Zhang, Bartholomay break out with 'Cocoon'

Florida pair adds daring lift to repertoire; Duarte, Grafton finish second

Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay triumphed by more than eight points.
Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay triumphed by more than eight points. (Lynn Rutherford)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(07/20/2012) - The soundtrack of Cocoon makes a perfect backdrop for Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay, since the Florida-based skaters are hoping a one-two combination of technical firepower and enhanced presentation help them break out of the U.S. pairs pack.

Thursday night, the Ellenton, Fla.,-based pair easily won the senior short program at the 2012 Liberty Summer Competition, defeating Kylie Duarte and Colin Grafton by more than eight points.

"We put out a pretty strong short program, and I think it's a great start to this season," Zhang, 18, said. "We've been training hard, and I think we showed that today."

Zhang and Bartholomay, eighth at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, opened with a triple twist and side-by-side triple toe loops, with a slight step-out from Zhang. They followed with a solid throw triple Lutz, Level 4 combination spins and a daring Level 4 lift, with an eye-catching entrance from a sweeping dance lift.

"We like this longer entry, where she's hanging upside down," said Jim Peterson, the team's coach. "It's a bit different and it literally fills the rink. We'll see how it's received as we go along because it's not [skated on] a traditional pattern."

"It's become almost as easy as our other lifts, even though the take-off is exciting," Bartholomay, 23, said. "The training kicks in."

The team plans a side-by-side sequence of two triple toes as well as double Axels in its free skate to West Side Story, and Peterson said they are also focused on improving their line and unison.

"They have been taking almost an hour of ballet a day, and we've already gotten some good feedback that their relationship on the ice is stronger," Peterson said. "For Indy [Pairs Challenge in August], they will do throw triple loop and flip in long, and the triple toes. So we're upping the technical ante a little bit and working on making everything more dynamic."

Duarte and Grafton, moving up to seniors after winning U.S. junior bronze last season, landed side-by-side triple Salchows in their short to music from Slumdog Millionaire, but lost ground when they failed to gain levels on their lift and back outside death spiral. They closed the program with an interesting straight-line step sequence, earning 40.85 points.

Zhang and Bartholomay's training partners in Ellenton, seven-time British champions Stacey Kemp and David King, hit a fine throw triple Lutz in their Amélie short, although they fell short on attempted triple toes. They placed third with 40.05. Kloe Chanel Bautista and Tyler Harris were fourth.

2012 U.S. novice bronze medalists Alexandra Shaughnessy and James Morgan, who train at Skating Club of Boston under Bobby Martin, Carrie Wall and Sheryl Franks, won the junior pairs short with a solid skate to "Harlem Nocturne," including side-by-side double Axels. They earned 39.60 points.

"We're excited; this was our first time competing this program and we did the best we could right now," Morgan, 20, said.

The team will likely add a throw triple Salchow to its programs as the season progresses.

"We wanted to keep it clean right now, but we're getting the new stuff going," Martin said, adding that Shaughnessy and Morgan plan to compete at the Indy Pairs Challenge, Cranberry Open and Middle Atlantic Figure Skating Championships later this summer.

"It's such a nice partnership. They get along so great; one of their strengths is their relationship," he said.