On Who Won the 2014 Intercollegiate Nationals

April 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

The championship standings came down to the wire but it’s the University of Delaware Blue Hens winning their second consecutive Intercollegiate National Championships. Your standings after this two-day soirée in Adrian, MI:

  1. University of Delaware (132 points)
  2. Boston University (115.5)
  3. Dartmouth (114.5)
  4. Adrian College (73)
  5. UCLA (45)
  6. UC Berkeley (38)
  7. University of Denver (29.5)
  8. University of Michigan (25.5)
  9. University of Miami (Ohio) (24)

Just goes to show you how the depth of the Eastern Conference teams really helps them use up their allotted 35 entries (whether they actually have 35 skaters or skaters who can skate multiple disciplines) and outlast the smaller teams on their way to the top.

Deal with it.

Deal with it.

Congratulations, University of Delaware and in realizing what it would be like in a post-Laney Diggs era, good showing, UC Berkeley.


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.


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?


On Pacific Coast Sectionals

November 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Sitting in refrigerator-like conditions for 7 hours will change a man. Primarily, it just makes him wish he brought a pair of gloves, a heavier-duty jacket, and a blanket to make the cold a little more tolerable.

Anyway, I caught the last 7 hours of the 2014 Pacific Coast Sectionals at Oakland Ice, where the top 4 placing skaters in each event secure trips to Boston for the 2014 US Figure Skating Championships. The junior and senior pairs, the junior and senior men, and the junior and senior ladies finish up their chance to show why they should move on. Here are the results page for the 2014 Pacific Coast Sectionals.


Depending on how many competitors are in the event, there can be up to four to five skaters on the ice for 5 minute warm-ups at a time. The first couple of things I notice from these higher-level skaters during their group warm-ups are their ice awareness and self-confidence.

Ice Awareness

Each of these skaters who have made it this far in the qualifying stages have been skating for a very long time. They don’t need to rely on their sight to know where their arms and legs are. Instead, these athletes rely on muscle memory and the feel of how they’ve practiced their jumps, spins and footwork to successfully complete their routines.

It isn’t as if the skaters are ignoring what they see completely. They just won’t keep their gaze affixed on the ice beneath them. Nope, nothing interesting down there. Instead, they will set their eyes on where they will skate next to anticipate where other competitors are going.

Speaking of where competitors are going, these skaters are fearless. They will each practice their portions of their routine, coming within a yard of each other at certain areas of the ice. These close encounters would freak out a new skater who isn’t used to such a welcoming.

These junior and senior skaters will give physical body cues that tell other skaters when a jump or spin will occur. Competitors will defer space to those jumping and spinning before navigating around them and getting ready for jumps/spins of their own. They have great spatial awareness, honed by practicing on crowded sessions at home, that allow everyone to avoid collisions and injuries altogether.


If the same skaters you see during warm-ups are feeling the nerves and the gravity of the stakes at hand, you can’t immediately tell.

At this level of skating where everyone has the same jumps, it comes down to the mental side of things to determine who lands those jumps flawlessly. When triples are necessary to get the highest possible scores, now isn’t the time to waver over whether or not you can land the jump.

“Regardless of whether everything is perfect before the jump takeoff, I will land this f___ing jump” dominates the mental thoughts. It’s what ensures that the muscle memory repeats every little detail that the skater practiced in the training sessions. The crowd cheers on successfully landed jumps, whether the skaters landed perfectly or salvaged things from going wrong. They groan when skaters just miss making all 1080 degrees of rotation.


In 7th place after the short program with 45.43 points due to a fall on a triple flip, Laney Diggs was within striking distance of making top 4 in the standings. In a ladies long program marred by falls and aborted jumps, Diggs stood tall.

Skating 5th out of 14 skaters, Diggs dug deep and produced a beautiful performance, relying on a cleaner skate than populating her performance full of triples. She successfully lands the triple flip this time, mixing in two more triple salchows (one not rotated all the way) and two double axel-double toe loop combinations.

Translation: She did really well.

Translation: She did really well. She’s sitting in first place for now.

