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 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?

Boop.

Boop.

UC Los Angeles

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

Alumna/team supporter: Coral Chou

Newcomers:

  • 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

Newcomers:

  • 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…

Results

      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.

BLADES OF GLORY, SON.

BLADES OF GLORY, SON.

thefigureskatinglawyer

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.

Self-Confidence

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.

thefigureskatinglawyer

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."

“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.

Date

Competition

Where Is It, Brah? Host School

10/26

Tiger Challenge Colorado Springs, CO Colorado College

1/25/14

Golden Bear Skate Oakland, CA UC Berkeley

2/22/14-2/23/14

Pioneer Open Denver, CO University of Denver

4/11/14-4/13/14

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.

DON'T GO.

DON’T GO.

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.

thefigureskatinglawyer

On Cal Figure Skating’s Future

May 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

I wish longtime junior ladies’ Marissa Minovitz congratulations on graduating from Berkeley, and best wishes on her future aspirations. I wish Skating Club of San Francisco’s Kimberly Verzano congratulations on graduating from Lowell High (four years to go bonkers in Yonkers), as well as to fellow SCSF skater Magdalena Thornton, who leaves International High for Dartmouth. I wish junior skater Song King well in her health, her studies and her Greek professional and social commitments. I also wish synchro skater Annaleigh Yahata well with her studies and her Cal Dance Team commitment. Cal Figure Skating will continue on.

***

Dat Magic 8 Ball

You say it’s too early to be looking ahead at the Golden Bears and their future relevance in college skating, but it’s not. I’m purposely skipping ahead to the 2014-2015 intercollegiate season because it’s the first time since 2009 that the Golden Bears will be without Laney Diggs. You might want to start the excommunication procedures.

Oh. My. God. How dare you!!!!11!

Here I am blaspheming in the Church of the Golden Bear.

Cal Figure Skating 0 A.D. (After Diggs) will be led by seniors Sean Sunyoto, Teressa Vellrath, Samira Damavandi, Sravani Kondapavulur, Janelle Unger, Katrina Phan, and Michelle Hong, as well as juniors Gina DeNatale, Jay Yostanto, Matej Silecky, Amy Nguyen, and Kelsey Chan.

The team will add synchro skater Skating Club of San Francisco’s Annalise Mahoney and 2013 Pacific Coast Sectionals competitor Sara Billman for the 2013-14 season, giving these ladies some experience heading into the 2014-2015 season. The Golden Bears will definitely recruit from their backyard, adding more diamonds in the rough from figure skating clubs such as San Francisco, St. Moritz, Peninsula (San Jose), and All Year (Carson City).

By that point, the Golden Bears will match the Denver Pioneers and the three East Coast teams in terms of depth that every championship-caliber team needs. If the Golden Bears want to stay relevant in the intercollegiate figure skating landscape, they must use up most, if not all of their 35 allotted entries in all competitions. This is necessary in order to compete with the Blue Hens and the Moose of figure skating, but even more so when the team attempts to replace a phenomenal skater in Laney Diggs.

4 years of college and graduation. Still shocking.

4 years of college and graduation. Still shocking.

***

“Get off me,” She Said to Tracy Porter

The Golden Bears lose undergraduate Laney Diggs to graduation, barring any acceptance to any Berkeley graduate school programs. That’s just one skater, am I right?

What a wonderful idea.

What a great idea….

In reality, you’re trying to replace a skater who has five US Championships appearances, carrying the Golden Bears team on her back though every single year she’s been at Berkeley. Whether it’s edges and three turns or nailing double axel combinations, Diggs is the clutch skater you want to ensure that you get to Intercollegiate Nationals every year. She finishes in the top 3 in every senior short program and free skate she has participated at the intercollegiate level. Her contributions at the dance events have added a layer of versatility to her game, while her gritty execution in the high team maneuver jumps never fails.

Mind = blown.

Mind = blown.

The boys have Diggs’ jumps covered in the high team maneuver, especially with other teams equipped to do triple lutz and axel combinations. But who else on the team can make up the points that Diggs earns in the senior short and championship free skate? What about the two dance events she can do?

A Laney-less Cal team seems unusual for Golden Bear skaters used to seeing Diggs put the team on her back. It’s made it simple for the team to make their minimum of two appearances at the regional competitions. It’s made it simple for the team to complain about the flight prices and hidden fees to get to the championship, instead of complaining about another year in which they didn’t make it at all. The 2014-15 season will be the time for Cal to show that it can stay relevant after Laney Diggs graduates.

If the team succeeds without Laney P., I might just have to.

If the team succeeds without Laney P., I might just have to.

