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New-look Canadians win senior short at Indy

Zhang, Bartholomay second; Davis, Ladwig impress with solid elements

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch put their intricate short program on display.
Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch put their intricate short program on display. (Jacque Tiegs)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(08/04/2012) - After a disappointing fourth-place finish at the 2012 Canadian Figure Skating Championships left them off Canada's world team, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch thought some changes were in order.

"Sometimes you have to take a bump to come back to where you ought to be," was how their coach, Kris Wirtz, put it.

So the 2011 Canadian champions, who placed eighth at the world championships that season, worked with their coaches and choreographer, Vancouver-based Mark Pillay, to create a fresh new look. The result: an intricate, sophisticated short program to a Parisian Waltz.

"It's different -- it's a lot harder," Moore-Towers said. "After our nationals, we sort of had to regroup and try some different things, and we're always trying to grow as a team. We all talked about what we wanted our look to be this year, and I think this short is a good vehicle to grow with."

The skaters, who won Skate Detroit last week, turned out a polished and speedy program here at the 2012 Indy Pairs Challenge, complete with hints of humor and lots of choreographic detail.

Although Moore-Towers turned out of a triple toe and reached forward on the landing of a big throw triple loop, their other elements -- including a huge opening triple twist, a lift from a lunge position and a death spiral from a difficult spiral entrance -- were solid, and they gained Level 4 on their step sequence to earn 56.49 points.

"Kristy [Wirtz] and I envisioned this season that their elements would appear in the program, not be the whole program," said Kris Wirtz, who coaches the team in Kitchener-Waterloo with wife Kristy. "I'm not worried about a little thing here or there; I'm worried about how things meld and how the program works.

"The problem with getting out early in the season is at home you're firing it perfect, but this team has so much power and energy, you have to harness that a little."

"There are definitely some intricacies in the program," Moscovitch said. "It's gotten faster and smoother over time. It was definitely tricky at first. It still has a lot of room to grow, and we will grow into it as the season goes along."

After strong performances at the Liberty Summer Competition earlier this month, Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay had another solid short to the Cocoon soundtrack, landing crisp triple toes and gaining plus marks for their "hand-to-hand" group lift with an entrance from a low dance lift and sweeping drop exit.

Zhang turned out of the landing of the throw triple Lutz, but the team gained 51.27 points to take second.

"It's been a strong program for us so far this season," Bartholomay said. "Technically, it wasn't perfect -- we would have liked to perform it better -- but it was another good step for us."

"I love the soft qualify of the music. It really highlights what I can do, and we've been working on our [program] components as a team," Zhang said. "We have more connection, and I think the music brings it all together. It's an improvement, score-wise, over Liberty, so we we're happy about that."

Lindsay Davis and Mark Ladwig, who train alongside Zhang and Bartholomay in Ellenton, Fla., had a strong short to an instrumental version of OneRepublic's "Secrets," highlighted by solid opening triple Salchows, an impressive lift and intricate steps.

They earned 49.86 points for third place.

"I felt like it was a really good short program we put out there today, especially since we've been together just two months," Davis said. "We're looking for consistency and to put out nice, clean programs we can improve on toward nationals. I feel like we're melding really well as a team and just improving every day."

"I feel really good about our preparations the last two months, and we put a lot of execution on stuff we've been practicing today," Ladwig said. "The lift was the newest thing for us -- she does a falling leaf into the hand-to-hand hold, and I go straight up to a glide. It took some time to develop and, thankfully, we got good speed on it today."

Ladwig, who previously teamed with Amanda Evora for 10 years and two U.S. silver medals, gave tribute to his now retired partner.

"I'm thankful for the years I had skating with Amanda, which have made me able to skate with Lindsay and us to come together really well," he said. "Lindsay is a great skater in her own right, and she and Amanda have different strengths, and I've been very fortunate."

"Mark and Amanda's career gave him so much experience that it only helps me on a day-to-day basis," Davis said.

Gretchen Donlan and Andrew Speroff, fourth at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, opened their elegant program to "Nocturne" from The Lady Caliph soundtrack ("[Elena] Berezhnaya and [Anton] Sikharulidze have always been my favorite team, and I was always down for skating to that music," Speroff said.) with a huge triple twist. Although Donlan turned out of the triple toe, they gained credit for fully rotating the jumps.

They failed to gain a level on the death spiral, but their final move, the lift, covered half the ice surface, and the Boston-based team earned 49.72 for fourth place.

"Tanith Belbin did a lot of the footwork. She came to Boston and worked with a lot of our coach Bobby Martin's students, and she had fantastic input," Speroff said. "[The program] has been in a developing process with our team, and it finally came to what it is now a week and a half ago."

Donlan was also pleased with their season's start.

"I was excited about [rotating] the triple toe. I was happy," she said. "Little things like the [combination] spin, I wish it was like we usually do it, but it was good for the first competition. I feel this program has so much potential."