Mahbanoozadeh, Jiang win gold in Detroit

Gracie Gold claims gold in junior ladies

Armin Mahbanoozadeh grabbed the gold in senior men with a final score of 200.49.
Armin Mahbanoozadeh grabbed the gold in senior men with a final score of 200.49. (Michelle Harvath)


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By Denise Manzagol, special to
(07/25/2011) - 2011 Skate Detroit is in the books.

Junior ladies final round
Gracie Gold shined once again and took first place in junior ladies at Skate Detroit. Sailing through her program, choreographed to three pieces of music, she scored 109.62.

She opened with a clean triple Lutz-double toe combination and finished her program with a strong combination spin. The petite blond executed her hardest jumps, the loop and flip, with ease, both of which she struggled with in Friday's free skate.

"I felt less nervous today," Gold said. "My stomach did not do the roller-coaster thing, and I felt more in control. I did a good long yesterday, so I just had fun out there today. I was just a worry-wart yesterday."

Barbie Long trailed Gold with 96.46 points, putting her in second place for junior ladies.

Long, 14, skated a lively program choreographed to 42nd Street. The energetic skater landed a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop combination followed by a triple flip-double Axel sequence. She fell on her double Axel-triple toe combination.

She said she maintained her motivation at the competition because the scores were close. "I thought it was a pretty good program," Long said. "I need power, speed, better lines, and extensions."

Hannah Miller, the reigning U.S. novice champion, slipped into third place with 91.75 points for her program choreographed to the "Masquerade Waltz."

She executed a strong split jump but received an edge call on her triple Lutz and fell on her triple toe-double Axel sequence.

"I was working hard on interpretation of music and choreography," Miller said. "I made sure I was really focused on everything. It was a great performance."

Kirsten Miller-Zisholz, Miller's coach and aunt, said she will be focusing on developing the diminutive skater into a more mature junior lady and bringing her work up to that level.

Junior men's free skate
Just minutes before the warm-up while Germany's Christopher Berneck was bending and checking his fairly new boots, a hook popped off. Concerned about proper support, he and his coach rigged up another hole and taped the skate. Despite the challenge and last-minute choreography change, Berneck took home the gold in junior men with 97.03 in the free skate for a final score of 148.69.

Berneck had a clean skate to "Otonal," which he chose the piece because his favorite skater, Johnny Weir, had used it. He also said the piece reflects his personality: happy and cheerful.

Jordan Ju edged fellow Canadian Denis Margalik for second place with 93.34 points in the free skate for a final score of 139.75. Margalik netted 93.79 in the free skate for a final score of 138.10.

Junior free dance
Detroit SC's Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton chose "Lord of the Dance" and "River Dance" to show off the joy of Irish dancing. Their powerful performance scored 63.11 points for a final score of 114.17.

"We are proud of ourselves except for the bobble at the end," Aldridge said.

Eaton added, "We had strong, good elements. We could not ask for a better performance this early in the season." Kaitlyn Hawayek and Michael Bramante have stepped up from the novice level. The duo had a dramatic performance to "Allegria/Querer/Irna," scoring 55.95 points for a final score of 99.35.

"We are working on getting all our levels and skating clean but skating powerful," Hawayek said.

Senior free dance
Madison Hubbell and Zack Donohue took first place with a final score of 109.50. Their free dance performance to "I Put a Spell on You" earned 60.23.

Donohue said, "It is a story of a heated relationship with ups and downs, and Madison's favorite part is the break-up of the relationship."

Part of the way through the performance, Donohue fell on his twizzles.

"I never fall on twizzles. I was thinking, 'Get up, get up, get up. Get back on track'," he said.

Hubbell said: "I was shocked. It was his twizzle sequence. I was off guard. I was trying to make it easier for him to pick up the program, and it is rough at this part."

Anastasia Olson and Jordan Cowan scooted in just behind with a final score of 108.40.

They scored 63.21 points for their James Bond free dance, which they chose the piece because they love the movie and, Cowan said, "A lot is going on in his head, and I can relate to that."

Although Olson had a rough skate in the morning practice, she said that overall their performance went well.

Cowan said, "It is our home club and great to be in front of family and friends. It is just another run-through."

Senior men's free skate
With more than a twenty point lead Armin Mahbanoozadeh grabbed the gold in senior men with a final score of 200.49.

Although he fell on his opening quad, he recovered with a triple Axel-double toe combination to score 133.97 points for his free skate performance to the soundtrack Kill Bill, choreographed by Irina Romanova.

"I was really excited about [the quad]. [Falling on it] was a bummer. Hopefully in the next competition, I will land it. This competition was just to get the quad out there," Mahbanoozadeh said.

Jonathan Cassar battled for second place and got it with a final score of 179.51.

His free skate performance to "Paglicci," choreographed by David Wilson, scored 115.52.

"I made mistakes today. I want to peak in the season, not in the pre-season, so I have no reason to be disappointed," Cassar said.

Keegan Messing, still riding high from his performance at Liberty last week, took third place in senior men with a final score of 178.90.

He opened his Pirates of the Caribbean free skate with a strong triple Axel and finished on a high note with a solid combination spin, chalking up 125.31 points.

Senior ladies final
Despite falling on her opening triple Lutz, Nina Jiang still snatched the gold a final free skate score of 93.84. Her performance to Turandot gave her an almost 13-point win.

"My jumps were not spot on, but I made a pretty good showing here. It is just knowing what I want and having my goals clear in my mind," said Jiang, who was making her senior debut.

Shanyn Vallon, Jiang's coach, said, "She's really been skating well. We are excited with what she put out today. It was a hard program. Landing the Lutz jump consistently is new for her, and she hit it in both programs."

A score of 80.88 landed Canada's Vanessa Grenier in second place for her performance to "Nothing Else Matters."

"It was better than yesterday, with flow and speed," Grenier said about her performance.

Becky Bereswill's performance to "Sampson and Delilah" scored her 78.85 points, good for third place.

Coached by Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen, Bereswill is relearning all the jumps with a new technique.

"I'm still trying to get comfortable out there. I feel like every time I get comfortable out there, I get ahead of myself," Bereswill said.