The Positives

It’s not all doom and gloom for the flagship University of California’s team. After the intercollegiate championships have been held in Hanover, NH and some city in the Midwest, the Championships come rightfully home to the Western Conference. Since Colorado hosted the last the the Championships were in the West, Katherine Specht and the USFSA committee of making things happen can flip a coin to choose between New Mexico and California next. The Golden Bears have a great chance to sleep in their own beds or at the very least, stay in their own time zone, giving them another advantage in trying to make the top 3.

If Jay Yostanto no longer is obligated to do his Junior Grand Prix assignments, he will team with Matej Silecky to form a powerful 1-2 combo in the junior men’s events. Sean Sunyoto resumes at the senior level, though he will no longer have a sibling rivalry in dance when Amanda graduates in 2014. Sravani, Michelle, Katrina, Teressa will continue to make up the core of the high team maneuvers along with Sara Billman, while Annalise, Janelle, Amy, and Samira holding the fort down at intermediate team maneuvers. Kelsey Chan will keep accompanying Teressa Vellrath at the gold and international solo level dances, while Samira accompanies Sean at the senior and junior dance levels.

Oh. My. God. How dare you!!!!11!

Oh. My. God. Really!? All the triple axels!!!!11!?

The seniors and juniors listed above will have a figure skating season or three to know what it takes to get as many points as possible, whether that means skating up to the championship free skate at the junior or senior levels or passing the tests for different levels of dance. They will also successfully recruit new members of the team because as coaches and high level skaters, they are such prominent members of the skating community in Northern California. Regardless of any additions that the other championship-qualifying teams will make, I am optimistic that the team will take advantage of opportunities to make it to Nationals and finally make it to the podium.

The other thing? If Laney Diggs takes a fifth year or goes to graduate school here in Berkeley, you can turn that frown upside down and ignore everything I just said for at least another year.

What did the bearpaw say to the face? Slap.

What’d the golden bearpaw say to the face? Slap.

thefigureskatinglawyer

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.

ALL THE WRONG PREDICTIONS. ALL THE SHOCKING THINGS.

ALL THE WRONG PREDICTIONS. ALL THE SHOCKING THINGS.

  • 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.

BUT WHAT ABOUT CAL?

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.

tumblr_inline_mgoyeebeTz1qh2pxo

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.

thefigureskatinglawyer

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?

hotfuzz1

  • 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.

Teams

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?

youreuglylegkick

Or…

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

thefigureskatinglawyer

Kina Grannis in San Francisco

February 2, 2013 § 4 Comments

Belated congratulations to senior Laney Diggs (St. Moritz FSC), junior Jay Yostanto (SC of New York), juvenile Dinh Tran (SC of San Francisco) and junior pairs skater James Morgan (SC of Boston) on their appearances at the 2013 Prudential US Figure Skating Championships. Good luck to you skaters as you train for your future competitions.

I haven’t updated the blog in two weeks since Nationals/European Championships and there is a lot of information to write about, ranging from the American skating progress at the world stage, its rivals out in Europe and Asia, and American skating at the collegiate level. There are more basic topics to go over, like the anatomy of a figure skate, the jumps other than a triple axel, perseverance through frustration in the sport, and what to do at an ice rink, all before the 2014 Winter Olympics rolls through Sochi, Russia.

Beyond the realm of figure skating, there are law school topics to discuss, from other overlooked aspects of the LSAT to drowning in acceptance letters, from finding out how to arrange visits to doing research about the law school (so… you’re saying some law schools aren’t even in the same city as the undergraduate campuses?). More in a bit on law schools.

***

In the meantime, Kina Grannis will perform at Verizon’s Lunar New Year Celebration in San Francisco’s Union Square on Saturday, 2/2. According to her twitter account, she will perform around 4:30 pm. The event begins at noon, ends at 6:00 pm, and admission is free for everyone of all ages.

I’ve enjoyed Kina Grannis singing live during the SF stops of her World In Front of Me and In Your Arms tours, promoting her fourth album, Stairwells. Winning the Doritos: Crash the Super Bowl contest and earning a record deal with Interscope Records, she has since left Interscope, became an independent artist, and appeared and performed her singles “Valentine” and “In Your Arms” on Good Day LA and the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

You may know her through her TV appearances or through Wong Fu Productions, where “Cambridge” and Paul Dateh’s remix of “Stars Falling Down” respectively features prominently on “Strangers, Again” and “When It Counts.” You may know her through her music videos for “Valentine” and “In Your Arms,” the latter a stop-motion video that was produced using 288,000 jellybeans and took two years to make. You may know her way back when nobody else knew who Kina Grannis was, not even her family.

If you don’t know Kina Grannis though and you’re near downtown San Francisco, give her indie/pop music a try. She’s definitely worth a listen.

Slap me if I'm wrong.

Slap me if I’m wrong.

***

I’ll be making a trip out to the Washington D.C. area to visit a good friend and visit George Washington Law, Georgetown Law, and University of Maryland Law (maybe) next weekend. I’m looking forward to hanging out in D.C. with my friend and checking out law schools by Foggy Bottom.

