Dolensky edges Chen by 0.05 to win short
Georgia native skates to his own tune; Chen makes big move
|Timothy Dolensky is well on his way to putting last year's disappointment behind him. (Tom Briglia)|
"Last year I was home watching nationals on icenetwork," the 19-year-old from Kennesaw, Ga., said. "I didn't make it, so I decided to write something that would help me move forward. It turned out so well, we decided to use it."
Dolensky, a talented musician who has studied piano since he was 6, came up with "Windfall," a New Age-type piece with dramatic passages and a soft melody. His choreographer, Catarina Lindgren, asked him to re-work a few sections, and after a few tussles, Dolensky complied. The result: a short program good enough to earn 63.20 points and a slim .05-point lead over two-time U.S. novice champion Nathan Chen.
"Skating to my own music is a big advantage," said Dolensky, a part-time student at Keneesaw State University. "It's a lot easier to get inspired by something you created."
Technically, too, Dolensky broke new ground, hitting a triple loop-triple toe combination in the short for the first time.
"I'm happy with the elements. I did a triple-triple for the first time and my spins were good," he said. "I knew when I did my very best, I could be a top guy. I had to believe in myself and use last year's disappointment as motivation."
Next on Dolensky's agenda: a triple Axel.
"I've landed triple Axel before, but it's not in the programs here," he said. "I haven't felt I needed it. Obviously, next season [as a senior], I will."
The 12-year-old Chen was hot on Dolensky's heels after landing a triple flip-triple toe combination and triple Lutz in his short to music from Thomas Newman's WALL-E soundtrack.
"I felt a little nervous before I skated," the Salt Lake City native said. "I did a couple of good shorts in practice here, which was pretty good.
"The program is a lot of fun; I selected the music and worked on it with [choreographer] Stephanee Grosscup."
Chen, who began working with Rafael Arutunian in Lake Arrowhead in mid-December, said he plans to move there to train full time. He and Arutunian will continue work on the triple Axel, a jump Chen put aside for this competition.
"It was getting close, but I stopped working on it, to [focus] on my programs for nationals," he said. "Next season should be very exciting. I've been waiting quite a while to hit 13, so I could compete internationally [in the Junior Grand Prix]."
Tim Koleto, who trains in Colorado Springs under Tom Zakrajsek and Becky Calvin, had an elegant, mature outing to the haunting waltz "Dark Secret." The 20-year-old, who hit a triple loop-double toe and triple Lutz, sits third with 59.18 points.
"It felt really good to do [in competition] what I've been doing every day in practice," Koleto said. "I really wanted to give a performance and project all the way to the top of the arena."
Koleto used a unique method to select his music.
"My choreographer, Catarina Lindgren, decided she wanted me to do a waltz, so I went to iTunes, typed in 'waltz' and looked all the way at the bottom for the least popular waltz. I didn't want to skate to something well known."
"Tim gave a performance today; he didn't just skate a clean short," Zakrajsek said. "There was not one moment I was uncomfortable watching him. He was secure in every element."