A sixth trip to the national championships, this time in Boston sadly wasn’t meant to be. Vanessa Lam, Rachael Flatt, Leah Keiser and Caroline Zhang maintained their leads over Diggs in the short program, leaving her in 5th place and first-alternate in case anything should prevent Lam, Flatt, Keiser or Zhang from competing at Nationals.

Should she decide not to compete with UC Berkeley’s intercollegiate team this year and not continue with skating after this year, it’s a bittersweet ending to the season and career for Laney Diggs. Sure, it would have been great to see her get to Boston but if you have watched her skate as a teammate or a fan, her performances have been a treat to watch. I wish nothing but the best for her heading into her final year of college.


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.


On the 2013-2014 Intercollegiate Skating Season

October 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are going for one of the best engagement and wedding parties of all time, all time. Kanye, Brian Wilson will be pissed if you don’t let him be the ringbearer though. Kim, hope that 15-carat diamond ring doesn’t break your arm. According to reliable sources…

hey… your sources aren’t all that reliable…

Hey! That’s a convenient amount. It’s like it’s just enough for a contract savvy Brian Sabean handed out not too long ago.

Kruk loves the contract. "TIM LINCECUM'S BACK, BABY."



All Tim Lincecum contract jokes and elaborate proposals aside, a new figure skating season is here and you want to cheer for a team that wins, a team that doesn’t know how to lose, and a team that does triple axels. I’m going to do my best to let you know the week before the first competition what’s going on with the California Golden Burrrrrrrrs. Here’s what’s on tap:

The Schedule

According to USFSA, these are the dates when you can catch UC Berkeley’s competition performances if they’re in an area near you.



Where Is It, Brah? Host School


Tiger Challenge Colorado Springs, CO Colorado College


Golden Bear Skate Oakland, CA UC Berkeley


Pioneer Open Denver, CO University of Denver


US Intercollegiate Championships Adrian, MI Adrian College

Sandwiched between two trips to Colorado, the Bears host their own competition again in Oakland with many returning and new skaters in tow. Last year’s championship reps UC Berkeley, UCLA, and DU look to book their return flights to the Championships, but look for New Mexico and Colorado College to bring out the tables, ladders, and steel chairs and make things interesting.

The Competition

University of Denver loses novice skater Rylee Pepich as she transfers schools but returns most, if not all of their team. UCLA loses senior skater Coral Chou but might return to full strength with the return of senior ladies’ Mericien Venzon and junior ladies’ Emily Chan. They will assist Maddison Bullock, 4th year Amanda Sunyoto and junior men’s Joey Millet on their quest to make sure you see LA and the powder blue.

New Mexico, beaten out last year by UCLA for that final spot in the Championships will field a small but formidable team in the Southwest. Colorado College expects back Midwestern Regionals competitor Janet Miao and … yeah, I’m not really sure who else they’re bringing out to compete. More on the Pacific teams, as well as the teams in the Midwest and Eastern regions after every team finishes their first regional competition.

The Golden Bear Roster

The Golden Bears return a large core of their skaters despite losing junior ladies’ Marissa Minovitz to graduation. Coming back are

  • Sectionals-bound/Senior ladies’ Laney Diggs
  • Senior ladies’ Sravani Kondapavulur
  • Senior ladies’ Katrina Phan
  • Senior ladies’ Michelle Hong
  • Junior ladies’ Gina DeNatale
  • Intermediate ladies’ Janelle Unger
  • Junior men’s Sean Sunyoto
  • Junior men’s Matej Silecky
  • Junior men’s Jay Yostanto (maybe?)
  • Juvenile ladies’ Amy Nguyen
  • Senior ice dancer Kelsey Chan
  • Senior ice dancer Teressa Vellrath
  • Senior ice dancer Samira Damavandi

New faces you may see now or later are:

  • Senior ladies’ Sara Billman
  • Junior ladies’ Kathleen Albert
  • Novice men’s Aditya Nandy

Reprising her role as the conductor of the UC Berkeley team is the baus Dani Schraner. The roster is top-heavy in both freeskating and ice dancing, but I’m pretty sure the team is open to adding a graduating senior with one semester left to make something happen in college. High team maneuvers, kind of like HORSE but with triple axels and flying change of foot spins instead of corner 3s and windmill dunks, will be covered by any combination of the returning ladies for the spins and sequences + Sara + one of the guys to do the triples.