GIGGLING ABOUT FOGGY BOTTOM? WHAT ARE YOU, FIVE?

GIGGLING ABOUT FOGGY BOTTOM? *********! WHAT ARE YOU, FIVE?

thefigureskatinglawyer

Quick Hits: Early Sunday Morning

January 20, 2013 § 2 Comments

2013 US Figure Skating Championships sponsored by Prudential Real Estate will be held in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s a shame that many skaters were injured and could not participate in the competition. High-profile withdrawals include Alissa Czisny (dislocated hip) and Evan Lysacek (healthy but not in competition form since incurring sports hernia). Another high-profile withdrawal includes All Year FSC (Carson City) senior ladies skater and Pacific Coast Sectional Championships winner, Vanessa Lam, disclosed by USFSA in a  140-character statement on Twitter.

USFSA rulebook states that if any of the top 4 finishers in the sectional competitions must withdraw from the national championships, the first alternate/5th place finisher from the withdrawing skater’s sectional may take their place. The fifth place finisher from the 2013 Pacific Sectionals?

What do you mean my team's not koala-fied to go to Nationals?

Shut the front door.

UC Berkeley/Cal Figure Skating’s Laney Diggs. Diggs replacing Lam isn’t quite Brady/Bledsoe (lacks perspective and time), Harding/Kerrigan (lacks knee bruises and figure skating scandal), or Kaepernick/Smith (Kettlechips? Kappersnack?). Receiving word of Lam’s withdrawal from USFSA officials Saturday, Diggs accepted the opportunity to make the most of her fifth Figure Skating Championships experience (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010). She has less than a week until she performs her short program on January 24th at CenturyLink Center.

Meanwhile, Skating Club of New York skater and 1st year Golden Bear Jay Yostanto skates his short program in Sunday’s first junior men’s event. Best wishes from here to the Golden Bears on the national stage.

NFC Championship Game

San Francisco 49ers are in Atlanta to face the NFC top seed Falcons for the right to play in the Super Bowl. San Francisco will employ its nickel defense, with defensive backs Dashon Goldson, Tarell Brown, Carlos Rogers, Chris Culliver and Donte Whitner joining damn good coverage linebackers in Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, lining up behind a scary defensive line of Justin Smith, Aldon Smith,  Isaac Sopoaga and Ray McDonald. This starting 11 will be tasked with not only stopping Atlanta’s potent pass offense revolving around Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Tony Gonzalez and Jacquizz Rodgers, but keeping in check Michael Turner and the run game. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who won his first playoff game last week against the Seattle Seahawks will try to shake his reputation of not being clutch.

Colin Kaepernick leads the 49ers offense against a Falcons’ defense that will play less man-to-man than the Packers. Atlanta will have fearsome pass-rusher, John Abraham back from injury and at its disposal to harass Kaepernick into rushed throws and rash decisions. But Kaepernick will have Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon to help lead the rushing attack and stymie Abraham, as well as wide receivers Randy Moss and the emerging Michael Crabtree, whose emergence has coincided with coach Jim Harbaugh’s naming of Kaepernick as starting QB. Will the 49ers be able to exploit the Falcons’ D just like the Seahawks, with Kaepernick finding tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker at the intermediate levels? Might be tough if current Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan spots the errors, fixes them, and creates a formidable obstacle in the 49ers’ Quest for Six Titles.

49er fans are: ☑ Having it, ☐ Not having it

49er fans are: ☑ Having it, ☐ Not having it

Stray Observations

  • Michelle Kwan’s wedding ceremony happened Saturday. Cool beans.
  • NHL started its abridged season Saturday. New Kings fans finally have reason(s) to wear their Anze Kopitar jersey.
  • Golden State Warriors ended their three-game losing streak by posting a 116-112 victory over the Hornets in New Orleans. Jarrett Jack put on his big boy pants and did everything short of piloting the team home to Oakland, scoring 25 points and dishing 12 assists.
  • The Giants avoided arbitration with Buster Posey, agreeing to a 1 year/$8 million dollar contract. This opens up a window to sign Buster Posey to a long-term contract for a s**t ton of money.
  • Posey also met Yogi Berra in New York, where Posey attended an awards dinner put on by the New York chapter of BBWAA, receiving his 2012 NL MVP award. Buster Posey was: ☑ Having it, ☐ Not having it
  • Sergio Romo took a lot of leverage from the Giants. He stands to make 4 million dollars a year in a longer contract or… he’ll take the Giants to arbitration for a 1 year/4.5 million dollar deal. Oh dear.

Three-day weekend (MLK Jr. Day on Monday) may allow people to get Colin Kaepernick’s name right.

On second thought, maybe not.

thefigureskatinglawyer

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