FALMOUTH — Eight years have passed since a Maine figure skater has won a national medal.

A red-headed freshman from Yarmouth and a seventh-grader from Westbrook have a chance to break that drought this weekend.

In one of their final tune-ups before leaving Thursday for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Franz-Peter Jerosch and Julia Curran leaped, twirled and sashayed Monday night through their 2-minute, 40-second routine to instrumental strains from “Man of La Mancha.”

Performing before an appreciative audience of friends and admirers at the Family Ice Center, the 14-year-old Jerosch and 12-year-old Curran skated like they’ve been together for years instead of a mere 11 months.

“They have a shot at being on the podium,” said Kristin Andrews, a Yarmouth native and former skater who has been working with Jerosch and Curran since November, after they placed second in the Eastern sectionals in Simsbury, Connecticut. “We haven’t seen what other pairs are doing, but based on the way they’re skating with their elements, they’ve been clean. They’ve really been working on making a good connection on the ice. And if they make you feel comfortable and happy when you watch them, you’ll think, ‘Wow, they’re good.’ ”

Jerosch, who sprouted 7 inches in the past year and now stands a shade over 6 feet, is a freshman at Yarmouth High. Curran, a foot shorter, is a seventh-grader at St. Brigid School in Portland. They will skate late Saturday night at the Bloomington Ice Garden outside of Minneapolis.

In juvenile pairs – the lowest of figure skating’s five levels – the top four teams from the Eastern, Midwestern and Pacific Coast sectionals advance to nationals. Judges award gold, silver, bronze and pewter medals.

Jerosch and Curran skated together in only one competition – the Cranberry Open in Dennis, Massachusetts, in August – before winning silver in Simsbury. Until sectionals, they had been traveling to Boxborough, Massachusetts, one day a week to train with coaches Bobby Martin and Carrie Wall of the Skating Club of Boston.

This marks the third straight trip to nationals for Jerosch. He placed eighth among juvenile boys as a singles skater in 2014 in Boston, and eighth in juvenile pairs last winter in Greensboro, North Carolina, with partner Lindsey Stevenson of Southborough, Massachusetts.

Instead of moving up a level to intermediate pairs with Stevenson, who is 3 years older, Jerosch opted to find a younger partner easier to handle in lifts and throws. That Curran lived nearby was a bonus.

“Our families have been friends for a while,” Jerosch said. “With most pair teams, the guy is older than the girl. We tried it together and it felt right.”

One reason why they clicked is that Curran, like Jerosch, spins clockwise in her jumps. Most skaters – about 85 percent – spin counterclockwise.

“I’m one of the few skaters back in Maine who’s small enough to be lifted and skates in his direction,” Curran said. “It doesn’t have to do with what hand you write with, it’s which leg is dominant.”

Jerosch got his start on skates as a 5-year-old who had to sit out swim classes because of ear tubes that couldn’t get wet. Curran also started skating at 5 after trying it at a friend’s birthday party, although she already had experience with in-line skates.

“I had been Roller-Blading since I was 3 or 4,” she said. “I would do it in my grandpa’s driveway (in Westbrook) and he would get dizzy watching me.”

Curran has never been to nationals. Like Jerosch, she also competes as an individual. At the New England Regional in Boxborough in October, while Jerosch placed second of six intermediate men, Curran competed in a field of 92 juvenile girls and wound up sixth. Only the top four skaters advanced to sectionals, where Jerosch, who fell on an ankle that had been giving him problems since a painful sprain earlier in the season, placed 11th out of 12.

The pairs competition at sectionals featured nine juvenile teams. Jerosch and Curran won a special pin for achieving the highest marks on their side-by-side spin and earned a score of 35.07 points. Of the dozen teams that qualified for nationals, only the three sectional winners and the Pacific Coast runners-up scored higher. However, since Andrews came aboard, Jerosch and Curran have been able to train more regularly in Maine. She helped them add difficulty in the form of an overhead loop lift, a throw axel (instead of a throw loop) and a double flip/double loop combination that had been a double/single combo.

On Monday night, they performed all their new elements flawlessly, including the overhead lift (with three revolutions) that was added last week.

“At sectionals, their throw was much smaller; it was more like she jumped and he put his arms out as a follow through,” said Anita Jerosch, Franz-Peter’s mom. “This time, he’s chucking her!”

Although a medal would be nice, both skaters said their main goal is to perform a clean program.

“I personally find nationals less stressful than sectionals or regionals,” Jerosch said. “It’s a different environment. Everyone’s happy that they made it to nationals and they’re really excited to see the older skaters compete, too.”

Curran said she usually zones out during competition and doesn’t think about anything at all. She also said Jerosch is the serious half of the partnership.

“No sense of humor at all,” she said with a laugh. “He’s really serious. I’m kind of crazy. I do take it seriously, but I just like to have fun with it.”

Andrews said her young pair share a strong work ethic and a passion for figure skating.

“They’ve developed their friendship and they have fabulous personalities out on the ice,” she said.

Actually, their 10-year-old brothers, Daniel Curran and Hans-Erik Jerosch, are even better buddies. When they learned last February that their older siblings would be partners, “Hans and Daniel thought they had won the lottery,” said Allison Curran, Julia’s mother.

The odds of winning a medal Saturday night are much higher. But even if Jerosch and Curran don’t bring something shiny back to Maine, their future on the ice is bright.

 


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