Last year, the Golden Bears had a good shot at earning a top 3 finish at the championship in Dartmouth. This year in Michigan, with additional skaters, additional experience and grit? Ridiculously, even better.

Why Win Now

Win now for Laney Diggs. The 4th year is the engine that runs the team. Of the 59 points the team acquired during their 4th place finish in Championships last year, she earned 13 points with her 4 top-5 finishes. Now in her final year of her undergraduate career, Diggs is an important reason why the team can break the top 3 in the final standings.



The championship window and/or a spot on the podium is closing quickly. This weekend, Diggs and the rest of the team take their first step to keep that window open. Skate on, you Bears.


2013 Intercollegiate Nationals Results

April 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Let’s see what I got wrong and right during this weekend of intercollegiate figure skating championships at Thompson Arena in Lebanon, New Hampshire.



  • University of Delaware Blue Hens come into hostile territory in Lebanon, New Hampshire, wrest the title away from Dartmouth Figure Skating and sit on the throne as 2013 champions.
  • Dartmouth is in second place, narrowly missing out on earning their 2nd consecutive championship and 7th overall on their home ice.
  • Boston University places third, keeping UC Berkeley in 4th even without the assistance of junior nationals competitor James Morgan.
  • Andrew Korda destroyed the field of one in his preliminary men’s performance.
  • Professor Taryn Brandt made it out to Lebanon, sharing Zumba playlists and chillin’ like a villain with Cal coach Dani Schraner.
  • Adrian College, solid first season fielding a figure skating team. Congratulations to women’s hockey player Demi Russo on capturing the intermediate ladies collegiate individual championship. Meghan Barnes, 4th best novice collegiate skater in the nation. Brittan Mariage, best juvenile collegiate skater in the nation. Maddi Prange and Kate Wolstenholme finish 2-3 in the pre-juvenile event(s). I feel like they did well for themselves this weekend.
  • Though she didn’t crack top 5 in either events, Rylie Pepich had herself a great weekend of skating in her final appearance as a skater for the Pioneers. Best of luck at University of Seattle.
  • UCLA didn’t crack the podium this year. UCLA and UC Berkeley will one of these days. All the best to Coral Chou, who graduates this year.


The best Cal Figure Skating team in terms of numbers and caliber of skaters was much closer to attaining third place this year compared to 2012. Though they fell short, this team performance is nothing to hang your head in shame at.

... aaaaaaaaand Brandon Belt gets the stolen base.

… aaaaaaaaand Brandon Belt gets the stolen base.

  • Dartmouth’s Caroline Knoop is gonna Knoop and keep Cal skaters out of first in both junior short and free skates. That said, 4th year Marissa Minovitz earned some hardware to take home in her final competition of her undergraduate career. 6th in the short, she convinces the judges and everyone else that her free skate is a better Love Story than Twilight, earning third place honorz. 3 points.
  • Captain Michelle Hong earns herself 4th place in the senior ladies long program and was an integral portion of the high team maneuvers group that finished 4th. 2 points.
  • I’d say Matej Silecky enjoyed a New England do-over, getting redemption after his Eastern Sectional Championship performance in Hyannis Port, MA. He places first in both junior men’s short and championship free skate events ahead of Jon Jerothe, Joey Millet, and Evan Bender. He also placed third in preliminary dance, earning a total of 15 points for the team. Money.
  • Sean Sunyoto also had a solid first year competing for the team, placing 3rd in the senior short, 2nd to Schuyler Eldridge in the championship free skate, 4th in the senior solo dance, and 5th in junior solo dance. He skated the Tango and Killian dances just fine. 10 points.
  • Janelle Unger, clutch. Skating at 7 in the morning in the first event of the weekend and skating the long program shortly after, she places a strong 5th in both events. 2 points.
  • Surprises of the weekend occurred when Laney Diggs and Sravani Kondapavulur passed their dance tests before Intercollegiates and skated in juvenile dance. Diggs finished 3rd and Kondapavulur 6th. They participated in the grueling figure skating decathlon, doing the maximum number of events in free skate (Diggs 2nd in championship ladies), dance, and high team maneuvers all in the same day. Much props to these two.
You know this boogie is for real.

