Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gibbons, Harris win junior pairs free skate

Reigning U.S. novice bronze medalists Olivia Gibbons and Tyler Harris took first place in the junior pairs free skate at Liberty with an entertaining performance to the score of An American in Paris.

The Boston-based team, who is trained by Bobby Martin, Carrie Wall and Christine Hough-Sweeney, earned 70.97 points for a program that featured fluid lifts, high throw doubles and an exciting double twist.

"It's our first time [competing] as a junior team, and it felt good to be out there," said the 15-year-old Gibbons.

"We've been working a lot harder on our lifts and making ourselves much stronger as a team."

Gibbons and Harris are not eligible for a Junior Grand Prix assignment because he is 21. Their next event is the Indy Challenge, Aug. 1-2.

Ukrainians Vladyslava Rybka and Andriy Deputat took second place with a high-energy program to Bizet's Carmen.

The team earned positive Grades of Execution for their split double twist; two throw doubles, the Salchow and loop; and back press lift to a horizontal position.

The duo, who have been training in Ashburn, Va., this summer, appreciate the opportunity to test out their programs and skills at a non-qualifying event.

"We have no competitions like this [in Ukraine], so this is a good experience for them," their coach, Rashid Kadyrkaev, said. "They've made some new friends and are [associating] with such good skaters."

Felicia Zhang and Taylor Toth, who have skated together for just two months, got the third-best score, 66.38 points. Although they had a high double twist and excellent ice coverage, they lost ground when Zhang fell on a throw double loop.

"We're getting a lot of good feedback here, and we're really excited to be together," said Zhang.

Toth was also happy with their performance here, especially since he and his new partner came up victorious in the short program.

"My friends and family sent the article from [the short] to each other; my grandmother even got it on her computer," said Toth, who hails from Pittsburgh.

Meredith Pipkin and Brett Dunie-Neustadt landed solid side-by-side double flips, but a missed lift cost them and they placed fourth with 57.80 points.

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