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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.
Timothy Dolensky is well on his way to putting last year's disappointment behind him. (Tom Briglia)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(01/23/2012) - After subpar performances at his sectional competition cost Timothy Dolensky a spot at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, he decided to make his own kind of music. Literally.

"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."