You know this boogie is for real. Flipping awesome!

  • Amy Nguyen’s gritty veteran performance in her first year of collegiate competition earns the team 4 points with her 2nd place finish in the juvenile free skate.
  • First year Kelsey Chan finishes 3rd in the senior solo dance and finishes somewhere in the standings (LOL ME) in gold solo dance, earning the team three points.
  • Teressa Vellrath placed 4th in gold solo dance and 3rd in international solo dance. 7 points.
  • Cal coach Dani Schraner places 1st in all her skaters’ hearts. No points and no awards but not everyone can be Cal’s coach.
Not everyone can be Cal's coach. Not everyone can be Dani Schraner.

Most importantly, not everyone can be Dani Schraner.

The only thing I know for sure about these standings is that Cal earned much more points than it did last year, when it received 39 points from eight skaters. The team managed to stay in the upper echelon of intercollegiate skating, keeping up with perennial title contenders Dartmouth, Delaware, and Boston University. There’s no big, shiny trophy this year for 4th place but the team will be okay.

With that, it’s been another year of intercollegiate skating, woefully lacking in coverage from governing body US Figure Skating (eight tweets total, holla). It’s been another year of East Coast dominance and everyone else playing catch-up. I do have reason to be optimistic though because I see the makings of a Bay Area dynasty that just needs a little more time to make things happen. Don’t sleep on the Golden Bears. To paraphrase Aubrey, like a sprained ankle, this team ain’t something to play with.

Great season, Cal. Go Bears.


2013 Intercollegiate Nationals Results

Your Updated Final Standings (courtesy of usfsa.org)

          1. Delaware (98 points)
          2. Dartmouth (93 points)
          3. Boston University (84 points)
          4. UC Berkeley (59 points)
          5. Adrian College (36 points)
          6. UCLA (33 points)
          7. Miami University (29 points)
          8. Denver (12 points)
          9. Michigan (9 points)
Tried not to, failed miserably.

Tried not to, failed miserably.


Midwestern Conference, Nationals Preview

March 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last mention of 2013 Intercollegiate Nationals for a bit. The Honey Badgers find themselves in fourth place and their spots at the season finale swiped. Instead, the Midwestern representatives in Hanover, New Hampshire will be Michigan Wolverines, Miami (Ohio) Redbirdsand in a March Madness upset, Adrian College Bulldogs.

Catch your breath, University of Wisconsin.

Catch your breath, University of Wisconsin.

USFSA needs only one of its tiebreakers this time. After three competitions, Adrian College and Miami University finished tied for first place with 11 team points overall. Because Adrian College won the last two competitions and Miami only won the first one, USFSA awards first place to the Bulldogs and second place to the school that Ben Roethlisberger went to.

Again, I’m terrible at math and reciting things. You might just want to get some reassurance by checking the standings yourself . Let’s project some rosters (not really accurate because I don’t know any of the Adrian College skaters) and elaborate on some observations. Below are the nitty, gritty rosters of the Midwest teams the Golden Bears will be facing, but you probably just want the stray observations. If you’re lazy, click here.

Yo, Adrian College

Place at 2012 Intercollegiate Nationals: Did not qualify last year

Place after 2013 Regionals: 11 points , 1st

  • Bronco Challenge: 5th place
  • Hoosier Challenge: 1st place
  • Maize and Blue Matchup: 1st place


  • Senior ladies Well, this is awkward
  • Junior ladies/novice dance I don’t know any Adrian College figure skaters
  • Preliminary men’s Very well, then
Way to go, dude who sucks with names.

Way to go, dude who sucks with names. Jeez.

