Aldridge, Eaton raise 'Roof' in junior dance repeat
Hawayek, Baker sneak past McNamara, Carpenter for silver medal
|Detroit's Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton topped the field by more than 10 points. (Jay Adeff)|
"It's definitely exciting; we are two-time junior champions," Eaton, 20, said. "It's a building block for the future, and we're just really excited for all of the seasons we have to come."
Aldridge and Eaton showed good ice coverage from start to finish, flowing into and out of their elements -- including an opening straight-line lift with Aldridge using a unique flip-over entry, as well as perfectly synchronized three-part twizzles -- with speed and ease.
The skaters from Detroit Skating Club (DSC) are so well trained, they didn't fiddle around when Aldridge took an inexplicable slip as she entered their diagonal step sequence. In the blink of an eye, she was back up without missing a step.
"I tripped. I cannot tell you what happened, it was so fast," Aldridge, 18, said. "Our coaches always tell us to be reactive, because when you are out there, anything can happen. Especially in training, if you make a mistake, you have to continue so you are prepared if something like that happens in competition."
All of Aldridge and Eaton's elements, save the diagonal steps, gained Level 4, and their free dance earned 93.74 points. Overall, they scored 159.85, more than 10 points higher than the field.
Their next stop is the 2013 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Milan, Italy, where they will likely square off against a powerful Russian contingent led by world junior silver medalists Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin, as well as Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France.
"It's not about competing against other skaters; it's about you going out there and putting out two strong programs to the best of our ability," Aldridge said. "I think the way we've been training for competition has been great, and we plan on continuing [doing] strong run-through sessions. If we do that, I think we'll have great success."
Massimo Scali, who with Pasquale Camerlengo and Anjelika Krylova coaches the team at DSC, thinks the team's speed and power will serve them well in Milan.
"We are going to keep focusing on the levels, not on just the key points in the short dance, but in general," he said. "The technical aspect of ice dance is really important now. They have to be super strong and keep building their confidence and speed."
Aldridge and Eaton's training partners, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, climbed from third after the short dance to win silver with 149.74 points.
The two sprightly steppers skated with lightness and polish to the score of Singin' in the Rain, with the dapper Baker lending strong partnering throughout. An exceptionally attractive spin, strong three-part twizzle sequence and speedy rotational lift were highlights, and they earned 89.02 for the free dance and 149.74 overall.
Hawayek and Baker have skated together for just seven months. Baker's previous partner, Joylyn Yang, retired due to back problems, and he did not compete last season. He moved from Oregon to Detroit last spring to take advantage of the exceptional coaching staff and facilities.
"I'm so happy to be back into it and together with Kaitlin," Baker, 19, said.
"I think, of course, it's a goal to make the junior world team, but the first thing we thought of was to take this year to get to know each other and enjoy each other," Hawayek, 16, said. "Junior worlds would be the icing on the cake."
Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter, who train at Maryland's Wheaton Skating Academy, repeated as U.S. junior bronze medalists with a polished program to the French musical Romeo and Juliet, gaining Level 4s for their lifts, spin and twizzles. They finished with 149.74 points, losing out on silver by just 0.49 points.
"I think it's great that at only 13 and 16, we can say that for two years in a row we are bronze medalists," McNamara, 13, said. "It's great to have skated two fun, entertaining programs clean."
"We definitely think we've improved and we're glad to be able to handle more sophisticated programs," Carpenter, 16, said. "We want to be as diverse as possible. Everyone is so much better this year; we are definitely happy with our placement."
2012 novice champions Holly Moore and Daniel Klaber, the 2012 novice champions who also train at DSC, placed fourth in the free dance with their program to music from Moulin Rouge!, and were fourth overall with 141.33 points.