On Midseason Previews: 2014-15 UCLA Bruins

December 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

The United States Figure Skating Association’s Intercollegiate regular season is one-third of the way done for Pacific Division teams. Schools from California and Colorado made their way through I-70 to Edora Pool and Ice Center (EPIC) in Fort Collins to see if they could make their Intercollegiate Nationals dreams come true. It’s University of Denver, Colorado State, and University of California, San Diego who are the closest to booking their flights to the San Francisco Bay Area for some postseason glory. Lurking within striking distance are the University of California, Berkeley and University of Colorado, Boulder. Where art thou, UCLA and DO WE START FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW?

UCLA Bruins

Season Standings: Tied for 6th place with Colorado College and University of Northern Colorado, with 0 points

The real figure skaters of Westwood come back home from Denver empty-handed, edged out by pioneers, bears, rams, buffaloes and sea deities. They do get credit for sending skaters to EPIC so they don’t get a stern talking to from Katherine Specht and the USFS Collegiate Committee.

The Bruins are stoked not only to come back to final examinations and $1.75 Diddy Riese ice cream sandwiches, but also to the low altitude of Southern California, where it reportedly makes a difference to breathe and skate at 500 feet above sea level, instead of 5000 feet.

Stoked. Gruntled. Por qué no los dos?

Stoked. Gruntled. Por qué no los dos?

These may not be your older brother’s Bruins though, as the Core 4 of Joey Millet, Maddison Bullock, Mericien Venzon, and Emily Chan, plus junior college transfer Amanda Sunyoto and team mom Coral Chou sort out their post-undergraduate lives. Best of luck to their skating, their modeling and singing, their graduate school, their life endeavors. Let’s take a look at the new Core 4 or Core … 10.

2014-15 Roster

  • Tyler Vollmer, ice dance
  • Adrian Siew, free skate
  • Evan Bender, free skate
  • Ai Ohno, free skate
  • Sarah Palaich, ice dance and free skate
  • Jillian Campbell, free skate
  • Evy Karin, free skate
  • Therese Vesagas, free skate
  • Julia Feng, free skate
  • Patricia McNeil, free skate
  • Marisa Goff, ice dance
  • More members to follow once the competitions in San Diego and Denver roll around

Sunyoto Sibling Rivalry No More

Raise your beverage in remembrance of Amanda and her younger sibling, Cal’s Sean Sunyoto. This will be the first time since Amanda transferred from Cerritos College that the Sunyotos won’t be ice dancing against each other. Rather than arguments or fights though, you instead saw one trying to teach the other how to do certain ice dances five minutes before they were scheduled to compete, you saw them supporting each other on and off the ice, and you saw them symbolizing the connection made between Berkeley and LA’s figure skating teams. As Sean finishes his last year of undergraduate eligibility, the siblings will turn their sights toward starting dental school, telling people to floss, and beyond.

X-Factor

There’s Tyler Vollmer, who can ice dance pretty darn well and take advantage of the bonus points that come with competing at the international dance events. It could be Sarah Palaich, whose versatility in the novice free skate and her ice dancing can earn the team much needed points.

I’m still leaning towards sophomore Ai Ohno as the one who wills the team to the postseason. Skating up from novice to junior this year, the team will rely on her clean skates to keep up with everyone else.

California Love

Deadline for Pacific Division teams to sign up for the January 24th Ride the Tide Competition, hosted by University of California, San Diego is December 17th. It’s a three hour drive or a half-hour flight from LA to San Diego, so the Bruins will be skating not too far from home, which is nice. If UCLA can place in the top 3 in January’s competition, they won’t have to worry about not making Nationals.

thefigureskatinglawyer

On UCLA and Cal at Nationals

April 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

Sorry, totally failed on imparting any figure skating wisdom before and during the Olympics. Let’s do a quick rundown for two of the colleges representing the West Coast (best coast) at this year’s US Figure Skating Intercollegiate Nationals in Adrian, Michigan.

Wait, what do you mean Cal and UCLA have figure skating teams?

Wait, what do you mean Cal and UCLA have figure skating teams?

UC Los Angeles

  • 3rd place at Tiger Challenge
  • 3rd place at Golden Bear Skate
  • 3rd place at Pioneer Open

UCLA, 2nd runner-up in the Pacific Region makes its second straight appearance at Intercollegiate Nationals, this year at the expense of a small but scrappy UC San Diego Skating club team. Too many Universities of California, far too few spots. Next time, UC San Diego. *patpat*

Who Leads The Team

thefigureskatinglawyer wishes Godspeed to Mericien Venzon and Emily Marie Chan, both big reasons why UCLA Figure Skating exists at Westwood and why UCLA has made its presence known on the national stage. That said, it’s up to Colorado native Maddison Bullock and Spokane, WA skater Joey Millet to lead the team to success.

