On Midseason Previews: 2014-15 UCLA Bruins

December 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

The United States Figure Skating Association’s Intercollegiate regular season is one-third of the way done for Pacific Division teams. Schools from California and Colorado made their way through I-70 to Edora Pool and Ice Center (EPIC) in Fort Collins to see if they could make their Intercollegiate Nationals dreams come true. It’s University of Denver, Colorado State, and University of California, San Diego who are the closest to booking their flights to the San Francisco Bay Area for some postseason glory. Lurking within striking distance are the University of California, Berkeley and University of Colorado, Boulder. Where art thou, UCLA and DO WE START FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW?

UCLA Bruins

Season Standings: Tied for 6th place with Colorado College and University of Northern Colorado, with 0 points

The real figure skaters of Westwood come back home from Denver empty-handed, edged out by pioneers, bears, rams, buffaloes and sea deities. They do get credit for sending skaters to EPIC so they don’t get a stern talking to from Katherine Specht and the USFS Collegiate Committee.

The Bruins are stoked not only to come back to final examinations and $1.75 Diddy Riese ice cream sandwiches, but also to the low altitude of Southern California, where it reportedly makes a difference to breathe and skate at 500 feet above sea level, instead of 5000 feet.

Stoked. Gruntled. Por qué no los dos?

Stoked. Gruntled. Por qué no los dos?

These may not be your older brother’s Bruins though, as the Core 4 of Joey Millet, Maddison Bullock, Mericien Venzon, and Emily Chan, plus junior college transfer Amanda Sunyoto and team mom Coral Chou sort out their post-undergraduate lives. Best of luck to their skating, their modeling and singing, their graduate school, their life endeavors. Let’s take a look at the new Core 4 or Core … 10.

2014-15 Roster

  • Tyler Vollmer, ice dance
  • Adrian Siew, free skate
  • Evan Bender, free skate
  • Ai Ohno, free skate
  • Sarah Palaich, ice dance and free skate
  • Jillian Campbell, free skate
  • Evy Karin, free skate
  • Therese Vesagas, free skate
  • Julia Feng, free skate
  • Patricia McNeil, free skate
  • Marisa Goff, ice dance
  • More members to follow once the competitions in San Diego and Denver roll around

Sunyoto Sibling Rivalry No More

Raise your beverage in remembrance of Amanda and her younger sibling, Cal’s Sean Sunyoto. This will be the first time since Amanda transferred from Cerritos College that the Sunyotos won’t be ice dancing against each other. Rather than arguments or fights though, you instead saw one trying to teach the other how to do certain ice dances five minutes before they were scheduled to compete, you saw them supporting each other on and off the ice, and you saw them symbolizing the connection made between Berkeley and LA’s figure skating teams. As Sean finishes his last year of undergraduate eligibility, the siblings will turn their sights toward starting dental school, telling people to floss, and beyond.


There’s Tyler Vollmer, who can ice dance pretty darn well and take advantage of the bonus points that come with competing at the international dance events. It could be Sarah Palaich, whose versatility in the novice free skate and her ice dancing can earn the team much needed points.

I’m still leaning towards sophomore Ai Ohno as the one who wills the team to the postseason. Skating up from novice to junior this year, the team will rely on her clean skates to keep up with everyone else.

California Love

Deadline for Pacific Division teams to sign up for the January 24th Ride the Tide Competition, hosted by University of California, San Diego is December 17th. It’s a three hour drive or a half-hour flight from LA to San Diego, so the Bruins will be skating not too far from home, which is nice. If UCLA can place in the top 3 in January’s competition, they won’t have to worry about not making Nationals.


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 2014 Golden Bear Skate

January 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

tl;dr: Berkeley won, Denver can book their tickets to Michigan, and 3 UCs are fighting for 2 championship spots. Oh my.

