Open Standard Professional Championship

Judi Hatton
Jun 15, 2001
Twenty three couples braved the late night - or, more accurately, early morning - start of this big championship event to dance the quarter-final round, despite the fact that it was 3:15am for the many teams who had journeyed from the East Coast. Nevertheless, even with the late hour, there appeared to be no loss of enthusiasm from either the dancers or the audience, most of whom remained in the ballroom until the prize giving.

A very tight competition in that, from the first round, the six finalists were fairly obvious, leaving very little room for marks to go to the other couples trying to make either the semifinal round or that most difficult cut from twelve to six. Two of the US National Championship finalists were not dancing, resulting in an interesting and slightly different final from the one in Provo just one month earlier.

Winning the title very easily, the US National Champions, Jonathan Wilkins & Katusha Demidova, NY, NY who continue to go from strength to strength. They are developing a togetherness in their action, which enhances their ability to produce power and speed, and on this night they just ate up the floor, giving up only a single first place mark from a possible 75.

Second place was taken by Igor & Irina Suvorov, Huntington Beach, CA the hometown favorites. Not perhaps their best night, they seemed to be experiencing some difficulty, but still convincing enough to take second in all dances. Irina wore a most beautiful pale yellow gown that glowed on the floor. It was my favorite dress of the week.

Into third, Igor & Polina Pillipenchuk, Baltimore, MD who were third in all dances and not really in contention for higher placement. The judges gave them everything from 3rd to 6th place, and although this may seem to the uninitiated as if the judges were confused, in fact, depending on when you looked at them, it is an accurate reflection of their performance.

In fourth place Gary & Diana McDonald, Fairfield, NJ - 4,4,5,5,4. I felt that Gary & Diana had a good night overall. Although the standard division is not their strongest style, they showed well in this final and demonstrated a marked improvement in their foxtrot and a dynamic quickstep. With no lack of energy, they were one of the few couples who appeared not to be at all effected by the late hour.

Fifth were Igor Litvinov & Julia Ivleva, Milburn, NJ - 5,5,4,4,5. This couple is something of an enigma. Tall, elegant and obviously talented, they are not always able to fulfill their promise in the final round. Shape and poise are areas that could be improved upon to ensure future results.

Completing the final Oleg Suvorov & Tatiana Pavlova, Stanton, CA - 6,6,6,6,6. With 56 marks into the final round Oleg and Tatiana were easy finalists. They are a very pleasing pair who continue to show improvement, but would ?show? better on the floor if the material used were structured to better demonstrate the ?light and shade? aspect of the dances.

The semi-finalist pair with the most marks into the final was Eddie Stutts and Vicka Belova, Houston, TX, who managed to ?steal? a total of 15 of those precious final marks from the top six. Not surprisingly, the majority was for their Quickstep, which is an excellent dance for them.

Also in the semi-final round, it was good to see Wendi Davies, NY, NY, with a new partner. Following what appears to be a trend, Wendi has paired with a gentleman from Italy, Giacomo Agrello, and I believe that this may have been their first competitive appearance. It is an interesting pairing, and time will tell how the team will fare.

All the dancers are to be congratulated for producing some very fine dancing at the late hour; I feel sure that everyone in the ballroom appreciated the quality of this prestigious championship event.

Judi Hatton is the First Vice President of the NDCA. A former North American and Classique du Quebec Champion, Judi now lives in Florida and is an active coach, adjudicator and competition organizer.