff, took second place with 87.75 points.

The performance had a few early-season glitches, including Shnapir's fall on a triple toe and a turnout on the landing of the throw triple Salchow, but the program marks a new, more mature chapter for the team.

"This year, we're trying to focus not only on our expression and connection to each other, but also our transitions," Shnapir said. "The transitions [score] was consistently our lowest component mark last season.

"We've been watching the top teams, getting ideas and figuring out how to get there. Anyone can skate crossovers into elements, but we're trying to do more [complicated transitions] seamlessly."

Castelli fell on the landing of the throw triple Axel, but she said the move has been consistent in practices.

"We're definitely keeping it in the program."

Donlan and Speroff's elegant program to Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty included two impressive lifts and triple throws. The team struggled on the side-by-side jumps however.

"We're happy with that; it's a new program," Speroff said. "Element-wise, the throws were good, and so were the lifts, except for a glitch on that last lift.

"We're on a quest to land the jumps and it's getting better. After all, it's still early in the season."