by Anne Calder | Photo by Daphne Backman

The Lake Placid Olympic Center, built for the 1980 Olympics, hosted the second annual Lake Placid Ice Dance International (LPIDI) – an ISU Minimum Technical Score event – July 28-29.

Teams representing Austria, Brazil, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Korea, Poland, Spain, and the United States competed.

Short Dance:
Olivia Smart & Adria Diaz of Spain took the lead (62.32) with their energetic performance to “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner. Smart & Diaz teamed up this past December and LPIDI marks their international debut as a team.  Smart previously competed with Joseph Buckland for Great Britain and Diaz with Sara Hurtado for their native Spain.  In January 2016, the National Ice Skating Association of Great Britain released Smart a month after she and Diaz had formed a partnership. They train in Montreal, Canada.

Elliana Pogrebinsky & Alex Benoit of the United States skated a fun and entertaining performance to “Trouble” by Elvis Presley. The team received 58.14 for their efforts and were just over four points behind the leaders.  Pogrebinsky & Benoit moved to the senior ranks after placing fourth at the 2016 World Junior Championships, so LPIDI is their senior international debut.

Finishing in third, Korea’s Yura Min & Alexander Gamelin were the only team of the top three to present a program featuring hip hop to accompany their blues.  The team scored 55.14 for their performance which also featured a costume change when they shifted rhythms.  This season is their second as a team.  Prior to his current partnership with Min, Gamelin represented the USA for fifteen years with his twin sister Danielle. Min, born in California, competed on the junior level for the USA with Igor Ogay prior to skating for South Korea with Tim Koleto.

The top three teams as well as Julia Biechler & Damian Dodge of the United States, and Canada’s Mackenzie Bent & Dmitre Razgulajevs and Alexa Linden & Addison Voldeng obtained the ISU technical minimum required to compete at the World Championships.

Free Dance:
Pogrebinsky & Benoit skated an ethereal program to selections from “Sadko” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Peter Gabriel’s, “The Feeling Begins”. The team earned a 94.04 score and a total 152.22. They won the gold medal in their senior international debut.

“We were very happy with our performances,” Benoit said.  “It’s always like coming home when we get to skate in Lake Placid –what a better place to compete in our first senior event.”

Smart & Diaz performed to Italian pianist and film-score composer Ludovico Einaudi’s “Experience”. The program choreographed by Marie-France Dubreuil scored 83.17. The team earned a total 145.49 points and won the silver medal.

Yura Min & Alexander Gamelin (KOR) won the bronze (and their first international medal) with a dramatic interpretation of music from the1988 Italian film soundtrack, Cinema Paradiso. The performance received 83.70 points and a total 138.84 score.

Both Min & Gamelin and Pogrebinsky & Benoit train with Igor Shpilband, Fabian Bourzat, and Greg Zuerlein in Novi, Michigan.

In their senior international debuts, Canada’s Mackenzie Bent & Dmitre Razgulajevs finished fourth with Julia Biechler & Damian Dodge of the U.S. finishing fifth.

Germany’s Katharina Müller & Tim Dieck and Tatiana Kozmava & Oleksii Shumskyi of Georgia withdrew from the event after the short dance