The Windy City Open 2024

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Windy City Open

With the storm hovering over Chicago, with many flights being delayed or canceled, the stress of how smoothly the weekend at the Windy City Open would go was questionable.

But with the start of a new day, the weather also calmed, allowing all to enjoy an exceptional weekend of dancing. The Ballroom was beautiful, the energy - vibrant, and the attention to every detail was not left unnoticed.

The Pro-am divisions were well attended, with some great semifinals in all styles as well as few rule 11 ties in the final results.

Friday and Saturday evenings shared the four professional categories. Friday night was all about the Ballroom and Rhythm.

The Professional Ballroom was supposed to be a semifinal but with a few couples canceling last minute it turned into a seven-couple final. Perhaps the smallest of the events but one with some wonderful energy. The easy winners were Igor and Valeria Mikushov who graced the floor with much confidence from the first dance on, losing only a few first place marks. Second in all went to Riccardo Conte and Eleonora Filippi. From our perspective, they had a great night, very consistent and powerful. Third in all were Nazar Batih and Mariko Cantley with a clean performance (33333). Fourth - Jakub Sawicki and Dagmara Milek (44444). Fifth were Oleksandr Kremenchutskyi and Alexandra Babenko - (55555). Sixth - Oleg and Mishka Teleha (66666). Seventh - Illia Sorokin and Anastasia Shaparenko (77777).

The Open Professional Rhythm was hotly contested, starting with a quarter-final. With three of the top couples present and another new partnership debuting, this was a very promising event from the get go. The final six couples were chosen by the adjudicators and their placements were as follows.

First in every dance went to the current Rhythm Champions, Francesco Arietta and Jessa Mae Briones, easy winners, losing only a couple of first place marks in every dance. Second in all dances were Andrew Escolme and Asta Sigvaldodottir whose dancing and musicality is quite infectious. Third were Ivan Kudashev and Ksenia Sokolova, probably the most improved couple on the floor. Fourth went to the crowd favorites - Gene and Elena Bersten. Fifth and sixth places were the closest contested couples, fifth going to Ryan and Danelle Lockhart (65655) and sixth going to the new partnership of Ilie Bardahan and Anna Zotova (56566),
somewhat row yet very promising.

The Professional Latin and Smooth on Saturday night were the highlights of the evening schedule including the show by the World and European Boogie Woogie, Swing and Lindy-Hop Champions, Nils Andren and Bianca Locatelli. This show was a great addition to the night, allowing attendees to enjoy not only our usual ballroom categories but another form of couple dancing as well.

Both the Latin and Smooth commenced with a fantastic quarter-final round, where each couple was pushing for the next round by putting on their best performance of the night.

Although the Latin started from a quarter-final, the Adjudicators didn’t have a difficult time placing these final six couples. The consensus was unanimous in the final marks and clear cut. The top six finalists for the Latin were as follows:

The ultimate winners with an easy and confident performance were Andrey and Amanda Besyedin (1,1,1,1,1). Second went to Sasha Porozov and Arina Sokolova (2,2,2,2,2). Third were the new kids on the Professional block, Max Firestein and Nicole Mtchedlidze (3,3,3,3,3). Their energy left us wondering as to how high the judges would push them in their first event with the big fish. Fourth went to Kostiantyn Samarskyi and Margarita Golubova (4,4,4,4,4). Fifth - Dmitrii Chopenko and Valeria Khrapak. (5,5,5,5,5) Sixth - Kelvin Ong and Masha Kozobrod (6,6,6,6,6,).

The Professional Smooth was perhaps the most contested event, where marks were all over the place. The winners of the night, were the ever glamorous duet of Aleksandar Vukosavljekic and Alexandra Smirnova. Although the easy winners on the given night, with the attitude of champions every step of the way, this was not their best night for dancing. Perhaps due to the smaller size or crowding on the floor, there was more posing than dancing, making it harder for a more objective marking, if we were not taking into account the absolutely stunning look and prior performances, or even your expectations as to where a couple should place prior to the actual performance. Second and third were determined by rule 11. Igor and Meghan Afonkin came out in the second place (3,3,2,2) over Leonid Burlo and Maria Usan (2,2,3,3) who finished in third. These couples were separated by just a handful of marks that could have changed the results entirely. It seemed to be a battle between traditional quality and creativity. Fourth through six in this final saw marks all over the place and each couple taking dances from each other Finishing into the fourth place spot,and with the hometown crowd cheering them on were Vladyslav and Brianna Nalyvaychuk (4,5,4,5). Fifth went to Stefan Badea and Whitney Myers (6,4,5,4), the winners of the Rising Star division from the night before. Rounding out this excellent final was Radek Wiatrowski and Denise Sobiewski (5,6,6,6)

After what could have been just another weekend affected by weather delays and cancellations, The Windy City Open went off without issues. It had record-breaking entries and attendance and the organizer Emil Ioukhnikov was there accommodating each and every participant who attended. We commend his attention to detail and gracious hospitality and wish him nothing but the best and great success in the years to come.

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