Supporting those core leaders in the freeskate and dance events are senior Amanda Sunyoto, junior skater and SF Bay Area kid Evan Bender, and newcomer Ai Ohno. Good luck as well to Adrian Siew, Jillian Campbell, Therese Vesagas and Sarah Palaich and shoutout to team mom, Coral Chou.

#sunYOLO

Hey, speaking of Amanda Sunyoto, this is probably the last intercollegiate competition of her career before she graduates. It’s also the last chance to establish superiority over her kid brother, Sean Sunyoto, who may end his undergraduate skating career early to focus on his pre-dental studies. Who’s winning in the lifelong sibling rivalry? Well, that’s a tough one. Moving on before I get in trouble.

ohno, nononoYES

It’s pretty well-known that Joey Millet and Evan Bender will get UCLA their points in the junior men’s events, as well as play big parts in the high team maneuvers. Maddison Bullock will go ahead and give it her best at the senior freeskate but also on her dance events. Not sure where you’ll find Amanda Sunyoto during the competition? Look for her competing in the senior championship and senior dance events.

The X-factor you should keep your eye out for is freshman and novice skater Ai Ohno. She faces stiff competition from the East Region teams, including Dartmouth freshman and novice skater Maddy Thornton, but if her regional performances are indication of anything, it’s that Ohno’s clean skates (no falls, all top-2 finishes) will put tremendous pressure on the rest of field.

***

UCLA flies out of LAX and get into DTW Friday night. The Bruins have all weekend to drop the powder blue smackdown on its competition.

Anna Kendrick's excited. Are you excited?

Anna Kendrick’s excited. Are you excited?

UC Berkeley

  • 5th place at Tiger Challenge
  • 1st place at Golden Bear Skate
  • 2nd place at Pioneer Open

Cal, first runner-up in the Pacific Region makes their annual trip to Intercollegiate Nationals. Yay, Golden Bears.

Who Leads The Team

The Golden Bears had to scramble after Laney Diggs and Teressa Vellrath retired from intercollegiate skating. The team is also without ice dancers Kelsey Chan (not enough competitions) and Samira Damavandi (studying abroad in the UK). thefigureskatinglawyer sends his regards to Song King, Annaleigh Yahata, Jay Yostanto, Gina DeNatale and Katrina Phan. Seriously though, the team will be without Diggs and Vellrath, who earned a significant amount of points for Cal last year at Nationals.

Freak the fuck out.

Drop everything and freak the fuck out.

Team captain Janelle Unger and team president Michelle Hong take on the task of replacing Laney Diggs and Teressa Vellrath. Sara Billman, Sravani Kondapavulur, Amy Nguyen, Kirsten Flores, Audrey Tan, Audrey Phone-Chen, Matej Silecky, Aditya Nandy and Sean Sunyoto will assist Janelle and Michelle in figuring out how to improve on last year’s 4th place finish. Bless the hosts for providing Matej, Aditya and Sean their own locker room. God forbid they ruin the sanctity of figure skating should anybody see them changing.

New Leaders

UC Berkeley loses Katrina Phan, Michelle Hong, Sravani Kondapavulur, Janelle Unger and Sean Sunyoto to graduation next year. The team still has two cornerstone pieces to build around and keep Cal relevant for the rest of this decade. That said, US junior champion Matej Silecky and senior ladies Sara Billman will take on the bulk of the leadership during the rest of their time at Cal. Their broad network of skating friends and their strong presence at team competitions and events will make Cal known to Sara and Matej’s respective hometowns of Palo Alto/Silicon Valley and Verona, NJ. Yay, baby Golden Bears!

 New Head Coach

Head coach Dani Schraner is taking care of business in San Antonio, TX so the team added alumna Marissa Minovitz to the coaching staff.

***

Cal Figure Skating leaves the Bay Area from SFO/OAK Friday morning and arrives in DTW Friday afternoon. Have fun, everybody.

Young Carl Fredricksen's excited. Are you?

Young Carl Fredricksen’s excited. Do you have much excite?

thefigureskatinglawyer

On the 2013 Tiger Challenge: Postmortem

October 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

If the 2013 Tiger Challenge is running on time, there’s about 15 minutes left of events in the first Pacific regional competition. Da Bears brought four to Colorado Springs while the rest of the team takes care of midterms, Sectionals training, and… not wanting to fly to the high altitude of Colorado just yet. You four ladies are good girls and you know it.

Team Captain Janelle Unger with new additions Kristen Flores, Sara Billman and Audrey Tan. Hey, Coach Minovitz!

The four ladies fulfill half of their 2 required regionals quota, while also helping the team show up to the first of 3 competitions. Not showing up to one of the competitions is a big no-no in college competitions, so good on the ladies for not leaving it up to college competition chairs Kristin Zinsmeister and Cal FS alumnus Katie Specht to determine the team’s postseason fate.