University of Miami (Ohio)

Place at 2012 Intercollegiate Nationals: 8th (14 points)

Place after 2013 Regionals: 11 points , 2nd

  • Bronco Challenge: 1st place
  • Hoosier Challenge: 3rd place
  • Maize and Blue Matchup: 3rd place


  • Senior ladies Alyx McCartney
  • Senior ladies Elena Rodrigues
  • Senior ladies Brandee Conklin
  • Junior ladies Kara Oksenen
  • Novice ladies/juvenile dance Torri Huebner
  • Novice ladies Anna Tyrik
  • Intermediate ladies Michelle Sawaya
  • Intermediate ladies/senior dance Amy Mullen
  • Intermediate ladies Emily Taylor
  • Intermediate ladies Grace Gormley
  • Intermediate ladies Gabriella Uli
  • Juvenile ladies/novice dance Alyssa Skijus
  • Juvenile ladies Kellye Sutherland
  • Juvenile ladies Danielle Wardeiner
  • Preliminary ladies Maria Song
  • Senior dance Bianca Burbank
  • Junior dance Julia Kaesberg
  • Novice dance/intermediate dance Matthew Witt
Still mad at me?

Still mad at me?

University of Michigan

Place at 2012 Intercollegiate Nationals: 7th (16 points)

Place after 2013 Regionals: 10 points, 3rd

  • Bronco Challenge: 2nd place
  • Hoosier Challenge: 4th place
  • Maize and Blue Matchup: 2nd place


  • Senior ladies/senior dance Lauren Nieman
  • Senior ladies/senior dance Erica Miller
  • Senior ladies Lara Willmarth
  • Senior ladies/preliminary dance Megan Gueli
  • Junior ladies/senior dance Connie Achtenberg
  • Novice ladies/senior dance Kelsey Traul
  • Intermediate ladies/preliminary dance Merrick Jacob
Where's Adrian College anyway?

Where’s Adrian College anyway?

Stray Observations

  • Midwest reps will do their best to get somewhere in the top 4. Last year, University of Wisconsin-Madison came the closest to earning the Midwest a big, shiny trophy, finishing in 5th place.
  • Adrian College, a private, liberal arts college is located in Adrian, Michigan. 0.1 miles southwest of the college campus is Arrington Ice Arena, presumably where the team practices unless they make the one hour drive each way to Ann Arbor.
  • At the rate Adrian College is winning their regional competitions, I think they have the best shot of taking home one of those big, shiny trophies.
  • Miami (OH) has four (4!!!) synchronized figure skating teams, all of which receive funding from Miami (OH) Athletics. At the same time, I don’t know if their sole figure skating team receives any funding to lessen the out-of-pocket costs.
  • Michigan has a small team. Maybe they can convince Wolverines Meryl Davis, Alex Shibutani and Maia Shibutani to earn them some points.
  • I’m not going to be at 2013 Intercollegiate Nationals. Looks like I’ll have to wait until the June/July issue of Skating Magazine in order to have the results.
Better luck next year, Michigan State and Indiana University.

Better luck next year, Michigan State and Indiana University.


Eastern Conference, Nationals Preview

March 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s time to talk a tad more about 2013 Intercollegiate Nationals. The same three teams from 2012 will represent the Eastern colleges at 2013 Intercollegiate Nationals: Dartmouth CollegeUniversity of Delaware, and Boston University.

Cry it out, Sacred Heart University.

Good job, good effort, Sacred Heart University. There, there.

USFSA needs to use both of its tiebreakers to determine that Dartmouth is first after two regional competitions, beating out Delaware. Both won one regional competition, requiring USFSA to see who got more points in the two competitions combined. Dartmouth beats Delaware by a grand total of two points.

I’m terrible at math and reciting things. You might just want to check the standings yourself to get some reassurance. Let’s project some rosters (not really accurate because I don’t know any of the new skaters) and elaborate on some observations. Below are the nitty, gritty rosters of who the California Golden Bears Figure Skating Team will be facing, but you probably just want the stray observations gift-wrapped. If scrolling down gives you Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, click here.

