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.




Denver Pioneers, Nationals Preview

March 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s belated but I am glad to hear Emily Deanne Richard is alright and back in the United States, following serious injuries and subsequently successful surgeries.

Young Emily Deanne in a car fueled by all her swag.

Young Emily Deanne in a car fueled by all her swag.

This is the officially unofficial Nationals preview of the 2012-2013 Denver Pioneer Figure Skating Club team. Someone dared them to make it to Nationals by participating in only two competitions. Denver skaters did that and won them both. Next time, they’ll try to get to Nationals by participating in only one (just kidding, USFSA said that’s not possible).

Results after Regionals

Place: 10 points, First

  • Golden Bear Skate: N/A
  • Tiger Challenge: 1st place
  • Pioneer Open: 1st place

The Pioneers were the top team out West. From last year’s team that finished 6th at 2012 Intercollegiate Nationals, Professor/senior ladies Taryn Brandt graduated, while Emily, intermediate ladies Maddie Moyer and novice ladies Lena Nguyen are not competing during this collegiate season.

Wahhhh :'( Who else will show up?

Wahhhh 😥 Who else will show up?

Projected Nationals Roster (assuming no one passed any tests since last year)

  • Senior ladies Samantha David
  • Senior ladies Lisa Moore
  • Senior ladies Virginia Meyer
  • Senior ladies Erin Orchard
  • Senior ladies ice dancer Megan Marsh
  • Junior ladies Ana Sorenson
  • Junior ladies/ice dancer Sophie Fritz
  • Novice ladies Rylie Pepich
  • Novice ladies/ice dancer Sam Fenwick
  • Novice ladies Lauren Montgomery
  • Juvenile ladies/ice dancer Kailaini Smith
  • Juvenile ladies ice dancer Alicia Prince
  • Pre-juvenile ladies Andrea Frishberg
  • Preliminary ladies/Cubs fan/Grillmaster Karen Yamasaki
  • Amber Dierking
  • Kaylee Lino
  • Hannah Falvey
  • Katherine Thomas
  • Brandy Lewis
  • Taylor Stimpson
  • High team maneuvers: Samantha, Erin, Lisa (jumps and spins). Megan gets the serpentine step sequence
  • Intermediate team maneuvers: Rylie, Sam, Lauren
  • Low team maneuvers: Karen, Andrea, Alicia, Kailaini


Stray Observations

  • Denver usually wins the West because they bring out so many skaters, almost always using up their maximum of 35 entries. In 2012-13, it remains the case. We’ll see if they bring all 20 skaters or bring a little less to Hanover. It might have been the easiest thing to fix, especially after that gnarly three-way tie.
  • The team is well-rounded, top to bottom, with some skaters being involved in all facets of the collegiate competition, from one or two ice dance events, short and long programs and a level-specific team maneuver.
  • Megan Marsh will probably do gold solo or international solo against Cal’s Teressa Vellrath.
  • Every team out West have said goodbye to Denver International Airport until next year except for the Pioneers. They’ll go down about 5000 feet in altitude to hang with their skating friends in New Hampshire.
  • The Pioneers look to improve on last year’s 6th place finish, using the good luck brought forth by cameo appearances by the Taryn Brandt-Dani Schraner connection.
Can't hear you over the sound of "We just made Nationals."

Can’t hear you over the sound of “We just made Nationals.”


2013 Pioneer Open Results and Consequences

February 27, 2013 § 1 Comment

Here are some observations from the final Pacific regional competition. The absolute sure things?


  • Denver Pioneers are going to Nationals, leading the team standings with 10 points after winning the two Colorado competitions, barring any complications with their waiver request explaining why they missed the Golden Bear Skate (Page 23 of this handy dandy notebook). 
  • Laney Diggs is the senior skater to beat coming out of the West, placing first in the short and first in the championship freeskate.
  • There is a three-way tie for second place between UC Los Angeles, UC Berkeley, and University of New Mexico.
USFSA never thought they'd have to use the tiebreakers.

USFSA never thought they’d have to use the tiebreakers.

The Tiebreaker

Three teams placed second after three competitions with nine points overall. Where did they get those points? How do we solve this tie?

Let me paint you a solution.

Let me paint you a solution.


Golden Bear Skate

Tiger Challenge Pioneer Open

UC Berkeley

First (5 points) Not in top 5 (0 points) Second (4 points)

UC Los Angeles

Second (4 points) Fourth (2 points) Third (3 points)

New Mexico

Third (3 points) Second (4 points)

Fourth (2 points)

The tiebreaker that comes into play is the number of higher overall placement at all competitions. Translation: Did your team finish higher than the other teams in any of the competitions?

By virtue of Berkeley’s victory at the October Golden Bear Skate in Oakland and their performance in Denver, Berkeley is awarded second place. Between UCLA and New Mexico, UCLA placed higher in Oakland and Denver. Therefore, UCLA places third. You can proofread my math with J. Achtenberg’s calculation of the standings, updated as of 2/27/13. Your three teams representing the West: Denver, Cal, UCLA.

Storylines to look forward to going into Intercollegiate Nationals during the second weekend of April:

  • Oxygen, Do You Have It, Sucka? Mordor (Hanover), New Hampshire sits 528 feet above sea level. You probably won’t be out of breath when you walk from the entrance to the locker room (that is, if your cardio is solid). It should be a good sign for a Golden Bears team looking to improve on last year’s 4th place finish. Let’s leave the Pewter badges back in the Kanto region.
  • Additions: This will be the first trip to Intercollegiate Nationals for Matej Silecky, Sean Sunyoto, Teressa Vellrath, Amy Nguyen, Sravani Kondapavulur, and Kelsey Chan. The six, along with Janelle Unger, Samira Damavandi, Katrina Phan, Michelle Hong, Laney Diggs and maybe Jay Yostanto represent the engine that powers Cal Figure Skating for the foreseeable future.
  • Sunyotos Know They Can Dance: Cal’s Sean Sunyoto and UCLA’s Amanda Sunyoto will compete to see who is the better ice dancer in the family this season when they go head-to-head in Hanover. Sean won the dance event at Golden Bear Skate before Amanda exacted revenge at the Pioneer Open.
  • Others Think They Can Dance: Three other skaters on the team, presumably junior or senior skaters will try to grab as many points as possible by signing up for preliminary dance. It’s perfectly legal.
  • New England Mulligan: Matej Silecky is poised to make people forget his performance at Eastern Sectionals at Hyannis Port, MA by having a breakout performance at Intercollegiate Nationals. He’ll face strong competition in UCLA’s Joey Millet and Evan Bender, as well as competitors from University of Delaware and University of Dartmouth.
  • Subtraction: After Intercollegiate Nationals, Cal Figure Skating will lose two skaters, junior skater Marissa Minovitz and skater/ice dancer Hannah Benet. They’re looking at one last shot to qualify for podium at Intercollegiate Nationals.
  • High Team Maneuvers: Marissa Minovitz, Laney Diggs, and/or Sravani Kondapavulur are capable of the elements requiring a double axel and connecting steps going into a double or triple Lutz. They may need Matej Silecky and his triple axel in case the East teams or UCLA’s Joey Millet lands a triple axel. Michelle Hong has the flying spin and the combination, change-foot spins on lockdown. Senior ice dancer Teressa Vellrath replaces Katrina Phan from last year’s high team roster to put together the serpentine step sequence.

When it’s time for competition, do the nerves and the emotions spill over to the point where coaches and skaters get catty?



Will the nine best teams in the nation let their skating abilities and clutch execution do the talking?


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