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BY COLETTE A. HARRIS Christina Carreira, 18, and Anthony

Ponomarenko, 17, finished first or second in every major event they competed in last season. Tey won the junior ice dance title at the

Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships. Tey captured both of their Junior Grand Prix Series events, in Austria and Belarus. Tey claimed the silver medal at the Junior Grand Prix Final, secured gold at the 2018 U.S. Championships, and capped off the whirlwind season with a sil- ver medal at the World Junior Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. “Te Junior Grand Prix Final was the high- light [of the season]. It was in Japan, and it was such a cool country to see. Te whole event was just incredible,” Carreira said.

Te season was filled with many memora- ble moments, but for Ponomarenko, winning their first Junior Grand Prix event and becom- ing national champions in his hometown of San Jose, California, stood out. “It was great. Te audience was supportive and I had a lot of friends come in to watch,” said Ponomarenko, who has skating in his blood. His parents, Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, are 1992 Olympic champions in ice dance.

Last season’s short dance and free dance

featured contrasting styles, which gave Carreira and Ponomarenko the opportunity to showcase their versatile performing skills. Teir short dance to “Perhaps” by the Pussycat Dolls and “Conga” by Gloria Estefan was a Latin mix that highlighted the connection they have with one another. Teir free dance to selections from the W.E. soundtrack showed a much more sophisticated and elegant side. Both programs showed off how technically strong each skater is and how well they’re both able to express music from deep within themselves, two aspects their coach, Igor Shpilband, said that set them apart from other teams. “Tey’re very natural skaters — the feel of the edges, feel of the ice, the way they’re using the ice and power of skating all comes pretty naturally for them,” Shpilband said. “Tey really stand out with the way the blade approaches the ice. To me, it makes a lot of difference and you don’t see that very often.” Carreira and Ponomarenko train with

Shpilband in Novi, Michigan. Tis summer they are also working with Pasquale Camerlen- go and several other top coaches in Shpilband’s camp, including Barbara Fusar-Poli, Fabian Bourzat and Greg Zuerlein. Shpilband said all the coaches have noticed how well Carreira and Ponomarenko work together and how hard they’re willing to train. He added that they’re two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. “Every coach who works with them notices


Carreira and Ponomarenko take strong chemistry into senior ranks

how willing they are to try new things, how easy they are to work with and how enthusiastic they are with making corrections,” Shpilband said. Tis year the team will move up to the senior ranks. Tey know that the competition will be fierce and that the climb to the top of the U.S. podium is steep, but Carreira and Ponomarenko are up for the challenge. “After winning the U.S. junior title and being on the podium twice at Junior Worlds, I felt they did a lot in juniors. I’d like them to be competitive at the senior level. I think they’re ready to go to senior,” Shpilband said. Carreira is excited to compete against older couples, as they were at the top of the age bracket for the junior level at the end of last season. “It’s a new step,” Ponomarenko said. One aspect of their skating that Carreira

hopes to improve on this season is their consis- tency, something she said they struggled with last year. Te goal is to skate cleanly, without mistakes, at every competition. “We always want to improve our skating

skills. We want to show better lifts this year, new elements and improve our consistency,” Carreira said. While representing the United States at the

2022 Olympic Games is their long-term goal, Carreira and Ponomarenko hope to prove that they are capable of holding their own as seniors while gaining experience competing at that level. Te goal: to finish in the top five at the U.S. Championships. “Senior is a giant ladder. It’s a large climb

to the top and we just want to climb that lad- der,” Ponomarenko said. Shpilband feels that the bond Carreira and

Ponomarenko share will help them meet their goals.

“Tey have a very special relationship,”

Shpilband said. “Tey work really well together and support each other. As they grow up and as they mature, I feel that relationship getting stronger and stronger. I’m really pleased to see how they’re developing as a team.”

Anthony Ponomarenko stand on top of the podium in San Jose.

Christina Carreira @ccarreira03 (Twitter) @christinacarreira (Instagram)

Christina Carreira, who is from Montreal, is completing her high school diploma online. The subjects she enjoys most are math and science. Her favorite way to spend a day off is hanging out with friends or spending time outdoors either paddleboarding or by the pool. She has a Maltipoo named Charlie and a chinchilla named Tiffany. Her favorite country to travel to has been Japan, and her favorite city is Paris. “I love the atmosphere of Paris.”

Anthony Ponomarenko @pom_pom9 (instagram)

Carreira and Ponomarenko, with coach Igor Shpilband, receive their scores at the World Junior Championships in Bulgaria.

Anthony is heading into his senior year of high school where his favorite subjects are history and science. His favorite way to spend a day off depends on the time of year. In the summer he enjoys spending time at the lake. He is a fan of the TV shows “Game of Thrones” and “White Collar.” Chinese Taipei has been his favorite place to visit as a skater, and a few of his favorite vacation spots are Florida and Nice, France.

Christina Carreira and



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