Young Stars in the Rocky Mountainsby Laura Fawcett
|Kate McDermott and Colin McManus|
Photo by David Schiff of Digital Specialties
(12/2/05) - Hundreds of young skaters have converged on Westminster, Colo., for the 2006 U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships, hosted by the Rocky Mountain FSC. The U.S. Junior Championships are the pinnacle of success for U.S. juvenile and intermediate skaters. Placement at the nine regional championships, held in October, determine advancement to the championships.
Wednesday and Thursday consisted mostly of qualifying rounds for all eight events. Placement in qualifying determines whether or not a skater advances to the final round.
The juvenile dancers took center stage Thursday night for the first final round event as they skated their compulsory dances, the Fiesta Tango and Fourteenstep. They will conclude their portion of the competition Saturday with the free dance.
Kate McDermott, 16, and Colin McManus, 15, of the SC of Boston, won both dances in front of an enthusiastic Rocky Mountain crowd. McDermott and McManus have only been skating together since March of 2005. She previously danced with another partner, but McManus was a singles skater, qualifying for last year's U.S. Junior Championships in intermediate men.
“We enjoy skating with each other,” said McManus, who added that the couple were just hoping to make it out of the qualifying round. “We really push each other.”
Former World Junior ice dancing champion Justin Pekarek and co-coach Hilary Gibbons direct the duo's training.
“It's great to work with Justin,” McManus said. “He's been through all of it before, and he's done a lot. He's a great role model.”
Their free dance is set to a tango, and McManus said that Pekarek and Gibbons thought the dramatic feel of the tango would suit their look – both McDermott and McManus are tall and dark-haired.
Second place went to Kirsten Seagers and Nicholas Taylor of the SC of Wilmington, while the brother and sister duo of Taylor Elliott, 15, and Zachary Elliott, 13, finished third.
Wearing bright colors in both dances, it was obvious in their performances what they both liked most about ice dancing.
“We love putting on a show,” Taylor said.
“We like to think when we go out there it's like halftime entertainment,” added Zachary. “We're really having fun.”
The Elliotts have a unique problem in that Taylor has a height advantage over her younger brother. But both agree that they have successfully found ways to work around the difference.
“He's always stepped up to the plate,” Taylor said. “I'm so proud of him, and I love working with him … it's like having a built-in partner (working with her brother). I wouldn't have it any other way.”
“We've risen up,” Zachary said. “We're becoming the team we've always wanted to be.
Saturday's free dance will be a crowd-pleaser with their up-tempo number to “Footloose.”
Jordan Sisson and Erik Kaiser (Rocky Mountain FSC) are in fourth after finishing fourth in the first dance and sixth in the second. Laura Donnelly and Matt McAvoy of the Champlain Valley SC were fourth in the second dance.