On 2014 Golden Bear Skate

January 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

tl;dr: Berkeley won, Denver can book their tickets to Michigan, and 3 UCs are fighting for 2 championship spots. Oh my.

The Nitty-Gritty

  • Colorado College, Colorado State University, UC Irvine, and Northern Colorado are eliminated from contention. Thanks for skating but they have no shot at competing in Adrian, Michigan at the end of the year.
  • UC Irvine and UC San Diego have college figure skating teams? Whattttttttttttttttttttttttttt?
  • Natalie McLain, Ruhan Yan, Jennifer Alfred, and Ellen Wilson put UC San Diego Figure Skating on their backs though.
  • The Sunyotos send their regards to all dance competitors.
  • Karen Yamasaki overcame bronchitis to do her thing in the preliminary ladies event. Lauren Montgomery came back from Scotland and did her short program. These two mainstays will help junior ladies skater Sophie Fritz and preliminary ladies skater Ana Sorenson lead the Denver Pioneers and overcome the transfer of Rylie Pepich.
  • Janelle Unger overcame a difficult week off the ice to take home two second-place finishes in her novice events. IN YO FACE!
  • Cal skaters who you won’t see in Adrian, Michigan: Jay Yostanto, Benjamin Yeh, Annalise Mahoney, Gina DeNatale, Katrina Phan, Kelsey Chan, and Samira Damavandi.
Frowny face.

Frowny face.

Passing of the Torch

  • UC Berkeley hosted its competition with its best ladies skater, Laney Diggs and its best ice dancer, Teressa Vellrath.
  • UC Los Angeles skated on without their top junior and senior skaters, Emily Chan and Mericien Venzon.

Because all four skaters have missed the both Tiger Challenge and Golden Bear Skate, they will not be able to skate at Intercollegiate Nationals. These four 4th year skaters have one more chance at the Pioneer Open in Denver, Colorado to clinch Intercollegiate Nationals berths and tie up their intercollegiate skating careers. Best of luck to these ladies on their studies of their final semester.

So who do the four ladies seamlessly pass the torch to?



UC Los Angeles

Pre-existing core: Joey Millet, Evan Bender, Sarah Palaich, Colorado native Maddison Bullock, and Amanda Sunyoto

Alumna/team supporter: Coral Chou


  • Jillian Campbell
  • Evelyn Karin
  • Carol Lin
  • Tyler Vollmer
  • Adrian Siew
  • Ai Ohno
  • Elizabeth Miller
  • Sarah Stegman-Wise
  • Sara Villalon
  • Collette Del Poso
  • Rachelle Santos
  • Amanda Smith
  • Ashley Pournamdari
  • Courtney Cruz

UC Berkeley

Pre-existing core: Sean Sunyoto, Matej Silecky, President Michelle Hong, Team Captain Janelle Unger, Kelsey Chan, Amy Nguyen and Sravani Kondapavulur.

Alumnae/coaches: Marissa Minovitz, Dani Schraner


  • Aditya Nandy
  • Kathleen Albert
  • Sara Billman
  • Audrey Phone-Chen
  • Audrey Tan
  • Kirsten Flores
  • Claudia Nguyen
  • Maryssa Ziegler
  • Elizabeth Zeng
  • Anneliese Tung

Most of the newcomers for both UC Los Angeles and UC Berkeley have skated for a long time but the nerves are still there. The last thing you want to do is to tell them “Have fun!” just before the longest 2 to 4 minutes of their lives. In the meantime…


      1. Cal
      2. Denver
      3. UC Los Angeles
      4. UC San Diego
      5. Colorado State University
      6. Menlo College/Colorado College

By virtue of their 2nd place finish in Oakland and their 1st place finish in Colorado Springs, Denver has 9 points. It’s mathematically impossible for them to host a competition at Joy Burns Arena, bring their entire team and somehow not make Intercollegiate Nationals in Adrian, Michigan.

Because Cal placed 1st, UC Los Angeles missed 2nd by 0.5 points, and UC San Diego placed 4th, we have three Universities of California with 6 points. Well, shit. If Denver has one championship spot locked up, that leaves two spots for three Universities of California.