The Nitty-Gritty

  • Colorado College, Colorado State University, UC Irvine, and Northern Colorado are eliminated from contention. Thanks for skating but they have no shot at competing in Adrian, Michigan at the end of the year.
  • UC Irvine and UC San Diego have college figure skating teams? Whattttttttttttttttttttttttttt?
  • Natalie McLain, Ruhan Yan, Jennifer Alfred, and Ellen Wilson put UC San Diego Figure Skating on their backs though.
  • The Sunyotos send their regards to all dance competitors.
  • Karen Yamasaki overcame bronchitis to do her thing in the preliminary ladies event. Lauren Montgomery came back from Scotland and did her short program. These two mainstays will help junior ladies skater Sophie Fritz and preliminary ladies skater Ana Sorenson lead the Denver Pioneers and overcome the transfer of Rylie Pepich.
  • Janelle Unger overcame a difficult week off the ice to take home two second-place finishes in her novice events. IN YO FACE!
  • Cal skaters who you won’t see in Adrian, Michigan: Jay Yostanto, Benjamin Yeh, Annalise Mahoney, Gina DeNatale, Katrina Phan, Kelsey Chan, and Samira Damavandi.
Frowny face.

Frowny face.

Passing of the Torch

  • UC Berkeley hosted its competition with its best ladies skater, Laney Diggs and its best ice dancer, Teressa Vellrath.
  • UC Los Angeles skated on without their top junior and senior skaters, Emily Chan and Mericien Venzon.

Because all four skaters have missed the both Tiger Challenge and Golden Bear Skate, they will not be able to skate at Intercollegiate Nationals. These four 4th year skaters have one more chance at the Pioneer Open in Denver, Colorado to clinch Intercollegiate Nationals berths and tie up their intercollegiate skating careers. Best of luck to these ladies on their studies of their final semester.

So who do the four ladies seamlessly pass the torch to?



UC Los Angeles

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

Alumna/team supporter: Coral Chou


  • Jillian Campbell
  • Evelyn Karin
  • Carol Lin
  • Tyler Vollmer
  • Adrian Siew
  • Ai Ohno
  • Elizabeth Miller
  • Sarah Stegman-Wise
  • Sara Villalon
  • Collette Del Poso
  • Rachelle Santos
  • Amanda Smith
  • Ashley Pournamdari
  • Courtney Cruz

UC Berkeley

Pre-existing core: Sean Sunyoto, Matej Silecky, President Michelle Hong, Team Captain Janelle Unger, Kelsey Chan, Amy Nguyen and Sravani Kondapavulur.

Alumnae/coaches: Marissa Minovitz, Dani Schraner


  • Aditya Nandy
  • Kathleen Albert
  • Sara Billman
  • Audrey Phone-Chen
  • Audrey Tan
  • Kirsten Flores
  • Claudia Nguyen
  • Maryssa Ziegler
  • Elizabeth Zeng
  • Anneliese Tung

Most of the newcomers for both UC Los Angeles and UC Berkeley have skated for a long time but the nerves are still there. The last thing you want to do is to tell them “Have fun!” just before the longest 2 to 4 minutes of their lives. In the meantime…


      1. Cal
      2. Denver
      3. UC Los Angeles
      4. UC San Diego
      5. Colorado State University
      6. Menlo College/Colorado College

By virtue of their 2nd place finish in Oakland and their 1st place finish in Colorado Springs, Denver has 9 points. It’s mathematically impossible for them to host a competition at Joy Burns Arena, bring their entire team and somehow not make Intercollegiate Nationals in Adrian, Michigan.

Because Cal placed 1st, UC Los Angeles missed 2nd by 0.5 points, and UC San Diego placed 4th, we have three Universities of California with 6 points. Well, shit. If Denver has one championship spot locked up, that leaves two spots for three Universities of California.

My guess for the Pioneer Open? Denver wins while UC Berkeley and UC Los Angeles take UC San Diego’s lunch money and the remaining championship spots. I may have spoiled much of the 2014 Pioneer Open in Denver for you, but it doesn’t mean the last Pacific regional of the year is any less exciting.




What Can Powder Blue Do For You?

March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

2013 will mark the first year that a University of California, other than its flagship Berkeley campus, is making an appearance at Intercollegiate Nationals. If it weren’t for the meddling Berkeley skaters, University of California, Los Angeles would have been at Nationals a year earlier.

Not this year! Ha ha ha!

Not this year, New Mexico! Ha ha ha!

Results after Regionals

Place: 9 points, Third (lost tiebreaker for second place to Berkeley, won tiebreaker for third place)

  • Golden Bear Skate: 2nd place
  • Tiger Challenge: 4th place
  • Pioneer Open: 3rd place

If super skaters Emily Chan and 2009 Philippines ladies champ Mericien Venzon did not qualify for Nationals, who will lead the UCLA cheers in Hanover, New Hampshire?

