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.




thefigureskatinglawyer goes way, WAY inside Golden Bear Skate 2012

September 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Clancy Pendergast’s men could not contain Braxton Miller and the Ohio State Buckeyes and Stanford did dirty things to University of Southern California’s offensive line. But in the end, my focus was on Cal Figure Skating this weekend.

Meghan Markle, not impressed with your lack of knowledge about Cal’s skating team.

The Golden Bears overcame the early registration date, broken skates, following the wrong beat in dance, doing wrong things in dance and overall goofiness to win this year’s edition of the Golden Bear Skate. UC Berkeley jumps to an early points lead in the regionals standing with three points, with Nationals-hopeful UCLA in second with two points and University of New Mexico, in its first year existence in third with one.

Someone give this kid a shovel because he diggs this victory.

Early drama followed the teams that say “bears” differently as the competition opened up with high and intermediate low team maneuvers. Rumor has it that the screws holding the blade to junior skater Matej Silecky‘s boot got loose, making it really hard to land the triple/double-double lutz combination, one of the six required elements in high team. Overall, the judges liked the UCLA team’s performance better, awarding them first place. After a break in which Skate St. Moritz, the local competition took over both sides of the rink, intermediate team maneuvers followed. The Bears (Janelle Unger, Kathryn Poniatowski, Amy Nguyen) score a victory via the disqualification of the Bruins team (Sarah Palaich, Alejandra Acosta, Therese Vesagas) for using a skater who has tested too high.

Oh shit.

The score within the competition so far: UC Berkeley 3, UCLA 3. Including warm-ups, 5 hours down, 10 to go.


The early registration deadline date affected many teams, including the Golden Bears. Some skaters did not have their long programs ready or the dance patterns entirely practiced but the team enjoyed their contributions regardless as the Golden Bears have time to fine-tune things before the Tiger Challenge on Oct. 27th.

For UCLA, those taking the final summer session courses have a week left to enjoy their summer before their fall quarter begins. The make-up of the team looked drastically different without notable junior skater Emily Chan and senior skater Mericien Venzon. Senior skater Evan Bender, senior skater Coral Chou, senior skater/ice dancer Amanda Sunyoto (older sibling of Cal sophomore Sean Sunyoto), graduate student Sarah Palaich, stalwart Joey Millet took on the unenviable task of going up against a really large Cal Figure Skating team.

Skaters from the University of Denver Pioneers and Colorado State Rams did not make the trip out to see the California girls (and Sean and Matej), making the upcoming Tiger Challenge and Pioneer Open (February 24th) a much more interesting logjam for points to qualify for Nationals in New Hampshire. Rylie Pepich, Maddie Moyer, Lena Nguyen, Karen Yamasaki, Lauren Montgomery, Cal FSC will see you ladies soon.

Three skaters from the University of New Mexico Figure Skating Club drove 18 hours since Friday morning out from Albuquerque to Oakland Ice. Impressive. Look for them to make the easier 6-hour drive to Colorado Springs and Denver for the next two competitions.


thefigureskatinglawyer got around to Oakland Ice shortly before the warm-up to the juniors ladies short program, as Cal skaters Gina DeNatale and Marissa Minovitz started off the individual events of the competition. DeNatale’s clean (from my point of view) skate was ultimately bested by Minovitz’s skate to an instrumental of The Eagles’ “Hotel California.” Oh well, five points for Cal. Junior men’s short program followed the ladies. Silecky had his skates fixed between the high team maneuvers and his event, fell on his triple axel attempt but landed a triple flip. Despite a rocky start to his intercollegiate debut, it was a great skate for him as he becomes a part of the future in Cal Figure Skating. Millet had trouble with a couple of the jumps but placed ahead of Silecky, while his teammate Bender took first with a cleaner routine.

The senior ladies short showcased skaters Laney DiggsSravani Kondapavulur (Yiruma’s “A River Flows In You”), Katrina Phan and UCLA’s Chou and Sunyoto. Rounding out the group of six was St. Moritz coach/member and skater Samantha Lew of Ohlone College. The standings: 1) Laney, 2) Sravani, 3) Coral, 4) Amanda, 5) Samantha, 6) Katrina. Cal receives nine points, five for Diggs’ first place finish and four for Kondapavulur’s second place result.