University of Dartmouth

Place at 2012 Intercollegiate Nationals: 1st (130 points)

Place after 2013 Regionals: 9 points (227 overall skater points), 1st

  • Liberty University Intercollegiate Competition: 1st place (110 points)
  • University of Delaware Intercollegiate Competition: 2nd place (117 points)


  • Pre-juvenile ladies Isabel Hines
  • Novice men’s Joseph Miller
  • Senior ladies/preliminary dance Iris Yu
  • Junior/novice dance Kelsey Anspach
  • Preliminary ladies Kristen Nehls
  • Jing Jiao
  • Junior ladies/senior dance Kirsten Seagers
  • Junior ladies/intermediate dance Caroline Knoop
  • Senior ladies Maria Sperduto
  • Senior ladies Katie Bates
  • Juvenile ladies/preliminary dance Chrissy Bettencourt
  • Senior ladies Cali Digre
  • Preliminary ladies Dawn Finzi
  • Juvenile ladies Elana Folbe
  • Intermediate ladies Sarah Gertler
  • Senior ladies/novice/intermediate dance/grad student Pinar Gurel
  • Novice ladies/grad student Anna Hatch
  • Preliminary ladies Renata Hegyi
  • Intermediate ladies/senior dance Bianca Jackson
  • Preliminary dance Susanna Kalaris
  • Juvenile ladies Emily Kong
  • Senior ladies Melissa Li
  • Pre-juvenile ladies Jenny Liu
  • Senior ladies Christine Mozer
  • Novice ladies Anita Naik
  • Junior ladies Samantha Oh
  • Senior ladies Victoria Rackohn
  • Pre-juvenile ladies Erin Tomalonis
  • Senior ladies Esther Wu
  • Senior ladies Julia Zaskorski
"Wow!" is correct.

“Wow!” is correct.

University of Delaware

Place at 2012 Intercollegiate Nationals: 2nd (97 points)

Place after 2013 Regionals: 9 points (225 overall skater points), 2nd

  • Liberty University Intercollegiate Competition: 2nd place (100 points)
  • University of Delaware Intercollegiate Competition: 1st place (125 points)


  • Senior ladies Dana Sivak
  • Senior ladies Melinda Wang
  • Senior ladies/senior dance Julianne DiMura
  • Junior ladies Allanah Barbour
  • Junior ladies Christie Kievit
  • Junior men’s Jonathan Jerothe
  • Novice ladies Brittany Sullivan
  • Intermediate ladies Clara Sherman
  • Pre-juvenile men’s Shaun and Bryan Schaeffer
  • Senior dance Lindsay Cohen
  • Junior dance Megan Marschall
  • Junior dance Jana Raisner
  • Novice dance Noelle Tuttle
Dartmouth, you're in the way. Frowny face.

Dartmouth, you’re in the way. Frowny face.

Boston University

Place at 2012 Intercollegiate Nationals: 3rd (80 points)

Place after 2013 Regionals: 6 points, 3rd

  • Liberty University Intercollegiate Competition: 3rd place
  • University of Delaware Intercollegiate Competition: 3rd place


  • Senior ladies Alex Volpicelli
  • Senior ladies Katharine Huntley-Bachers
  • Senior men’s Schuyler Eldridge
  • Junior ladies Gabrielle Lucivero
  • Junior ladies Tesssa Riccio
  • Junior men’s/Nationals competitor James Morgan
  • Novice ladies Olivia Wyrick
  • Novice ladies Devon Forest
  • Novice ladies Abigail Dutke
  • Intermediate ladies Livana Koznesoff
  • Intermediate ladies/senior dance Elizabeth Gibbons
  • Juvenile ladies Danielle Eble
  • Juvenile ladies Marissa Spanos
  • Pre-juvenile Rosalie Jiang
  • Preliminary ladies Menolly Wlater
  • Preliminary men’s/senior dance Andrew Korda
  • Preliminary men’s Hayman Chan
  • Senior dance Sarah Heerboth
  • Junior dance Olivia Donovan
  • Juvenile dance Krista Rochussen

Oh good, all teams have arrived.