Time to get your game faces on.

Time to get your game faces on.

Projected Nationals Roster

  • Senior ladies Coral Chou
  • Junior men’s Joey Millet
  • Junior men’s Evan Bender
  • Senior ladies/ice dancer Amanda Sunyoto
  • Therese Vesagas
  • Alejandra Acosta
  • Senior ladies/ice dancer Maddison Bullock
  • Novice ladies/ice dancer Sarah Palaich
  • High team maneuvers: JoeyEvanAmandaMaddison

It’s going to be Maddison, Amanda, and Coral doing the senior ladies short, with Coral probably joining Cal’s Michelle Hong doing the regular free skate, while Maddison and Amanda trying for the extra two points in the championship free skate against their friends Sravani and Laney. Between that, Amanda takes on her younger brother Sean in the senior ice dance event. How comfortable are you two with the Killian? Spokane (Spokane, WA) FSC’s Joey and Peninsula (San Jose, CA) FSC’s Evan say hello to Skating Club of New York’s Matej in the junior men’s short and championship free skate. Maddison has the novice European Waltz and Sarah joining Gina DeNatale doing the juvenile dance Cha Cha.

Not sure what role(s) Therese and Alejandra will play but they’ve learned from their mistakes made in October in Golden Bear Skate. UCLA won’t put a team in intermediate team maneuvers and in the event they do, they won’t put a junior or senior skater on there.

You know, because they disqualify your intermediate team if you do that.

You know, because they disqualify your intermediate team if you do that.

Stray Observations

  • If Maddison Bullock does participate in Intercollegiate Nationals, it’s not quite the homecoming she’s looking for. Before it shifted to green pastures of Hanover, Nationals was held in Colorado Springs, a short distance away from home for the Colorado native. Those meddling Golden Bears.
  • Dartmouth (green) and Delaware (blue) have strong grips on two berths to Nationals, with Boston University (red/white) trying to fend off Sacred Heart U (red/white) and NYU (purple). Four teams have emerged for three spots: University of Michigan (maize and blue), University of Miami (Ohio) (red/white), University of Wisconsin-Madison (cardinal/white), and the Adrian College (black and gold). Out West, you have the Denver Pioneers (crimson/gold) and UC Berkeley Golden Bears (Yale blue/California gold). Yet in an Intercollegiate Nationals first, UCLA will be the first college to sport powder blue.
  • The Bruins look like they have a decent recruiting pipeline to continue getting skaters. Skaters from St. Moritz (Oakland/Dublin), Peninsula (San Jose), All Year (Carson City), Los Angeles (Artesia), Spokane (Spokane), and San Francisco Figure Skating Clubs may choose UCLA as their destination school and help get UCLA Figure Skating to the next level.
  • What would UCLA star freshman/basketball player Shabazz Muhammad do?
Shabazz would follow his dreams.

Shabazz would follow his dreams.


Cal Figure Skating, Nationals Preview

March 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s been about a year since my last participation in an intercollegiate competition. Since then,

  • LSAC administered four LSATS in June 2012, October 2012, December 2012, and February 2013
  • Kina Grannis makes another visit in San Francisco to visit her family and sing
  • Entry-level jobs, entry-level jobs everywhere. But it’s a shame that I didn’t have 4-5 years of experience.
  • I picked up some fundamentals of figure skating
  • I found out George Washington Law and UC Hastings Law do guided tours. UC Berkeley/Boalt Hall doesn’t. 😥
  • UCLA, not Colorado State or New Mexico, joins Cal and Denver as Pacific representatives at Nationals

But this post isn’t really about me. Rather, it’s about why Cal Figure Skating is in excellent position to overtake Boston University and University of Delaware Figure Skating Clubs and become one of the top 3 intercollegiate teams in the nation. Now’s the time to jump on the bandwagon.

I can tell you're as excited about this as I am.

I can tell you’re as excited about this as I am.


  • Senior ladies Katrina Phan (skated in only one regional)
  • Junior ladies Hannah Benet (skated in only one regional)
  • Novice ladies Tanya Shaby (graduation)
  • Preliminary ladies Sarah Powell (graduation)
  • Preliminary men’s Darren Lee (graduation)

Subtract nine points (Tanya’s 3rd place finish in novice free and 1st place finish in novice short, Tanya’s contributions to the team’s 1st place finish in high team maneuvers, Darren’s 3rd place finish in men’s preliminary) from the 2012 Cal team that finished 4th in the nation with 38 points overall.


