Last Saturday, it was my pleasure to see Ice Crystals 2017. For those not familiar, Ice Crystals is the annual club show for the Colonial Figure Skating Club. Colonial is one of the biggest clubs in New England; it has more than 400 members and operates out of a well-appointed 3-rink facility in Boxborough, a western suburb of Boston. Colonial will host New England Sectionals in November 2017.
Ice Crystals is always quite a big & impressive show; not surprising, considering the size of the club. The Disney theme of this year’s show, “The Magical World of Colonial,” was chosen by the club members. The costumes were characteristic of the Disney theme, and the group numbers were well-skated. It was especially fun to see the little kids playing their favorite Disney characters! The show was smoothly produced by director Sheryl Franks (1980 Olympian) and co-director Chad Brennan (former Nationals competitor); there were no technical glitches.
The show opened with a lovely solo to the iconic Disney song “Wish Upon a Star,” skated by Colonial coach Jessica Dupuis (also the show’s choreographer). At the end, Jessica took the hand of the one of the little girls participating in the show and led her out on the ice—as if to lead her into the magical world of Disney. An effective opening.
Many group numbers followed, featuring club skaters. At Ice Crystals, they often set the group numbers in sequences with thematically related routines. The first act of this year’s show featured three “Disney princess” group numbers with the club’s beginning skaters. Lots of little girls dressed up as Cinderella, Snow White, and Jasmine! It was cute–and a great way to get the younger kids involved. 🙂 Meanwhile, a number for older skaters was called “Villains” and saw them playing different Disney villains (including Ursula from The Little Mermaid, complete with wig, tentacles, and great comic timing).
The Disney theme carried into the solo numbers as well, with some skaters using Disney music. Ice Crystals features many individual soloists, most of whom skate “mini-solos”, perhaps 2 minutes in length. (The better-known soloists do longer routines.) Colonial FSC has so many skaters competing at Juvenile level and above that 18 skaters did short solos in the Saturday night show—with another 18 skaters slated to perform the next day, on Sunday.
Among the skaters who did short solos on Saturday night, I particularly enjoyed Arianna Concepcion, who had good lines and nice, clear movement; she performed a double Axel and triple toe loop (fall). Also memorable was Kayleigh Stevens, who skated a lovely number to Beauty and the Beast. Lily Rauh showed nice extension in her routine, landing double Axel and double flip.
Young “mini-pair” Caitlin Levine/Bryan Lehman skated a very appealing number with a throw single Axel, side-by-side double flips and double loops, a shoulder lift, and a dance lift. I was told Caitlin/Bryan are a new team. But they show promise, with good unison, musicality, and partnering for their age.
There were quite a few standouts among the skaters doing longer solos. Joyce Gong skated an attractive number featuring a lovely layback Biellmann spin. Elizabeth Christ had nice presentation in her “Cell Block Tango” routine. Liddy Kasraian, a graduating senior, skated to Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” and showed nice edges and good skating skills. Her double flip and combination spin had nice speed. Liddy will transition to intercollegiate skating next year.
Anna Pettersen/TJ Carey (Nationals, Intermediate dance) showed a section of their new free dance. It’s a strong, dramatic piece, with striking costumes (dark purple dress for Anna, all-black outfit for TJ). Anna/TJ did a fine set of twizzles, with quite good synchronization and ice coverage, and a nice dance spin. The split rotational lift was attractive, but could cover more ice. Their free dance looks good so far! TJ said that they will move up to novice level this season and will do 2 pattern dances (instead of the short dance that juniors/seniors perform). This year’s pattern dances are the Argentine tango and quickstep; of the two, TJ prefers quickstep. As of now, Petterson/Carey hope to compete at Chesapeake Open and Lake Placid this spring/summer.
I always enjoy watching Ryan Van Doren (E. Sectionals, Novice men). Ryan is a very strong skater artistically, with great flexibility and flow. He skated an appealing routine to Switchfoot’s “This Is Home,” landing a triple Salchow and (I think) a triple toe loop. He also did a nice camel spin.
Julia Kierul (E. Sectionals, Juvenile ladies) showed a lot of promise in her solo number. Julia landed a clean triple loop and a double Axel with nice, fast rotation. She also did a fast back sitspin/I-spin. Julia has very neat, precise movement and a self-contained look on the ice She could use more speed and power, but that will likely come as she grows and develops. Definitely a skater to watch.
