Phoenix-like Pizzo wins championship gold men

Gold medalist redeems himself after missing nationals last season

Marco Pizzo (All Year FSC) won championship adult gold men with a score of 32.03.
Marco Pizzo (All Year FSC) won championship adult gold men with a score of 32.03. (Terryl Lee Allen)


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By Barb Reichert, special to
(04/14/2012) - Marco Pizzo of the All Year Figure Skating Club found redemption Saturday morning at the 2012 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships, earning the gold medal in championship adult gold men.

Pizzo's 32.03 points helped him edge Daniel Paepke of the Washington Figure Skating Club, who earned the silver medal with 30.94 points. Ian Catindig of the St. Moritz Ice Skating Club won the bronze with 28.57 points, just edging out Ken Ho of the Pittsburgh Skating Club, who claimed the pewter with 28.04 points.

It was a particularly sweet victory for Pizzo, who is from Long Beach, Calif. He did not qualify for nationals in this event last year in Salt Lake City.

"I didn't even make the championship round after sectionals," he said.

Skating to "Fox to Phoenix" from the movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Pizzo was focused and sharp, skating in a determined way.

"I chose my music because after last year, well, it didn't go that well," Pizzo said. "I like the metaphor of the phoenix that rises from the ashes, and soars and flies. I tried to have that as my goal this year."

Even with the gold medal around his neck, Pizzo was most satisfied with having performed well on the big ice.

"I was just pleased I could skate a clean program," he said. "That's what I'm most happy about."

Right at Pizzo's heels was Paepke, who held his face in part awe, part elation as he left the ice. Skating to French music that he admits he can't pronounce ("I think it translates to 'The Straw that Broke the Golden Waltz.' "), he immediately got the crowd's attention.

His first four elements -- a combination spin, double toe loop, double Salchow and a Lutz-loop-Axel sequence -- had the crowd on its feet.

"It felt like I have practiced all week, and it just felt good, it felt strong," said Paepke, who slicked back his dark hair for that Parisian look.

Just as entertaining was Catindig, who jazzed it up to music by Duke Ellington. A natural performer who only has been skating for two years, he skated with high energy that seemed to feed off the crowd. At one point, after a Lutz-toe-loop combination, he made eye contact with fans, then gave a smile and a wave.

"I want people to watch me and feel like, 'Oh, I got my money's worth,' " Catindig said.

Catindig's program was going strong until an inexplicable fall as he was beginning to glide down the ice near the end.

"I don't know what happened," he said with a laugh. "When I landed the last combo, I was happy I didn't fall ... When I got up, I told myself, 'You have the rest of the program -- sell it!' "