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U.S. Championships

From the Stands: The Detroit adventures

By Heather Carrelli, FSO webmaster


Editor’s Note: Heather Carrelli, website manager for Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea, is writing a blog, on her experiences as a fan at the 2019 U.S.  Championships. This is blog number 2.  Here are links to read her previous blogs: #1 (Arriving at U.S. Championships).


Day Three: So, day three of my adventures here at the U.S. Championships in Detroit didn’t actually start off with any competitions, but with a fire alarm going off at my hotel at 12:30 a.m. We got up, got dressed, and followed the alarm instructions (all it said was that an emergency had been detected in the building and that we were to go to the corridor by the fire escape and wait for further instructions). After waiting by the fire escape for about a half hour, we finally saw a hotel security guard who told us that there was no fire and that we could go back to our rooms. Apparently, a water main had broken in the garage which is what triggered the alarm (and what also messed up the hot water which we hadn’t had in our room since 8 p.m.) so while we were relieved to find out that we didn’t have to evacuate the building, they couldn’t get the alarm to turn off so it continued to run for almost two hours! I’m pretty sure we didn’t fall asleep until almost 2:30 a.m. and then we had a full day of competition to get up for later that morning so that wasn’t quite the start we were looking for on the third day of our trip.


Thankfully, the day improved although we had another adventure getting to the arena. We had heard on the news that the QLine (the streetcar that runs through downtown) was down due to flooding, but when we asked at the front desk if that was true, they couldn’t find anything about it so we went to the QLine stop down the street from our hotel to catch it and it definitely wasn’t running at that time. So, after waiting a couple of minutes and talking it over, we decided to just walk the few blocks to the arena instead of waiting for the streetcar. The walk itself wasn’t all that bad aside from a few slick sidewalks but it had started raining at the time so we were drowned rats by the time we arrived at Little Caesars Arena. For the record, I don’t recommend having damp hair and then sitting in a cold arena for many hours to watch a skating competition! It got very cold.


Anyway, after all of the stress from the morning, we were happy to finally be at the arena to see some skating. Day three was packed full of junior competitions as well as some senior level ice dance practice. The day started off with the junior pairs short program and two pairs stood out to me in this part of the competition. Laiken Lockley & Keenan Prochnow and Kate Finster & Balazs Nagy, who are the top two pairs after the short program. They both skated wonderful programs with a lot of energy and quality elements. I’m excited to see both of them in the long program tomorrow. We also got to see the junior ice dancers skate in the rhythm dance portion of their competition which was wonderful. The leaders after this portion, Caroline and Gordon Green, were outstanding. They made that rhythm dance look so easy! I also enjoyed Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik, Ella Ales & Daniel Tsarik, Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville, and Oona Brown & Gage Brown. There are so many talented ice dancers in the junior level this year!


Between some of the junior events, we also got to see the senior ice dancers practice and I’m pleased to say that ice dancing is in very good hands with our senior teams. I thought all of them looked great and ready to skate awesome this week. Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue looked strong and ready to defend their title. I also enjoyed seeing Madison Chock & Evan Bates back on the ice after battling with Madison’s injury. They also look ready to compete and I really enjoyed their free dance. I also think Kaitlyn Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker, Michael & Rachel Parsons, Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter, and Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko all look ready to challenge for the podium this year. No matter how you look at it, there are going to be some outstanding dance teams who won’t make the podium here at U.S. Nationals and that is some amazing depth for this discipline!


The final two competitions of the day were the junior men’s and ladies long programs. The ladies came first and overall I thought they skated pretty well although not many of them stood out to me this year. I feel like several of them were skating a little more scared which makes sense if they’ve never skated in an arena this size before. The junior ladies champion, Gabriella Izzo, skated wonderful program overall and was a very deserving winner, but I also want to mention Audrey Shin, the silver medalist, who actually won the LP but was too far behind after the SP to pull up further than second. She skated a wonderful program with some great technical content and a fun energy. She won the night for me and I’m happy that she moved up to stand on the podium. The junior men’s long program was quite the adventure with a lot of movement among the top contenders. The junior men’s champion, Ryan Dunk, was outstanding and I really enjoyed his skating. He has an ease, confidence, and energy that was very appealing to watch from the stands. Some other junior men who stood out to me were Joseph Kang, Alex Wellman, Joonsoo Kim, and Dinh Tran. Overall it was an enjoyable night of skating and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for all these junior competitors.


Day four of my week in Detroit is coming up tomorrow with the junior pairs final, the senior pairs short program, and the senior ladies short program. Thanks once again for reading and I hope you’re enjoying my take on U.S. Championships this year!