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 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.


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.


2013 Pioneer Open Results and Consequences

February 27, 2013 § 1 Comment

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


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

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

The Tiebreaker

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

Let me paint you a solution.

Let me paint you a solution.


Golden Bear Skate

Tiger Challenge Pioneer Open

UC Berkeley

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

UC Los Angeles

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

New Mexico

Third (3 points) Second (4 points)

Fourth (2 points)

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

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

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

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

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



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


Quick Hits: Dr. Ken Jeong, Sectionals, December LSAT

November 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Cal loses to Oregon. The Warriors lose in 2OT to rebounding man-child Kenneth Faried (18 points, 17 rebounds) and the Denver Nuggets. Whomp whomp.

Walking In On Someone Changing

Just to elaborate upon “The Sanctity of Figure Skating Pt. 4,” surely you’ve walked in on someone whose in the midst of changing their clothes or rocking out with their reproductive organs hanging out at your local 24 Hour Fitness. Or if you don’t use your gym membership much, maybe a couple waited a long time to take a vacation somewhere and you disrupted their photo.

Oh yes, oh yes, uh huh. Right there? Pretty upsetting.

The gym locker room inhabitants either let everything slide or freaks out. The figure skating locker room? It’s likely people will still freak out from such an invasion of privacy though. Along with Sterling Archer’s house rules, a “knock before you walk in on something” rule would probably keep the intercollegiate figure skating peace.



Your California Golden Bears and junior skaters Matej Silecky and Jay Yostanto performed their short programs earlier today. They culminate their Eastern Sectionals experience with their long programs tomorrow in Hyannis Port, Barnstable, MA. Good luck to these freshmen at 23 feet above sea level. Top four finishers advance to Junior Nationals.

Meanwhile, senior skater Laney Diggs goes up against 12 other skaters as she vies for a spot in the 2013 US Figure Skating Championships. She’ll skate her short program second after Sophia Adams of All-Year FSC in the senior ladies group at Pacific Coast Sectionals. Good luck to her Monday afternoon at 4551 feet above sea level in nearby Provo, UT.

Other notable skaters partaking in Pacific Coast Sectionals are UCLA junior skaters Evan Bender and Joey Millet, as well as juvenile skater Dinh Tran of Skating Club San Francisco. Yeah buddy.

Get it straight, Neil. Multiple badasses.

Update: In Hyannis Port, MA, Jay Yostanto finished first overall in the junior men’s event, earning him a spot to 2013 Junior Nationals, while Matej Silecky withdrew from the competition after the short program. In Provo, UT, Laney Diggs finished 5th overall of 13 skaters in the senior ladies event at Pacific Coast Sectionals.

Dinh Tran of Skating Club of San Francisco finished 3rd overall of 12 skaters in the Juvenile boys event at Pacific Coast Sectionals.

Pacific Coast Sectionals’ IJS protocols can be found here. Eastern Sectionals’ IJS protocols can be found here.


December LSAT

December 1st is getting awfully close. Crap.


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