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2013 World Junior Championships

Tech Panel Heavy Handed n the Arrows as Russian Pixies Sweep the Medals

 by Alexandra Stevenson

Elena Radionova (RUS), 2013 World Junior Champion

Yesterday I skated for the first time in this arena and I wasn’t really used to it. Today I tried the ice in practice and felt more confident at that ice rink, maybe that made the difference. I expected to move up, maybe not to the first place, but into the top three. (on the difference of the ice between the main rink and the practice) I liked the ice rink (main rink), because I don’t like grey and dark ice rinks. I prefer the light, colourful rinks, they set a better mood right away. The ice in the other rink was also good, but you have to adjust a little bit. The ice is different in each rink. But I don’t want to complain about the ice, I think it was even better than at the practice rink. I think the ice in the main rink is a little softer. (on her idols) My idols are Yuna Kim, Mao Asada and Carolina Kostner. I like how easily the skate and jump.

(on being already very expressive in spite of her young age) I think that I have been very expressive since childhood, maybe I was even more expressive then.

Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS), 2013 World Junior silver medalist

In the short program thinking too much, going into the combination there were so many thoughts. I was so nervous before the short like I’ve never done that in my life before. I went out with a completely different mindset for the free skating. I went through the program until the last jump, thinking about nothing and then everything came out together. In the footwork, I just wanted to laugh and to cry at the same time. It was a strange feeling. I had it for the first time. (on her health after coming off injuries) Yes, I had some injuries but this in the past now and it is over. After the Russian Junior Nationals a normal preparation started, normal run-throughs and jumps. Everything comes back to how it was before or even came back already, I’d say. (on her idols) I said exactly the same (as Elena Radionova) before. My idols haven’t changed. (on being already very expressive in spite of her young age) I wasn’t like that from childhood on. I am just skating what I am feeling, that’s all.

Anna Pogorilaya (RUS), 2013 World Junior bronze medalist

Contrary to the other girls I wasn’t nervous at all, neither in the short nor in the long program. I went out with a cool head and my goal was to show what I prepared for and what I had come here for. It wasn’t about surpassing everyone in the world, but to show what I am capable of and I was very serious about it. (on the difference of the ice between the main rink and the practice) I think the ice (in the main rink) was a softer (than at the practice rink) and it wasn’t so comfortable to skate after others because there were already a lot of tracings. But I think you cannot blame the ice. (on her idols) My idol is Yuna Kim. (on being already very expressive in spite of her young age) I was born like this but with time I started to develop it more and show it more to the audience.

(3 March 2013) 

Russians have won the World Junior Ladies title 11 times since Tatiana Andreev earned gold in 1985 in Colorado Springs. They have swept the podium three times, this year along with 1996 and 1998.

The very first winner, in 1976, was an American Suzie Brasher, but though Americans have won the title 14 times (including such illustrious names as Michelle Kwan in 1994 and Kristi Yamaguchi, who won both singles and pairs gold in Brisbane in 1996), U.S. Ladies have only swept the medals twice, in 2007 when Caroline Zhang won with Mirai Nagasu second and Ashley Wagner third. The following year Rachael Flatt won, Zhang was second and Nagasu third.

1.Overall 169.71; 1.FS 116.23 (62.07+54.16); Elena Radionova remarkably recovered from her fifth place after the Short Program, in which, on her first element, she was saddled with an arrow for slight under-rotation for the initial jump in her triple Lutz to triple toe loop combination, and then she fell on her second move, planned as a triple but which turned into a double flip, and was penalized with an “e” for wrong edge take-off. “I knew I could do much better in Free, but I didn’t expect to climb all the way up,” she said, clutching her gold medal.

Radionova, who turned 14 on January 6, said she had suffered from nerves and, although she didn’t want to blame the ice, said it was softer than she liked. But, even with her mistakes, her extremely flexible spins allowed her to establish a point score that was only 1.21 behind the initial section leader, Samantha Cesario from New Jersey. It was obviously going to be a very competitive Free Skate.

On Saturday evening, in the last competitive event, Radionova said she was less nervous and the ice suited her better. Performing her Free Skate to two pieces of music, “Country of Dead” and “Finally, I Love You”, second of the top group of six of the 24 competitors allowed to continue after the Short Program, Radionova left her challengers buried in ice chips.

The short but long-legged blonde was introduced to skating by her father when she was approaching her fourth birthday. He thought it would strengthen her legs which appeared weak. She has been trained by the same coach, Inna Goncharenko, in Moscow for her entire career. By the 2012 season, she was good enough to take part in the Russian senior championship, in which she finished fifth!

She was still too young to compete in ISU Junior competition, so her first international was the Triglav Novice Trophy in Slovenia in 2012, which she won, following in the skate tracings of 2010 Olympic champion Yu-na Kim, who won gold in this novice event in 2002.

In December, after winning her two Junior Grand Prix events, Radionova claimed gold in the Final in the arena where the Olympic figure skating will take place in Sochi, 11 points ahead of the American 16-year-old silver medalist Hannah Miller, who was 10th in this season’s U.S. Senior championship.

In this season’s Russian championship, Radionova finished second ahead of the defending champion, Adelina Sotnikova, while Alena Leonova, who won silver in the 2012 world championships was only seventh, one ahead of her teammate in Nice, Ksenia Markarova.  The Russian senior title was won by Elizaveta Tuktamysheva.

In Milan, Radionova won by a substantial 4.04 points, despite the Technical Panel giving her an arrow for slight under-rotation on the second jump of her opening move, a triple Lutz to triple toe loop, and “e’s” on the following two triple flips, the second of which was combined with a half loop to triple Salchow.