Memory’s a little hazy but no Cal skater participated in men’s preliminary freeskate. Congrats to Cal’s Janelle Unger for placing first in the ladies intermediate short program.

After five events, Golden Bears, 20. Bruins, 13. Lobos, 1. Ohlone College, 1.


Sean Sunyoto, sorry you missed your SLC mock Chemistry 3B midterm, buddy. If it makes you feel any better. You won junior and senior solo dances. I don’t think your sister will tell you how any of the introductions to the dance events will go anymore, bro. Samira Damavandi, always a kick-ass senior ice dancer placed third after the Kilian and Blues patterns and looks to improve on those standings in the next competitions.

Hannah Benet, strong showing in the preliminary solo dance event, despite an inadvertent chasse somewhere in there. You rocked.

Teressa Vellrath, thefigureskatinglawyer had no idea how good of an ice dancer you are. Coached by ice dancer and Salt Lake Olympian Beata Handra, Vellrath destroyed the Gold solo dance patterns, took about a 20 minute breather as seniors took the ice and had enough energy left to destroy the International solo dance patterns. Congratulations to her on great performances and best of luck to her when the challenge of high altitude is factored into the next competitions.


Just like that, thefigureskatinglawyer had to leave the rink to reach his great-grandmother’s 98th birthday dinner later that evening. Swag lady, that she is. He missed the intermediate, junior, senior ladies freeskates, as well as the junior men’s, junior ladies’ and senior ladies’ championship freeskates. Rumor has it that Michelle Hong, Alex Lin, Laney, Sravani, Matej and Marissa all did well.

John Harbaugh is digg-ing all of it. Not sure about Jim Schwartz though.

Felt good to come out and support Cal Figure Skating. If you didn’t come down to Oakland Ice today, you missed out on some good skating. Y U NO COME OUT WHEN YOU SAY YOU WANT TO WATCH FIGURE SKATING?!


Giants, Premature Magic Numbers, Golden Bear Skate Directions

September 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Giants leave Denver and head to Phoenix for a three-game set with the Diamondbacks, before heading back to San Francisco for their final homestand of the season. After, they end the season on the road, where magic numbers will probably seem relevant.

Prior to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ contest against the St. Louis Cardinals tonight, the Giants and Dodgers each have 19 games left on their schedule. When magic numbers (the remaining combined number of the division leader’s wins and the trailing team’s losses before the leader clinches) are still in the double-digits, it’s too early to set up a date for champagne showers, let alone buy the champagne for when the Giants win the division. Don’t underestimate Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley “Goggles” Ramirez and Nick Punto just yet. Unless the magic number’s less than or equal to 10, you’re better off making like Rickie Weeks and swinging at this pitch.

Sergio Romo’s slider (<3) jusssssssssst a bit outside.

I could stare at that .gif all day.


In other news, if you missed yesterday’s post on the Golden Bears’ competition this Saturday, go here.

But whether you don’t have a bus pass, whether you have a hard time scrounging up two dollars and ten cents (AC Transit) or one dollar and seventy five cents (BART), just find a way to overcome the excuses (“oh, Zach Maynard looks productive today”, “I don’t know where the ice rink is even though you provided the address”, “I have homework I’m not going to work on”, “it’s so farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”) and go to the competition.

By bus

If you decide to make use of your Fall 2012 bus pass, take the 1-Telegraph because the 1R does not go all the way to Berkeley on weekends. Catch the 1 anywhere from Dwight and Telegraph, Haste and Dana or Durant and Dana and take it to Thomas L. Berkley Way, when the 1 turns off Telegraph. Walk from that stop back to Telegraph and towards 18th Street. The main entrance of the ice rink should be on your left.


If taking the bus is a hassle, take BART, where you can take any line, Pittsburg/SFO, Fremont or San Francisco/Daly City/Millbrae to 19th Street/Oakland. If you exit from the station from the 17th Street/Telegraph side entrance, take a right to Telegraph and cross the street when you reach the 18th Street/Telegraph intersection. This will take you to the main entrance of the rink on your left.

By car

If you’re risk averse, take Telegraph on down to 16th or 17th streets because you can’t turn onto 18th Street from Telegraph against traffic. Look for parking around those streets and as always, read the parking signs before parking and feed the meter. Otherwise, that parking ticket will make watching this figure skating competition is going to be a really expensive treat.


P.S.: Need your caffeine? Nearest Starbucks is on 8th Street and Broadway.