Oh good, all teams have arrived.

Stray Observations

  • Do Male Figure Skaters Wear Tights? A fair amount of traffic for this site occurs when web surfers around the world look for “bulges”, pictures of bulging muscle mass or bulging pelvises. Sorry, no dirty material here. Meanwhile, competitions still don’t allow men to wear tights. Whatever outfits the men have to change into, I’m sure the competitions chairs will cordon off a locker room for men only so the ladies don’t see any male breasts. For the sanctity of figure skating! Think of the children!
  • More Men, More… Points? The addition of UCLA’s Joey Millet and Evan Bender and Golden Bear Matej Silecky will increase the number of points awarded to the junior men’s events. James Morgan, Jon Jerothe, and Joseph Miller can’t wait.  As for Golden Bear and senior skater Sean Sunyoto, he’ll provide Schuyler Eldridge some company in the senior men’s events. Each senior men’s championship participant will guarantee their teams at least four points in the free skate and two points in the short program. Booyakasha.
  • Sunyotos Know They Can Dance, Nationals Edition: Do-or-die showdown between Amanda and Sean in their dance events. Who blinks first? Who starts off the event on the wrong beat?
  • Well-Roundedness: Nope, I’m not calling anyone fat. Each of the East representatives have well-rounded rosters, making it imperative that the Golden Bears execute in all the events they’re in. Earn points.
Keeping the Golden Bears off the podium may be too tough.

Like eating tacos, keeping the Bears off the podium may be too tough.

  • I Can Digg It: After five Nationals appearances and two Intercollegiate Nationals appearances, gritty, veteran skater Laney Diggs still digs being the heart and soul of the Cal Figure Skating team. The best senior skater out west, along with sophomore Sravani Kondapavulur go to Mordor and face off against Dartmouth’s Maria Sperduto, Dartmouth’s Pinar Gurel, University of Delaware’s Dana Sivak and two-time Taiwanese figure skating champion Melinda Wang.
  • Alumnus Love: Joe Flacco goes whacko for his alma mater. He wishes Coach Joel McKeever and the Blue Hens luck.
Thanks, Mr. Flacco!

Thanks, Mr. Flacco! Hey, where’s Mr. Ellerbe?

  • Frowny Face: Last undergraduate competition for junior skater Marissa Minovitz. She and Gina DeNatale look to stop Dartmouth’s Caroline Knoop from winning all the junior events.
  • Championship on Repeat: With a triple axel, solid flying combo spins, and Teressa Vellrath covering the nitty gritty of the serpentine step, Cal Figure Skating is looking at another repeat as high team maneuver champions.
  • By Way of San Antonio: Coach Dani Schraner will be at Intercollegiate Nationals to enforce curfews and photobomb more championships pictures for Skating Magazine.
  • Complainers Gonna Complain: I heard Cal Figure Skating has some surprises they’re bringing to Mordor, New Hampshire. Oh, you don’t like surprises?
Thanks, Obama.

Thanks, Obama.


Magic # is 5… wait, Cal has a figure skating team?

October 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

The second competition on 10/27 calls for your Golden Bears to head to Colorado Springs and fight Tigers, Pioneers, Rams, Bruins and Lobos on the ice for the privilege to go to Intercollegiate Nationals. The team flies from their choice of OAK or SFO to Denver International, take a two hour drive from the outskirts of Denver, past Aurora and to Colorado Springs, where they’ll set up shop at Honnen Ice Arena, the site of last year’s Intercollegiate Nationals.

When the number of Giants wins and Dodgers losses add up to five, then… wait up, that’s not right.

“Jeez, get your sports together.”

Thanks, Rocky.

The Bears, Bruins and Lobos roll their points over from their top 3 finishes in the previous competition. This gives each of these teams a little more breathing room, as the Colorado teams try to grab the remaining points in the last two competition. In one scenario that I did in my head, the Cal and UCLA could book their plane tickets to Hanover, New Hampshire early if UCLA gets first and Cal gets second overall. That leaves both teams with an insurmountable points lead, while the four remaining teams fight for the last spot. As long as they each get top 3 finishes in the Tiger Challenge, both teams would still need to skate the Pioneer Open but would be in great shape to qualify.