  • Senior men’s/ice dancer/sophomore Sean Sunyoto (missed 2011-2012 collegiate season due to injured shoulder)
  • Junior men’s/freshman Matej Silecky
  • Senior men’s/freshman Jay Yostanto (missed 2012-13 season due to Junior Grand Prix assignments)
  • Junior ladies/senior Marissa Minovitz (missed 2nd half of 2011-2012 season studying abroad)
  • Junior ladies/preliminary ice dancer Gina DeNatale
  • Senior ladies ice dancer Teressa Vellrath
  • Senior ladies ice dancer/freshman Kelsey Chan
  • Senior ladies/sophomore Sravani Kondapavulur
  • Juvenile ladies/freshman Amy Nguyen

Returning skaters are intermediate ladies/sophomore Janelle Unger, senior ladies/preliminary ice dancer/junior Laney Diggs, senior ladies/preliminary ice dancer/sophomore Michelle Hong, and junior ice dancer Samira Damavandi. Returning coach is Cal FSC alumnus Dani Schraner.

Yeah, buddy.

Yeah, buddy.

So what?

The most noticeable difference is that this team has become top-heavy. No preliminary free, pre-juvenile free, or novice free skaters.  The only non-junior, non-senior skaters are intermediate ladies Janelle Unger and juvenile ladies Amy Nguyen. We’re leaving potential points on the table.


I’m not sure I’d ever believe Cheryl but I’m willing to hear her out.

The team is well-rounded in other ways:

We have ice dancers

Aside from five skaters signing up for dance events, there was only one true ice dancer on the team, Samira Damavandi (senior). This year, the ice dancing portion of the team grew with the additions of Teressa Vellrath (Gold Solo and International Solo), Kelsey Chan, Sean Sunyoto (junior, senior), and Gina DeNatale (preliminary, pre-juvenile). Ice dance events are packed at each level, allowing each skater to earn points, which can increase significantly the number of points the team gets overall. As baseball analyst Tim McCarver always says, the more points you score, the more likely it is you’re going to win.

Others have a different kind of ice dancing in mind.

Others have a different kind of ice dancing in mind.

More dudes

For the past two seasons, the team’s roster contained one guy. In 2010-2011, it was Cal Figure Skating alumnus Mark Bernardo who would represent the Cal men in regional competitions and then, in Michigan for Intercollegiate Nationals. In 2011-2012, it was Darren Lee taking the torch from Mark to Colorado competitions, including Intercollegiate Nationals in Colorado Springs. This year, it’s junior skater Matej Silecky and senior skater Sean Sunyoto representing the men’s side of the team in Hanover, NH. They’ll expand the number of skaters in each event, allowing each junior and senior skater from all schools to potentially earn more points. Side note,  if dudes are given their own locker room, does it mean they’re banned from the ones for everyone else? No rush, Jacki Smith, Dartmouth competition chair.

More junior and senior level skaters

The team will use up four entries when Marissa Minovitz and Gina DeNatale skate the junior championship free skate and junior short programs. Use up six entries putting your three best senior skaters in the short program. Later, they will put two of them in the regular senior free skate and the other two in the senior championship free skate. Kelsey ChanSravani Kondapavulur, Laney Diggs, and Michelle Hong are your senior skaters. Top 5 finishers in the championship free skate events get two extra points on top of the points they get for their placement.

At this point, the Golden Bears will employ SravaniSeanMatejLaneyMichelle, and Teressa to handle the jumps, spins, and footwork in high team maneuvers.

I can see you getting super excited about this.

I can see you getting super excited about this.

The Thing That Stays the Same

It’s never about winning the Pacific region, though it helps. It’s about doing well at all the regional competitions, allowing the team to qualify for the championships. Berkeley likes to live dangerous though, bringing lots of people to the first competition, bringing almost no one to the second competition, then bringing everyone who didn’t go to the second competition to the last one. Studying for midterms, taking midterms, save money on an extra flight and hotel stay, I get it. This just leaves little room for error if the Golden Bears want to be in the top 3 out West. Last year, it was Berkeley making it to Nationals at the expense of a UCLA team. This year, US Figure Skating had to break a tie between Berkeley, UCLA, and New Mexico, detailed here. New Mexico Figure Skating nearly made it in their first year of existence. But if they want to keep Berkeley out of it next time, they have to do better in all competitions. If you don’t take care of business, an experienced and large team like Berkeley will steal your spot in Nationals every single time.


