Figure skating brings home another national title

by Jennifer Yu | 4/6/06 5:00am

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Dartmouth figure skaters celebrate yet another dominant campaign. The team will lose a number of valued contributors from this year's squad.

That's how long the Dartmouth figure skating team has gone without losing a competition.

And for the third time in as many years, the Big Green again took home the U.S. Intercollegiate Team Skating Championship title.

Dartmouth skaters took first place in a total of eight events, which included wins in the intermediate and low maneuvers.

Big Green co-captain Taylor Grant '06 won the pre-intermediate A solo dance and captured silver medals in both the senior ladies short and the pre-intermediate B solo dance.

"Winning national's for the third year was amazing and it really reflects the entire team's hard work and strong performances throughout the year," co-captain Katherine Kalaris '07 said.

With the San Jose State University Ice Skating Club playing host, 108 of the country's best collegiate skaters gathered at the Logitech Ice Arena in San Jose, Calif., competed in 31 events and battled to capture the national title.

The Big Green skaters combined to earn 96 points while runner-ups Boston University and the University of Delaware earned 59 and 58.5 points, respectively.

"It is thrilling and enormously rewarding to be part of building our program and reaching the success earned by the Dartmouth figure skating team," head coach Loren McGean said. "It has taken a great effort by a few individuals, and for me it is truly a labor of love, to create this team which was started by a single skater only about nine years ago."

Holly Ponichtera '07 received gold medals for the junior ladies freestyle and the junior ladies short programs. She also placed second in the intermediate solo dance and finished fourth in the novice solo dance.

With her wins, Ponichtera earned Dartmouth's Wearers of the Green honors, becoming only the 10th Dartmouth figure skater to earn the recognition.

Grant impressed her coach by landing a double axel that she performed on Sunday morning. McGean described the two-and-a-half rotation jump as "enormous" and said that "it took great strength and willpower to attempt that jump, and she aced it."

Hallie Damon '08 won intermediate ladies short in addition to capturing a bronze medal in the intermediate ladies freestyle. Classmate Dan Dittrick won the pre-intermediate A Men's freestyle and tied for fifth place in the international solo dance.

Sarah Anne Zimbler '09 captured a win in senior solo dance and fourth in both the novice ladies freestyle and novice ladies short programs.

Other strong performances included Katie Collins' '07 second place finishes in the gold solo dance and the international solo dance. Rachel Feder '09 finished second in junior ladies short and fourth in junior ladies freestyle. Nicole Newman '08 captured a silver medal in the pre-intermediate A solo dance and finished third in the senior ladies freestyle.

Furthermore, Kalaris finished fifth in the junior solo dance while classmate Tegan Vay '07 took fifth in the novice solo dance. Graduate student Cynthia Chen took second place in the novice ladies freestyle and the third in novice ladies short.

"It was really great to finish my collegiate career on such a high note," Grant said. "The skating program has been a very important part of my Dartmouth experience and I have been very privileged to skate with such a motivated, devoted and supportive group."

The Big Green will lose three seniors to graduation for next year's competition, but coach McGean remains optimistic about the possibility of getting talented new blood for the team -- always a challenging task with Dartmouth's high admission standards.

"Because Dartmouth is such a competitive school to get into, we can only cross our fingers and hope that the admissions officers will realize that skaters have the qualities required to excel at Dartmouth," McGean said.

On Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m., the skaters will perform at Thompson Arena and students and community members are welcomed to attend the exhibition.