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The Ball at SFO 2019

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SFO Concludes with High Profile Contestants

The Ball at San Francisco Open concluded Sunday night and we saw some high profile contestants in the Open Pro Smooth and Latin.

Blackpool and US finalists, Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova were the certain favorites going into the Open Latin and they did indeed notch up a clear win. They almost achieved perfect scores (all first places), but this was prevented by judges Nigel Clark and Bill Sparks who gave them less than perfect. Similarly, Andrei Kazlouski & Asta Sigvaldadottir were almost everybody’s choice for 2nd place but again a couple of judges prevented a perfect run, this time Nigel Clark and Brigitt Mayer. As to be expected, from here down the judges’ scores became a little more mixed, but Canada’s Alexey & Vlada Karaulov were comfortably 3rd in all dances. Also from Canada, Alon Gilin & Anna Oblakova were 4th in all dances. 5,5,5,6,5, gave Roman Italyankin & Sasha Bokova 5th spot overall; Sasha Althukov & Cheyenne Murillo were 6th 6,7,7,5,6 and Lukas Alisauskas & Simona Alisauskas were 7th 7,6,6,7,7.

Hans Galke will have a report on this division

The Pro Smooth was also impressive, although a straight final, with several of the country’s leading contenders present. US Champions, Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija, fairly easily fended off the challengers winning all dances with the majority of 1st places. 2nd in all dances went to Yegor Novikov & Alexandra Smirnova who picked up some firsts in all dances but never enough to challenge the winners. Their best scored dance was foxtrot. 3rd in all went to Slava Kostianets & Valeriia Kostianets, 4th in all to Enzo Zappia & Stephanie Betts and 5th in all to Stephen & Elisa McCann.

Maria Hansen will comment on this division for Dance Beat.

The Open Amateur Ballroom did not attract as many entries as the Latin. Artur Nabok & Michelle Yiu were the undisputed winners, losing only 1 first place mark in the whole competition. Chris Henzie & Rebecca Fernandez were 2nd in all; Robert Krabek & Leila Hofer were 3rd in all and Sean Lee & Alyssa Razmus were 4th in all.

For the pro-ams it was Ballroom day and the scholarships were danced in the evening sessions. The winners of the Open categories were: Careen Friedland w/ Slava Kostianets (Open C); Jennifer Lin w/ Radu Sterban (Open A); Pamela Melton w/ Stefano Placcidi (S1); Angela He w/ Julius Seniauskas (B).

The afternoon saw a large uptick in junior entries with some excellent dancing in all categories.

Former US Ballroom Champion, Stephen Cullip was presented with the annual SFO Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ballroom at the “Ball”

On Saturday night the Pro Ballroom headlined the Ball with 3 US finalists in attendance.

Those 3 couples, as expected, placed 1st through 3rd. The winners, in all dances, were Iaroslav & Lilia Bieliei. They had the majority of 1st places in 3 dances, but not in tango and VW.

Taking 2nd in all dances were Rudy Homm & Katya Kanevskaya. Their best scored dances were tango and quickstep, they received 5 of the 11 first place marks in each of those dances. With 3,5,3,3,4, Vladislav Shakhov & Ekaterina Popova held on to third spot, but had to be somewhat disappointed with their placements in tango and quickstep.

Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova were 4th with strong scores of 4,3,4,4,3. Rising Star winners, Oreste Alitto & Valeriia Belozerova were 5th in this final 5,4,5,5,5 and newcomers Mikhail Babenko & Kateryna Iaritenko were 6th in all dances.

Marat Gimaev will have a full report on this division later in Dance Beat

In the Pro Rhythm Danas Jaksevicius & Yuki Haraguchi had an easy time taking all 5 dances with a large majority of 1st places. Equally clear in the runner-up position were Shane & Shannon Jensen who had the majority of “2nd or better” scores in all dances. The closest split in the final was between 3rd and 4th places and it fell in the favor of Ryan Lockhart & Danelle Newman who scored 4,3,4,3,3 over Toshko Kondov & Kristen Dobson 3,4,3,4,4. The remaining 3 finalists finished in the same position in all dances: Antonio Nunez & Oksana Kashkina 5th, Todd Munson & Ricci-Lee Hotz 6th and Andrew Belbin & Erin Scully 7th.

