Zawadzki on Fast-track for 2014 Olympics
SAN JOSE - She is only 17, but Agnes Zawadzki led after the first day of competition at the 2012 United States Figure Skating Women’s Nationals. She was the last skater on the second day and during her long program she had a disastrous fall and her lead vanished. This allowed Ashley Wagner and Alissa Czisny to overtake her for a one-two finish.
On the first night, Zawadzki was spectacular at the HP Pavilion in front of almost 8,000 with her first-place short program. She opened her skate with a triple toe - triple toe that marked a statement. Czisny, the 2011 U.S. champion, finished second with a score of 63.14 with Ashley Wagner, Caroline Zhang and Mirai Nagasu all close behind.
In the long program, Wagner with her “Black Swan” performance that opened with two successful combination jumps cemented her title. Wagner made six triple jumps that put her in first place over Czisny by more than seven points. Zawadzki had the crowd on her side with her “Rhapsody in Blue” program but slipped to the bronze medal, 13 points behind Wagner after her fall.
Czisny and Wagner will go on to the Worlds in Nice, France in March. Wagner and Czisny need to finish a combined 13th for the United States to get three berths at the 2013 Worlds. All the top ladies stated that they will continue skating for a berth in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Zawadzki was chosen for the Four-Continents Cup competition to be held in Colorado Springs, February 7-12.
Zawadzki has been skating in the Chicago area since she was five years old, mostly at the Niles Ice Arena and then at the Oakton Ice Arena. Her improvement one place from last year’s Nationals has now put her on the world stage.
Zawadzki now has two coaches at the Broadmoor Skating Club in Colorado Springs. Christy Krall is her day-to-day coach in Colorado Springs and Davis Santee who commutes from Chicago to help Team Zawadzki. “It is a difficult training model but it is working out great,” said Santee.
Czsiny, 24, who fell on a triple lutz in her long program, said she is renewing her focus for the worlds. “I am in the best condition and I will be ready,” said the dark haired beauty.
In the all-popular ice dancing competition, it was a Michigan sweep as Meryl Davis and Charlie White won their fourth straight U.S. Nationals. They also are the reigning world ice dancing champions. The next five places were notched by teams that train in Michigan. Joining them on the podium were Canton, Michigan training mates Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, who have now won back-to-back U.S. silver medals. Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue skating in their first U.S. Championships were third.
Davis and White again sparkled as they skated fluently to Strauss as they had two rotating lifts. “I think we achieved exactly what it is we wanted this week, which was to achieve a new comfort level with our performances and leave it all out on the ice,” said Davis. The Shibutani’s, Maia and Alex of Ann Arbor, a brother and sister team had their best effort yet dancing to a brand new program with Glenn Miller renditions. Both of the two top teams train in Canton, Michigan at the Arctic Edge Ice Rink, under Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva. They compete and push each other daily in practice sessions.
After the top two couples, the competition was for the bronze medal and third U.S. world team spot. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue who train at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield, Michigan had enough chemistry to claim the medal. “It was very exciting,” said Hubbell. “This year, we were just hoping to be in contention for third place. There are so many good new teams and also veteran teams, so our focus was definitely just on putting out a clean performance.” Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt who train with the Ann Arbor Figure Skating Club took fourth with a blues number. Madison Chock and Evan Bates also of the Arctic Edge took fifth. Anastasia Olson and Jordan Cowan of the Detroit Skating Club took sixth.
Raymond Rolak contributed