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Skaters fine-tune programs

July 5, 2017
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The 60th edition of the Lake Placid Figure Skating Championships served up four exciting days of competitive skating from Thursday, June 29 through Sunday, July 2 in the Olympic Center. There were 80 events, from Pre-Preliminary to the Senior level, which attracted 400 competitors.

Although most participants were from the United States and Canada, international skaters competed as well, many using the event to debut their new programs for the season and practice performing in front of a panel of judges. The judges' feedback is an important factor in the development of a winning program.

Julia Sylvia Gunnarsdottir, of Iceland, who trains with renowned Canadian coach Annie Barabe at the Champions Training Center in Varannes, Quebec, placed sixth in the Intermediate Ladies IJS short program and used the event to initiate her new competitive season.

Article Photos

Olivia Serafini, of the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club, skates her long program last weekend in the Lake Placid Figure Skating Championships at the Olympic Center. Serafini took first place in the Senior Ladies competition.
Photo provided by Miracle Moments Photography

"Skaters from my skating school were competing here, and I thought it was a really good event to start the season and skate my new short program for the first time," Gunnarsdottir said. "I'm happy with my performance but there is always room for improvement. (My goals for the season) are getting my double axel more solid, and I'm hoping to land my first triple jump."

Historically the junior and senior events have been the showcase "events to watch" in skating competitions. This year, the senior and junior ladies long programs were packed with 19 and 14 skaters, respectively. The men's fields in the same levels only included one skater in each, making it, in effect, an "exhibition," but still a performance that was evaluated by a panel of judges.

In the senior men's event, 2013 national silver medalist Ross Miner of the Skating Club of Boston earned a score of 149.86. In junior men, Matthew Markell of the Prescott Figure Skating Club in Canada earned a score of 115.35. Unfortunately, national Junior competitor Yamato Rowe of the Philippines, who was originally scheduled to compete in the event, withdrew.

In Junior Ladies, Gabriella Izzo of the Skating Club of Boston placed first with a score of 72.87. Second place went to 2014 National Junior ladies champion Iris Zhao of the Colonial Figure Skating Club (71.32), while Jaclyn Bozzetti of the Ice House of New Jersey Figure Skating Club earned third place (70.46).

The Senior ladies event included 2015 National Junior silver medalist and international Junior competitor Olivia Serafini, national competitor Heidi Munger, national Canadian competitor Michelle Long, and Skating Club of Lake Placid member Cierra Nelson.

Serafini, of the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club, won the Senior Ladies event with a score of 89.57, with Munger of the Skating Club of Boston placing a close second (88.80), and Michelle Long of the Richmond Training Centre in Canada placing third (79.16).

Training on two coasts, in Southern California with Rafael Arutyunyan and his team, and in upstate New York with Elizabeth Commerford, Serafini was drawn to compete here because of the rich figure skating history in Lake Placid. She used the event to help propel her toward her goal of qualifying for the 2018 national championships in San Jose, California, and felt a mixture of emotions about her performance.

"I was very pleased with my short program as it was the first time out this season with this program and although there were a few points lost here and there, I was proud of myself for going for my triple/triple combination jump," Serafini said. "I was a little disappointed in my free skate because I have been training better, however, I felt I gave an overall performance and kept the energy all the way through. Although I did not hit all elements, the performance showed that I have been training my programs."

After Lake Placid, Serafini planned to compete next at Skate Detroit on July 19.

The Skating Club of Lake Placid boasted two competitors in the championships: Carly Brox competed in Pre-Juvenile Test Track, while Cierra Nelson competed in Senior Ladies.

Even though she lives and trains in Southern California, Nelson often competes in Lake Placid. This time she completed her competition goal, which was to attempt a triple axel.

"To be truly honest, at first I was a little hard on myself about my performance, but afterwards, realizing that I had a late start in training my long program due to school and several other reasons that kind of hindered my training for it, I did the best that I could under those circumstances and I'm thankful for the effort I put out for the first time," Nelson said. "My goal for this season is to have ownership of my triple axel this season and compete with it this year".

Skating fans can enjoy more live skating on July 8, when the first Saturday Night Ice Show of the season will be held in the Olympic Center's 1932 Arena at 7:30 p.m. Admission is available at the door. The program will include skaters participating in the Lake Placid Summer Figure Skating camp and invited elite guest stars.

For more information on ice shows, competitions and other skating programs, visit



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