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Zhang, Bartholomay hit high notes in 'WSS' free

Ellenton-based pair wants to 'put the pressure' on top U.S. teams

Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay showed off their full potential at Liberty.
Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay showed off their full potential at Liberty. (Lynn Rutherford)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(07/23/2012) - At Liberty, Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay served notice they can contend with the best of U.S. pairs, hitting side-by-side triple toes, double Axel sequences and a throw triple Lutz in their West Side Story free skate.

"We thought it was solid, and we're definitely proud that our day-to-day training carried over to competition," Bartholomay said. "It's a pretty good score, definitely a good start for July. Our main goal was to come out and show consistency, and that's what we did."

The skaters, who teamed in May 2011 and moved to Ellenton, Fla., to train under Jim Peterson and Lyndon Johnston, also hit a throw triple Salchow and gained Level 4 on all three of their lifts as well as their pairs combination spin. Their only mistake was a slight collision on the landing of their opening triple twist, and they earned 100.95 points.

"This might be one of my favorite programs ever," Zhang said. "It's choreographed beautifully by Mr. Peterson. I think it's laid out perfectly. It has a slow piece to show our choreographic moments, and we have technical sections to hit hard."

"After nationals, I tried to find music and build programs that would capitalize on their strong athletic ability while also starting to create a softer, romantic line," Peterson said. "They've been studying the West Side Story movie as well as the amazing New York City Ballet West Side Story Suite. They will also be able to see the Broadway revival this fall when it comes to Sarasota."

For the Indy Pairs Challenge in early August, the team plans to upgrade its throw triple Salchow to a loop.

"Obviously, we want to up the technical, push the envelope a little bit to put the pressure on the higher-level teams above us at the moment," Bartholomay said. "And then we want to mainly focus on speed, being closer together on the jumps. To try to compete with the Europeans on that, it's a different league."

Stacey Kemp and David King, the seven-time British champions who also train in Ellenton, placed second with 81.71 points. Skating to a medley from British composer Edward Elgar, they landed a solid throw triple loop at the end of their program but had trouble with the landing of a triple twist.

Kemp and King, who placed 19th in the short program at the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships, are in their second season training in Florida. Previously, they trained under Mariusz Siudek in Torun, Poland, where ice time was more limited.

This season, they hope to add triple toes to their programs.

"Now we actually do jump sessions whereas in Poland and Britain, our whole career, we've never done jump sessions," King said. "In Poland, we didn't have any time to work on our jumps. We want to get a good 'catch' on the twist as well. Everyone can see where we want to improve; everyone knows."

Kylie Duarte and Colin Grafton skated a promising free to Nino Rota's Romeo and Juliet soundtrack, choreographed by Zuzanna Szwed, but fell on several elements and placed third.

"It was just one of those days," said Larry Ibarra, who coaches the team in Colorado Springs. "It's very early in the season. They have had good practices. We're going to go back and review and fix everything we need to fix."

Kloe Chanel Bautista and Tyler Harris, who train at the Skating Club of Boston, withdrew during their free skate after Bautista fell on a throw, injuring her left knee.

Liberty round-up

With all-day competitive action on two rinks at the Aston Iceworks, it's impossible to catch all the rising stars at Liberty. Here are a few highlights...

  • Brianna de la Mora and Taylor Wilson won the junior pairs free skate with 72.62 points, and coach Val Prudsky said the skaters -- who are eligible for a Junior Grand Prix assignment this fall -- plan to up their technical game by the Indy Pairs Challenge.

    "They do have a plan to do throw triple Lutz and triple twist, and it's supposed to be a double Axel, step, toe, double Axel [sequence]. We had hoped to do more here, but because of her injury a few days ago -- she hit the boards on the landing of a triple throw, and is still in some pain -- we played it a little bit safe."

  • Novice skaters Oleksiy Melnyk and Tomoki Hiwatashi, the 2012 U.S. intermediate champion, both impressed. Melnyk did six triples in his winning free skate, earning 93.87 points, while Hiwatashi won the short program and placed second in the free with sparkling spins and presentation. Skating to Die Fledermaus, the 12-year-old Hiwatashi acted out the part of a conductor, complete with tuxedo tails.

    "I almost did a clean program; I like to dance to the music a lot," he said. "I'm flexible, and I can do all the spins [including a Biellmann] and stuff."

    "He loves to skate. Basically, he lives for skating; it gives him joy and pleasure," said Hiwatashi's coach, 1985 world champion Alexander Fadeev. "He is not allowed to work on his jumps before he completes all his spins. Right now, he only does toe and Salchow in the programs, but we are working on the other triples."

  • Skating to Memoirs of a Geisha, Isadora Williams, who competes for Brazil, won senior ladies free skate group A with 87.65 points, including two triple Lutzes.

    "It was a good step here, trying out a new program at a new level," Williams' coach, Andrei Kriukov, said. "We'll get feedback and try to get better by the Junior Grand Prix, which will be Lake Placid in August. We will also compete at the Salt Lake City international senior event to try to get the world qualifying score. I think she's improving a lot, and she loves it. We're going step by step."

  • Williams' close friend and Ashburn, Va., rink mate Madison Vinci will also be in Salt Lake, competing in the junior event.

    "I think I did OK; there were definitely a couple of bumps in the program, but it was a decent skate," she said of her 80.46-point free skate to a Pasquale Camerlengo-choreographed Queen medley, which won the junior ladies final.

    Vinci's coach, Rashid Kadyrkaev, limited his skater to edge jumps at Liberty but said she will do more at her next event, the Potomac Open.

    "It's early in the season, so we're not using everything we prepared, but, overall, I'm happy for the present moment. We're going to put in a triple Lutz and a triple flip, and we may also put in a triple-triple combination."