If either team gets less points then that (Cal stays at 3, UCLA stays at 2 or gets 3), then the Pioneer Open will be critical for all teams. Every team loves torture and high blood pressure, nervousness and anticipation.

Skaters You Might See

Marissa Minovitz, Gina DeNatale, Matej Silecky, Laney Diggs, Janelle Unger, Kathryn Poniatowski, Amy Nguyen, Teressa Vellrath, Sravani Kondapavulur, Katrina Phan, Michelle Hong, Samira Damavandi, Alex Lin, Sean Sunyoto and Hannah Benet. Maybe freshman Jay Yostanto?

“What do you mean ‘I can skip this one’? I already bought plane tickets!”

This is the list of Cal skaters from the first competition. These skaters have the flexibility to go to this competition or the final one to fulfill their two regional competitions minimum requirement, and may choose to skip this one due to midterms or not wanting to spend money on plane tickets and hotels this early. Legit reasons. Some skaters may not skate the Tiger Challenge in order to qualify at Southwest Regionals for the real deal Nationals. With all this said, Cal still needs to show up against all the improved Colorado teams and New Mexico.

Different Challenges

On top of the number of skaters that the team will compete against, especially within their own events and competition groups, the Golden Bears will need to train for the high altitude. According to Google Maps, Colorado Springs is over a mile/approximately 6010 feet above sea level. Cool thing is, less air resistance, you jump out farther. Bad thing is, if you’re not used to it, you’re dying after you rehearse your short, long and dance programs.

McKayla, not impressed with your cardio.

With the sheer increase in the amount of skaters, it’s likely that the events will not be one to two-team showcases. Marissa and Gina probably won’t be alone in the junior ladies short, while Laney, Katrina, Sravani and Michelle will have more company in the senior ladies short, long and senior ladies championship free skates.

According to this dated, yet awesome sports med site (doesn’t open to a new window), heart and respiratory rates go up to counteract the lack of oxygen in places of high altitude. The increased breathing rate throws off the pH balance in your body via respiratory alkalosis, reducing your body’s tolerance to lactic acid. Granted, I’m not sure if this happens drastically in a matter of a weekend but I got a feeling figure skating 6000+ feet above sea level @Colorado College vs. 40 feet @Oakland Ice makes some difference in many skaters’ routines.

Feeling like death after your morning skate.

UCLA skaters Mericien Venzon, Emily Chan and Maddison Bullock will probably be at Colorado Springs if they want to skate at Nationals. Whether or not Joey Millet, Sarah Palaich, Alejandra Acosta, Therese Vesagas, Amanda Sunyoto, Evan Bender, Coral Chou and other new additions to the Bears in powder blue fly out as well is up in the air.

Colorado College: Beyond student contact Linda Alexander and senior skater Janet Miao, I don’t know much about their team.

Colorado State: No home ice this year as the Golden Bear Skate was added into the Pacific rotation. Coach Pam and skaters Simone Rios, Fran Tait and Molly Parsons, among other skaters drive down from Edora Pool and Ice looking to make their 2012-2013 intercollegiate debuts.

Denver: Lots of skaters returning. You’ll probably see the same skaters who show up for this competition at the last one if they want to compete at Nationals. Look for Lauren Montgomery, Sophie Fritz, Maddie Moyer, Rylie Pepich, Karen Yamasaki, Lisa Moore, and a whole lot of other skaters representing the Pioneers. Shoutout to Lena Nguyen, chillin’ like a villain in New South Wales, which is not even close to the UK. It’s in Australia.

New Mexico: Romilly Tsinahjinnie, Josh Coleman, Krista Keay and Chelsea Erven look to build upon their third place finish at the Golden Bear Skate. They look forward to seeing their skating friends from Colorado and California after a six hour drive from Albuquerque.

Call Kenny Loggins because we’re getting pretty close to a:


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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