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Kahle, Dierking Win in Novice

January 08, 2002|MIKE TERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

One performer continued a hot season and another made history at the U.S. figure skating novice championships Monday.

Danielle Kahle of Thousand Oaks, who led the competition after Sunday's short program, held off Natalie Mecher and Lisa Danmiller in the free skate to win the novice women's title.

It was a third consecutive first-place finish this year for Kahle, 12, who won the novice Pacific Coast Championships and Southwest Pacific Regionals before taking national honors at the Sports Arena.

Mecher (second) and Danmiller (third) performed admirably but could not catch Kahle, who had no dramatic errors or falls during her three-minute program.

"Once I got over the hard jumps I could just enjoy the rest of the program," Kahle said. "I wasn't worried about winning or losing, I just wanted to skate my best."

In the novice men's division, Robert Dierking of Jamestown, N.Y., also avoided major mistakes in his free-skating program to overtake Jason Wong for the men's title.

In doing so Dierking, 13, who was third after the short program, became the first skater to win a juvenile, intermediate and novice championship in successive years.

He was the juvenile winner in 1999, and the intermediate winner in 2000.

His lone moment of trepidation came during a triple lutz, double toe loop combination. On his second landing Dierking nearly fell, but kept his balance, and nailed every jump that followed.

"About three-fourths of the way through [the program] I knew I had done well," Dierking said.

Dierking then watched four other top skaters fall during their free-skating programs.

Wong, who slipped hard on the ice during warmups, fell twice during his free skate to finish second.

Evan Gibbs, ninth after the short program, had a strong effort in the free skate and finished third.

In other championship finals, Katie Boxwell and A. Williams Sears won the novice pairs title, and Sarah Solomon and Benjamin Cohen won the novice dance title.

Shaun Rogers took the lead after the short program of the junior men's championships at Staples Center.

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