2012 Golden Bear Skate Preview

September 12, 2012 § 4 Comments

Oh, look! Michelle Kwan got engaged. Cheerio.

If you still want to see a gathering of great figure skaters and you are in the Bay Area, you have a chance to see some good skating. This Saturday, September 15th, if you get angry when Cal cannot contain Braxton Miller and the Ohio State Buckeyes, go and watch University of California Figure Skating Club host the 2012 Golden Bear Skate at Oakland Ice Center (519 18th Street, Oakland, CA), the first of three regional qualifying competitions that determine which three teams will represent the Pacific Division at the 2013 USFSA Intercollegiate Nationals in Hanover, New Hampshire.

The Golden Bears return six core skaters (including co-president Marissa Minovitz, who studied abroad after competing in the Tiger Classic last year) from their 2011-12 team that placed fourth at Intercollegiate Nationals. This year, the team comes back exponentially stronger, adding this year’s collegiate junior men’s champion Matej Silecky and ice dancer Teressa Vellrath, two of the many experienced skaters new to collegiate skating rounding out this year’s competitive team. A marked difference between this year’s team and the last two teams is that rather than bringing eight skaters to compete against full-sized teams, they now have enough skaters to use up their allotted 35 entries and a great shot at improving on last year’s finish.

Why Hosting Their Own Competition Is Important

Though there are a lot of logistics and costs to plan out, the team that host their own competition has the luxury of staying home. More often than not, people like to sleep in their own beds and know the short routes straight to the rink and the nearest Starbucks. They save money on flights and car rentals. Skaters probably would also enjoy expending energy on extra preparation, rather than using that same energy just to fly up the state (if you’re from Southern California) or even across a time zone (if you’re coming from Fort Collins or Denver). I also believe that unless you are used to the high altitude or you have the money to be able to afford a hyperbaric chamber at home, then the lower altitude of Oakland Ice Center will help you feel like you’re not completely out of breath after your final pre-competition practices. Local skaters also get to enjoy some darn good Crossroads/Clark Kerr Campus home cooking.

The Best Out West

The three top teams from the West, Midwest and East divisions compete in Nationals. Cal, Denver Pioneers and Colorado State Rams hope to repeat as the West representatives but UCLA looks to bump one of them this year.

  • Denver Pioneers

The Pioneers fly down a mile in altitude from Joy Burns Arena and seek a return trip to Nationals. They lost visible leader/senior skater/professor Taryn Brandt to graduation but return a very well-rounded team from top to bottom in order to stay in contention, expecting big contributions from skaters such as Maddie Moyer, Lisa Moore, Lauren Montgomery, Lena Nguyen and Karen Yamasaki.

  • Colorado State Rams

The Rams go away from the friendly confines of Edora Pool and Ice Center in Fort Collins and head to Oakland Ice to cement a return trip to National.

  • UCLA Bruins

After narrowly missing out on a berth to compete at Nationals, the Bruins return all of their skaters Mericien Venzon, Emily Chan, Maddison Bullock and Joey Millet from last year’s team that narrowly missed qualifying for Nationals even when they did not participate in the Tiger Classic. This event will be a homecoming for junior skater Chen and senior skater and 2009 Philippines Women’s Champion Venzon.

What to Watch

The entire competition extends from the warm-ups for high team maneuvers at 9:45 AM to the end of all the senior ladies championship freeskate at 7:20 PM.

  • Junior men’s events (SP: 11:25 AM, LP: 6:40 PM) with Cal’s Matej Silecky competing for points against UCLA’s Joey Millet.
  • Senior ladies events (SP: 11:40 AM, LP: 6:15 PM, Championship FS: 7:00 PM) Look out for Cal’s Michelle HongKatrina Phan, co-president Laney Diggs, Sravani Kondapavulur (I hear Hyrule Temple is involved).
  • Junior ladies (SP: 11:10 AM, LP: 6:15 PM)Marissa Minovitz.
  • In dance, look for Cal’s Vellrath and returning skater Samira Damavandi.

I don’t know who else is skating so… I’ve attached the tentative schedule. The competition may start up early or end late, or both.

That schedule. All events that do not include the (GBS) prefix are not Golden Bear Skate events.

Axels, double axels, axel combos, flying spins, step sequences. Hyrule Temple? Hotel California? Les Miserables? Oh my.


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