My guess for the Pioneer Open? Denver wins while UC Berkeley and UC Los Angeles take UC San Diego’s lunch money and the remaining championship spots. I may have spoiled much of the 2014 Pioneer Open in Denver for you, but it doesn’t mean the last Pacific regional of the year is any less exciting.




2013 Denver Pioneer Open Preview

December 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

What could you do with an incomplete description of someone? If someone put my name somewhere and right below it, it said “I like to figure skate” (I do) and “I like Taylor Swift’s music” (I totally do), I bet you wouldn’t hesitate to call me…


A weird 22 year old man with weird tastes. That’s still an incomplete first impression of me that you have gathered and if you stand by it, cool. You’re just making an ass out of u and me if you assume that I have terrible taste in music and and sports though. Similarly, it’s tough to preview the last Pacific regional collegiate competition of the season with little to no information out there.

With a month left to register for USFSA membership (100 for 4 years if you’re in college or grad school, 40 for first time registration) and register for this last region competition (deadline is 1/24), you have awhile to pick up some jumps, spins, footwork and endurance between now and February. But if you’d like to save money on the effort to become a competitive figure skater, fly to Denver Intl., stay at a hotel or rent a car from Enterprise, I get you.

Prayers and thoughts are with Denver skater Emily Deanne as she makes her way back from her student-exchange program in Italy. Meanwhile, her Lady Pioneer teammates have competed in only the Tiger Challange so far, making it imperative for them to bring the entire team in order to secure another Nationals berth. Their team website says they won the Tiger Challenge by 50 points (~10 1st place finishes), which is not surprising if UCLA, New Mexico and your Cal Golden Bears bring about 4-8 skaters each. Competition chair and president Rylie Pepich, VP Lauren Montgomery, Treasurer Sam David and Secretary Erin Orchard, the cabinet members of Denver Club Figure Skating look forward to hosting the annual Pioneer Open again.

Who will join the Lady Pioneers on the ice at Joy Burns Arena? Maybe Colorado State? Colorado College? No idea. I’m just going to assume no one has clinched a berth to Nationals yet, making the Pioneer Open important for all participating teams. Denver has 3 points from their Tiger Challenge victory, Cal has 3 and UCLA 2 from the October’s Golden Bear Skate in Oakland.

Kruk likes the sound of that.

Kruk likes the sound of that.

Chelsea Erven, Krista Keay, Josh Coleman, Romilly Tsinhnahjinnie and the New Mexico Lobos will make the six hour roadtrip from Albuquerque to Denver for the last regional. They received one point from their overall third-place finish in Oakland, looking to bring up to five skaters in the club’s first year of existence. They have the strong foundation in free skate and ice dancing in order to compete in the future.

For UCLA, whether or not super skaters Emily Chan, Maddison Bullock or Mericien Venzon actually skate, Joey Millet, Evan Bender, Coral Chou, Sarah Palaich and Amanda Sunyoto will help pace the Bruins towards their attempt to secure the first trip to Nationals in club history. Good luck, Bears in powder blue.

For Ohlone College, no word on whether St. Moritz skater Samantha Lew will make the trip out to Denver to skate this one out.

Finally, your Cal Golden Bears. Marissa Minovitz and Janelle Unger are the only two Golden Bears who have finished their two-regional requirement to qualify for Nationals. Meanwhile, Sean Sunyoto, Katrina Phan, Michelle Hong, Kelsey Chan, Alex Lin, Laney Diggs, Matej Silecky, Gina DeNatale, Hannah Benet, Sravani Kondapavulur, Teressa Vellrath, Samira Damavandi, and Kathryn Poniatowski look to skate in their second regional competition in order to also get to Nationals. It guarantees a good chance to use up most of Cal’s 35 entries, secure a berth to Nationals, and a trip to Hanover, NH, where they will look to improve on last year’s 4th place finish at last year’s Intercollegiate Nationals.

Your three Intercollegiate Nationals teams out west: Cal, UCLA, Denver. Hmm… SFO, BOS, LEB? I’ve never flew Cape Air before…

Oppan championship style.

Oppan championship style.

Shoutouts to young alumni Danielle Schraner, Tanya Shaby, Mark Bernardo and Professor Taryn Brandt.


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