Skaters glide into first at Delaware

by Cecily Kaya | 3/7/07 6:00am

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Dartmouth's figure skating team will compete in nationals this spring.
by Jennie Post / The Dartmouth

Senior and co-captain Katherine Kalaris '07 was elated about the win.

"This is especially important for the '07s, to be at Dartmouth in our last chance to skate on a collegiate level," she said.

The Big Green racked up 92 points this weekend in a combined effort from their events in the solo ice dance, the freestyle and maneuvers, while the University of Delaware picked up 86 points to come in a near second place finish. After stealing first at the Boston University competition held Feb. 17 to 18, Dartmouth -- the three-time national champions -- is guaranteed a chance to defend the title at the National Intercollegiate Figure Skating Team Championship.

The team competes individually and each skater is given a certain number of points for her performance, which accrue to form a cumulative team score. Within the different events of competition, each skater is ranked from first to last, with the top skater earning five points for first, four points for second, and so on. While the level of difficulty ranges from one program to another, they are all scored with equal weight.

Co-captain Nicole Newman '08 won the senior ladies short program, an event that is judged with a very small margin for error. She landed three difficult jumps to secure a first place finish in the event that has eluded her in the past.

Newman's breakout double axle was a risk that she hadn't taken all season, but it paid off when the judges awarded Newman five points for her program.

Holly Ponichtera '07 nabbed first place in both intermediate and novice dance, while earning seven more points for the Big Green by placing in the junior short and the junior long programs with two strong, clean performances.

Kalaris also won in junior dance with a clean program and helped earn her team five strong points.

Going into the senior ladies long program, the scores between Dartmouth and University of Delaware were nearly tied. The situation could have meant an upset for the Big Green, but two solid performances by Newman and Sarah Alexander '10 pulled Dartmouth ahead. With Newman placing second and Alexander placing third, Dartmouth picked up seven more points to put the team well ahead of Delaware and into first place.

"We knew the scores were pretty close and that meant that we had to skate well in order to gain some crucial points. The seven that we got from the long program really helped us to win that competition," Newman said.

Dan Dittrick '08 did impressively well in international dance, taking first place for the highest level of dance performance. This event is what most people will recognize as the type of figure skating performances in the Olympics.

Tegan Vay '07 also took first place in preliminary ladies freeskate while Hallie Damon '08 stole the intermediate ladies short program. Cynthia Chen Adv'08 also placed first in the novice ladies short.

With the individual scores posted and the solo ice dance and freestyle programs completed, the team moved on to the maneuver events. Skaters are judged as a team but are asked to individually perform a specific skill such as a jump or spin. This weekend Dartmouth was happy to walk away with points in all three categories of low, intermediate and high team maneuvers.

Newman felt that the points reflected the team's progress.

"All three maneuver teams scoring was an improvement over our last competition at BU, which is always great," she said.

The Dartmouth figure skating team will continue to practice for the national championship to be held in Hanover in the spring. With the fortunate home-ice advantage, longtime coach Michael McGean '49 will be present to see his protegees defend their national title against the top eight teams in the nation.

As a senior, Kalaris took the time to appreciate her final competition.

"We're really excited to have the opportunity to host the Nationals and see it as our chance to give back to Dartmouth, collegiate figure skating and our coaches, especially Mr. McGean who has been integral to the success and strength of the team," she said. "It will be wonderful for the seniors to have our last collegiate competition on home ice in front of our friends and family."

The National Intercollegiate Figure Skating Championships will be held April 13-15 at Thompson Arena as the Dartmouth figure skating team looks to defend its title for the fourth straight year.

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