Super excited!


2013 Denver Pioneer Open Preview

December 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

What could you do with an incomplete description of someone? If someone put my name somewhere and right below it, it said “I like to figure skate” (I do) and “I like Taylor Swift’s music” (I totally do), I bet you wouldn’t hesitate to call me…


A weird 22 year old man with weird tastes. That’s still an incomplete first impression of me that you have gathered and if you stand by it, cool. You’re just making an ass out of u and me if you assume that I have terrible taste in music and and sports though. Similarly, it’s tough to preview the last Pacific regional collegiate competition of the season with little to no information out there.

With a month left to register for USFSA membership (100 for 4 years if you’re in college or grad school, 40 for first time registration) and register for this last region competition (deadline is 1/24), you have awhile to pick up some jumps, spins, footwork and endurance between now and February. But if you’d like to save money on the effort to become a competitive figure skater, fly to Denver Intl., stay at a hotel or rent a car from Enterprise, I get you.

Prayers and thoughts are with Denver skater Emily Deanne as she makes her way back from her student-exchange program in Italy. Meanwhile, her Lady Pioneer teammates have competed in only the Tiger Challange so far, making it imperative for them to bring the entire team in order to secure another Nationals berth. Their team website says they won the Tiger Challenge by 50 points (~10 1st place finishes), which is not surprising if UCLA, New Mexico and your Cal Golden Bears bring about 4-8 skaters each. Competition chair and president Rylie Pepich, VP Lauren Montgomery, Treasurer Sam David and Secretary Erin Orchard, the cabinet members of Denver Club Figure Skating look forward to hosting the annual Pioneer Open again.

Who will join the Lady Pioneers on the ice at Joy Burns Arena? Maybe Colorado State? Colorado College? No idea. I’m just going to assume no one has clinched a berth to Nationals yet, making the Pioneer Open important for all participating teams. Denver has 3 points from their Tiger Challenge victory, Cal has 3 and UCLA 2 from the October’s Golden Bear Skate in Oakland.

Kruk likes the sound of that.

Kruk likes the sound of that.

Chelsea Erven, Krista Keay, Josh Coleman, Romilly Tsinhnahjinnie and the New Mexico Lobos will make the six hour roadtrip from Albuquerque to Denver for the last regional. They received one point from their overall third-place finish in Oakland, looking to bring up to five skaters in the club’s first year of existence. They have the strong foundation in free skate and ice dancing in order to compete in the future.

For UCLA, whether or not super skaters Emily Chan, Maddison Bullock or Mericien Venzon actually skate, Joey Millet, Evan Bender, Coral Chou, Sarah Palaich and Amanda Sunyoto will help pace the Bruins towards their attempt to secure the first trip to Nationals in club history. Good luck, Bears in powder blue.

For Ohlone College, no word on whether St. Moritz skater Samantha Lew will make the trip out to Denver to skate this one out.

Finally, your Cal Golden Bears. Marissa Minovitz and Janelle Unger are the only two Golden Bears who have finished their two-regional requirement to qualify for Nationals. Meanwhile, Sean Sunyoto, Katrina Phan, Michelle Hong, Kelsey Chan, Alex Lin, Laney Diggs, Matej Silecky, Gina DeNatale, Hannah Benet, Sravani Kondapavulur, Teressa Vellrath, Samira Damavandi, and Kathryn Poniatowski look to skate in their second regional competition in order to also get to Nationals. It guarantees a good chance to use up most of Cal’s 35 entries, secure a berth to Nationals, and a trip to Hanover, NH, where they will look to improve on last year’s 4th place finish at last year’s Intercollegiate Nationals.

Your three Intercollegiate Nationals teams out west: Cal, UCLA, Denver. Hmm… SFO, BOS, LEB? I’ve never flew Cape Air before…

Oppan championship style.

Oppan championship style.

Shoutouts to young alumni Danielle Schraner, Tanya Shaby, Mark Bernardo and Professor Taryn Brandt.


thefigureskatinglawyer goes way, WAY inside Golden Bear Skate 2012

September 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

Oh shit.

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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