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Braemar breaks through again for junior crown

Skyliners bring home another silver; Lexettes capture bronze, Chicago Jazz pewter

Team Braemar topped the field in both segments en route to another U.S. junior title.
Team Braemar topped the field in both segments en route to another U.S. junior title. (Jay Adeff)

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By Josh Ellis, special to icenetwork.com
(03/01/2013) - They had nothing to lose, and they didn't.

Team Braemar led after Thursday's short program and sealed the junior championship at the 2013 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships with a first-place finish in the free skate Friday. They earned a total of 173.26 points for the competition and claimed the top prize.

Finishing a distant third at last month's World Junior Team Selection Competition in Fraser, Mich., the competition which determined the two teams that would represent Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships in Finland next week, Team Braemar came into this event with a fresh mindset, which helped them to gold.

"We had nothing to lose," coach Pam May said. "That's an easier position to be in, but we just wanted to prove that we were at the same caliber."

The team, which represents the Braemar-City of Lakes FSC, earned nearly 40 more points at this event than they did last month, and it was all about skating consistently and putting together two strong performances.

"I feel like they did it," said May about skating consistently this week. "I feel they pulled from within and really gave it their all. They really came through when it counted and got it done."

Skating to Cleopatra in a costume designed by May herself, Team Braemar earned not only the top score for their elements, but for their components as well. Each of the team's nine elements earned a positive grade of execution (GOE) and their Level 4 wheel was the event's top-scoring element, earning 7.64 points.

"We finally feel like all of our hard work has paid off," said Taylor May, the team captain and coach's daughter. "We had zero expectations coming into this event and we skated the best we could, and it just happened to be enough."

In second place, but heading to the 2013 World Junior Championships next week, were the Skyliners with 170.05 points. They finished in second place in both segments of the competition, and coach Josh Babb was optimistic about his team.

"I feel much better about today than I did yesterday," Babb said. "Although I saw some technical issues, I thought the performance was there."

Skating to West Side Story, the Skyliners received positive GOEs on each of their nine elements, including more than seven points on both their Level 4 wheel and Level 4 line.

After the short program, Babb emphasized the importance of peaking at the right time -- next week during the World Junior Championships -- and those sentiments still rang true after the free skate.

"I feel we did a good job here, but I think there's a lot left in the tank for next week, which is what we have been working for all season," Babb said.

In third place, but also headed to Finland as one of Team USA's entries in the world junior championships were the Lexettes of the Hayden Recreation Centre FSC with 152.12 points.

Like the Skyliners, the U.S. championships are not the end of the road for the Boston-based team, and it was apparent in both coach Saga Krantz's comments and post-skate actions that was the case.

After the Lexettes came off the ice, Krantz had a long chat with her team, emphasizing what needs to be done next week. She was, however, pleased with the performance today.

"I think there is something very special about this group," Krantz said. "They skate so beautifully, and although I know there is more in them, I am still very happy."

In fourth place, fifth after the short program, were Chicago Jazz, who skated their Snow White free skate to the pewter medal and 141.94 points.

The finish by Chicago Jazz ensured that each of the four medalists defended the same color medal that they received at this event last year.