From the looks of the schedule, the figure skating gods were nice to Janelle Unger this year, making sure she skated at a reasonable time of 10:45 AM. It beats skating at 7:30 in the morning, you know? Also, Sara Billman skates in her first intercollegiate competition, taking on integral roles in the senior short and championship freeskates. Audrey and Kristen are going to skate their events and get the team some points in their individual and maybe the Intermediate Team Event. Maybe Coach Minovitz can convince everybody she still skates for the team…

Da Standings

University of Denver, despite not hosting the competition will still have home-field advantage as they send 20+ girls to Honnen Ice Arena. Colorado College hosts the competition but they’re bringing a small team. The Powder Blue Men Group led by Joey Millet and Evan Bender won’t bring everyone but have enough firepower to place in the top-3. Colorado State will bring a decent amount of ladies from Fort Collins down I-70 towards a strong showing in the standings, but not if New Mexico finishes their six-hour drive from Albuquerque and have a say about that.

Here’s an educated guess of where everybody ranks after the first competition.

1. Denver Pioneers

2. UCLA Bruins

3. Colorado State

4. New Mexico

5. Da Bears

6. Colorado College

Da Outlook

Welp, your California Golden Bears start on the bottom and don’t plan on staying there. They look to dominate the competition they’ll host in Oakland, as well as the competition in Denver. There are at least 10 skaters who need to skate in the last two competitions just so they can skate at Championships. The team itself will be alright if they can win both competitions.

Maybe. Ladies, just be safe on I-70 and hold on, you’re going home.

thefigureskatinglawyer

What Can Powder Blue Do For You?

March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

2013 will mark the first year that a University of California, other than its flagship Berkeley campus, is making an appearance at Intercollegiate Nationals. If it weren’t for the meddling Berkeley skaters, University of California, Los Angeles would have been at Nationals a year earlier.

Not this year! Ha ha ha!

Not this year, New Mexico! Ha ha ha!

Results after Regionals

Place: 9 points, Third (lost tiebreaker for second place to Berkeley, won tiebreaker for third place)

  • Golden Bear Skate: 2nd place
  • Tiger Challenge: 4th place
  • Pioneer Open: 3rd place

If super skaters Emily Chan and 2009 Philippines ladies champ Mericien Venzon did not qualify for Nationals, who will lead the UCLA cheers in Hanover, New Hampshire?

Time to get your game faces on.

Time to get your game faces on.

Projected Nationals Roster

  • Senior ladies Coral Chou
  • Junior men’s Joey Millet
  • Junior men’s Evan Bender
  • Senior ladies/ice dancer Amanda Sunyoto
  • Therese Vesagas
  • Alejandra Acosta
  • Senior ladies/ice dancer Maddison Bullock
  • Novice ladies/ice dancer Sarah Palaich
  • High team maneuvers: JoeyEvanAmandaMaddison

It’s going to be Maddison, Amanda, and Coral doing the senior ladies short, with Coral probably joining Cal’s Michelle Hong doing the regular free skate, while Maddison and Amanda trying for the extra two points in the championship free skate against their friends Sravani and Laney. Between that, Amanda takes on her younger brother Sean in the senior ice dance event. How comfortable are you two with the Killian? Spokane (Spokane, WA) FSC’s Joey and Peninsula (San Jose, CA) FSC’s Evan say hello to Skating Club of New York’s Matej in the junior men’s short and championship free skate. Maddison has the novice European Waltz and Sarah joining Gina DeNatale doing the juvenile dance Cha Cha.

Not sure what role(s) Therese and Alejandra will play but they’ve learned from their mistakes made in October in Golden Bear Skate. UCLA won’t put a team in intermediate team maneuvers and in the event they do, they won’t put a junior or senior skater on there.

You know, because they disqualify your intermediate team if you do that.

You know, because they disqualify your intermediate team if you do that.

Stray Observations

  • If Maddison Bullock does participate in Intercollegiate Nationals, it’s not quite the homecoming she’s looking for. Before it shifted to green pastures of Hanover, Nationals was held in Colorado Springs, a short distance away from home for the Colorado native. Those meddling Golden Bears.
  • Dartmouth (green) and Delaware (blue) have strong grips on two berths to Nationals, with Boston University (red/white) trying to fend off Sacred Heart U (red/white) and NYU (purple). Four teams have emerged for three spots: University of Michigan (maize and blue), University of Miami (Ohio) (red/white), University of Wisconsin-Madison (cardinal/white), and the Adrian College (black and gold). Out West, you have the Denver Pioneers (crimson/gold) and UC Berkeley Golden Bears (Yale blue/California gold). Yet in an Intercollegiate Nationals first, UCLA will be the first college to sport powder blue.
  • The Bruins look like they have a decent recruiting pipeline to continue getting skaters. Skaters from St. Moritz (Oakland/Dublin), Peninsula (San Jose), All Year (Carson City), Los Angeles (Artesia), Spokane (Spokane), and San Francisco Figure Skating Clubs may choose UCLA as their destination school and help get UCLA Figure Skating to the next level.
  • What would UCLA star freshman/basketball player Shabazz Muhammad do?
Shabazz would follow his dreams.

Shabazz would follow his dreams.

thefigureskatinglawyer

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