Bill Sparks has the full review on this division.

Shane & Shannon Jensen won the Pro Cabaret division. Nazar Batih & Mariko Cantley were 2nd and Antonio Nunez & Oksana Kashkina were 3rd.

The other major event of the night was the Amateur Latin. This produced an international win with Joel Lopez & Kristina Bespechnova of Spain the comfortable winners taking 1st in all dances with a majority of first places in all dances. Nikolai Tarasov & Sarah Nolan were 2nd in all dances, but it was quite close in 2 dances – samba and rumba. In these dances they did not have the majority of “2nd or better” scores. Ewoud Fidom & Melanie Weiler were the couple pushing them and they took 3rd in all dances. Bumchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets were 4th in all; Giulio Ferrante & Lidia Martinez Espinosa 5th in all and Andriy Besyedin & Amanda Besyedin were 6th in all.

Darina Jeleva will have a full report on this division.

It was a very busy day for the pro-ams who danced 2 styles – Smooth and Latin. The Open Scholarships were held in the evening session. Notable winners were Careen Friedland w/ Slava Kostaniets (C Smooth); Patricia Schneider w/ Slawek Souchaki (A & B Smooth).

In the Latin - Estefania Papadopulos w/ Paul Richardson (A Latin); Wendy Hutto w/ Jake Davis (B Latin); Sherry Dong w/ Dmitry Ilyushenov (C Latin).

Stay tuned for more from The Ball at SFO as the results become available.

The Ball is Rising!

Last night it was all about the Pro Rising Star Divisions at “The Ball at San Francisco Open.”

We saw all 4 styles last night, all were finals. The judges were fairly decided in the Smooth and Rhythm categories, but less so in the Ballroom and Latin.

The first up was the Rhythm and this was the smallest of the 4, with only 3 couples entered. The win was an easy one for Antonio Nunez & Oksana Kashkina who won all 5 dances with large majorities of 1st places from the judges. Runners-up were Todd Munson & Ricci-Lee Hotz and they were 2nd in all dances, leaving 3rd to Andrew Belbin & Erin Scully.

Next up was the Ballroom and here we had a split decision from the judges. By 3 dances to 2, the winners were Oreste Alitto & Valeriia Belozerova 2,1,1,2,1. They had scores down to 4th places in all dances. They had the majority of 1st places in the dances they won. The runners-up were Mikhail Babenko & Kateryna Iaritenko 1,2,2,1,2. This is a new couple to us. They did not have the majority of 1st places in the 2 dances they won. 3rd were Woodrow Wills & Neli Petkova, 4,3,3,3,3; 4th Robert Nemiro & Lydia Miner-Voigt 3,4,4,4,4; 5th Robbie Cromwell & Ruth Trimble 5,5,5,5,5.

The Latin was also fairly contentious. The winners tonight were Roman Drobotov & Liya Kazbekova and they placed 1,1,2,1,1 but had the majority of 1st places only in jive. In fact the judges’ 1st place marks were spread around several of the finalists. Przemyslaw Modrzynski & Magdalena Zybura took second 2,3,1,2,2. Dmitry Barov & Joanna Meller were 3rd 3,2,3,3,4; 4th Rhett Grant & Shelby Wadsworth 4,4,4,4,3; 5th Sergei Panchenko & Natalia Zakrevskaia 5,5,5,5,6; 6th Jordan Seawright & Tjasa Novak 6,6,6,6,5.

As we said at the beginning, the Smooth gave a fairly settled result and the winners, Stephen McCann & Elisa McCann won all dances with a majority of 1st places but to our surprise, did pick up a few scores in the lower half of the final. However, from there down the results were very mixed if you looked at the individual judges’ scores, but strangely consistent in the final summary. The runners up were Illia Sydorenko & Tetyana Kuts and they ended up 2nd in all dances. John Holzworth & Nicole Wooding were 3rd in all and 4th in all were Nikolay Kralev & Julianne DiBacco Daniells. Antonio Nunez & Oksana Kashkina were 5th 6,5,5,5; 6th Ivan Spasov & Sabine Blyth 5,6,6,6; 7th Robbie Cromwell & Ruth Trimble 7,7,7,7.

Stay tuned for more from SFO tomorrow.

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