Aimee Buchanan, who represents Israel, made a trip up from Texas to appear in the show. After training at Colonial for her entire career, Aimee recently relocated to the Dallas area to work with Darlene and Peter Cain. She skated a beautiful program to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” Aimee has good skating skills, lovely spins, and a lot of expressiveness on the ice. Compared to the younger skaters, she just has that extra level of polish and sophistication that comes from competing at the senior level internationally; there’s more attention to detail in her skating. I really enjoyed watching her! Aimee said that she’s having 2 new programs choreographed and has been working with the Cains for about a month. Their main focus is trying to add a triple/triple combination to her short program, to increase her base value. Aimee will compete at Nebelhorn Trophy this fall to try and win one of the 6 remaining Olympic ladies slots for Israel.
Kassandra Carpentier was the 2015 National Intermediate champion and placed 7th in Novice Ladies at Eastern Sectionals last year. Kassie is 14 now and will move up to juniors this year. She skated a nice, lyrical routine to “The Winner Takes It All,” landing a double loop and double Salchow. She had a fluke fall on her final spin, but was otherwise clean.
Iris Zhao was the 2014 National Juvenile champion and placed 9th in Novice Ladies at 2017 Eastern Sectionals. Iris was in great form at the show. Skating to the soft, gentle Disney song “Baby Mine,” she was lovely to watch. Iris landed a very good triple toe loop and a nice, smooth double Axel. She had good positions in her combo spin and great flow & speed on the ice. Her performance was one of my favorites in the show.
Erika Smith & AJ Reiss, who were 7th at U.S. Nationals this season in senior pairs, train with the Skate Pairs program at the Boxborough rink. They skated to “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins, sung by guest vocalist Courtney Furno. Erika/AJ showed off their lifting skills in this program, with a nice strong carry lift to start, and a flip-up dance lift. Erika fell on the throw double Salchow, but they recovered with a complex closing lift. Erika’s star/stag positions were lovely, and AJ had good momentum in the lift. AJ/Erika have a nice look together and showed good unison. It was great to see them!
Erika confirmed that they’re keeping their “Tiny Dancer” SP from last year and will have a new Beauty and the Beast LP. They really enjoyed working with choreographer Julie Marcotte on their new long program, and were heading up to Montreal this week for more work with Julie. Erika said that last season was challenging, due to illness and injuries; this year, they’re hoping for a calmer season and fewer obstacles. They will likely compete mostly on the east coast this spring/summer, possibly at Chesapeake Open and Cranberry Open. They hope for international assignments this fall.
The special guest star for this year’s show was Shawn Sawyer, 2006 Olympian and former Canadian national/Grand Prix medalist. Show directors Sheryl Frank and Chad Brennan were excited to have Shawn as guest star. Chad said that many Colonial skaters were inspired by seeing Shawn at the Evening with Champions show in Boston last year, and Sheryl echoed this sentiment, saying she feels it’s important to expose young skaters to the level of artistry that Shawn brings to the sport.
Shawn’s first number was set to “We Speak No Americano” by Yolanda B. Cool & DCUP. The driving rhythm of this song is challenging; however, Shawn not only kept up with it, but dazzled the crowd with his unique & original moves. What’s so fun about Shawn’s skating is he does stuff that you just don’t see from other skaters. He performed his signature spin in a full back split position, as well as a cantilever, unusual camel spin, and an intentional-fall move into a cartwheel! Not only that, he landed a back flip, triple loop (2-ft), and triple Salchow.
Shawn skated his second program to the upbeat Latin song “Bailar.” Again, he showed great extension and musicality, as well as originality. One of the featured moves was a long spiral in full split position, which Shawn carried to a turning stop. He also did a nice camel spin, another back flip, a triple loop, and a great, smooth double Axel. Shawn really reaches out and projects to the audience, and got a great round of applause.
Afterward, Shawn said that springtime is a busy season for him. He spends most of his weeks doing choreography for junior-level national and international skaters, and performs in shows on weekends. Shawn said that he has an exciting new professional opportunity coming up soon, with details to be announced in July.
Altogether, this year’s Ice Crystals was an enjoyable and successful show. It was great to see some of the up-and-coming skaters at Colonial, and of course it’s always a treat to enjoy Shawn Sawyer’s creative and exciting skating! The show was smoothly produced and a pleasure to watch. If you’re in the Boston area next spring, you might want to check out next year’s edition of Ice Crystals!
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