Her winning margin in just the Free Skate over last year’s winner, Lipnitskaya, who climbed from fourth after the Short Program to second overall with a Free Skate which was ranked second best, was 4.42. Lipnitskaya received 2.37 points less than Radionova for her Free Skate element score and 2.05 more for her components. Samantha Cesario was second in the components category with 1.80 marks less than the winner. A significant amount of witnesses voiced the opinion that this did not properly give the American her due.

As had been the case in the Short Program, all three of Radionova’s spins were the top Level 4, as was her step sequence, which had been only Level 3 in the Short Program. Her Free Skate steps also received a +3, which is the maximum Grade of Execution, from one judge while the rest of the panel entered +2. Radionova finished with her Layback spin for which eight of the nine judges punched in +3. That was two more than for her Short Program version. (The remaining judge punched in +2.)

2.Overall 165.67; 2.FS 111.81 (59.70+52.11) Julia Lipnitskaia, Russia, who had earned this title last year in Belarus, was the only Russian lady to return to this event. She did not compete in the Russian senior championship after suffering a concussion from a fall, or the Junior Grand Prix final.

Lipnitskaia, who turns 15 on May 6, is from Ekaterinburg, but her mother took her to Moscow to train with Eteri Tutberitze,  climbed up from fourth after the SP, with a well thought out routine to music from Tchaikovski’s ballet, “The Nutcracker”. She opened with a +1.10 double Axel to triple toe to double toe, followed by another double Axel to triple toe, which received +0.80 over its base value. Then came a triple Lutz and triple loop which both earned an extra +0.30. For the first of her three Level 4 spins, the flying camel, she earned +0.71. For the other two spins, which were her final two moves, she earned seven +3s and two +2s which meant she banked +1.43 points over their base values.

She did have three mistakes in the middle of the program, getting “e’s” for both her triple flips, the first of which was combined with a double toe loop. She also doubled her Salchow. Her straight line steps received Level 3, +0.57.

3.Overall 160.32; 3.FS 106.34 (56.56+49.78) Anna Pogorilaya, Russia, dropped a place from her Short Program placing, performing to the very fast and powerful “Phryne’s Dance” from the opera “Faust” by Charles Gounod, dressed in two shades of blue. Pogorilaya, who was born in Moscow, turned 14 on October 10. Skating last but one, she opened with a jump combination meant to be triple Lutz to triple toe loop to double toe loop, but she received an arrow for slight under-rotation of the second jump and couldn’t get airborne for the third. That lost her -1.40 off the base value of 10.10 of the two-jump combo.

Her second element, a double Axel to triple toe loop had -0.50 removed. However, the next three elements received positives: the Level 3 flying camel spin earned an extra +0.36, her second triple Lutz received +0.50, and the second double Axel +0.14. However, her triple Salchow, set at the halfway point where the 10% bonus clicks in, had -0.70 removed. After a Level 4 change foot combination spin, which got an extra +0.50, she attempted a triple flip to two double toe loops but got an “e” for wrong edge take-off on the flip and lost -0.70. Her triple loop had -1.30 removed from its base value, but the Level 3 straight line steps earned an extra +0.71. She brought the routine to an excellent finish with a +0.93 Level 4 layback spin. Her element score was the third best but her components were the fourth ranked, 2.58 points behind Cesario.

4.Overall 154.55; 4.FS 99.86 (47.50+52.36) Samantha Cesario, USA, was, naturally, very upset at being dropped so decisively out of the lead and off the podium. Skating last, she gave a beautiful showing to the music from the ballet, Swan Lake, used in the recent movie, “Black Swan”. Her routine included a +0.50 triple flip to double toe loop; a Level 3 +0.29 flying sit spin; a +0.70 second triple flip; a Level 3, +0.50 layback spin; a Level 3, +0.86 step sequence; and a +0.36 concluding Level 1 change foot combination spin.

It was an extremely enjoyable performance but the “Techs”, with their up-close video equipment, penalized her with an “e” for wrong edge take off on her first element, a triple Lutz; and arrows on four of her jumps: the triple loop, which was her second element; the triple Salchow, her fifth element; two separate arrows on the first and third jumps of her triple loop to double toe loop to double loop; and yet another arrow on the second of two double Axels in her last jump pass.

Some in the audience, especially those not familiar with this “up close” nit-picking, were visibly upset over the marks for this enjoyable, lady-like, mature showing, and booed the result. The 19-year-old, in her last season of Junior eligibility, is from Oceanside, New York, and trains in Monsey with Mary Lynn Gelderman, has suffered a couple of setbacks in her career. There was a problem at one stage with an arthritic facet joint, and then she tore her left collateral ligament. But she has not lost her love of the sport.

5.Overall 152.92; 5.FS 98.94 (53.25+46.69 -1) Courtney Hicks, USA, opened her routine set to music from “The Red Violin” played by Ikuko Kawai. The 17-year old from Chino Hills, California, is a powerful skater, who won the 2011 U.S. Junior title. But she dropped from a promising third after the Short Program to fifth, 1.63 points behind her teammate. Surprisingly, with the amount of difficulty the competitors exhibited in this competition, and the numerous mistakes which were made, there was only one fall in the top 11. And that came on Hicks’ triple Salchow, her second element, which was downgraded to a double.

Hicks, who is a member of the All Year FSC, opened her routine with a combination of triple flip to triple toe loops which lost 1.10 from its base value of 9.40. After the problem with the Salchow, she presented a triple Lutz to double toe loop which earned its base value of 7.30. Her two Level 4 spins and triple loop to double Axel sequence set at the half way point earned positives of +0.50, +0.54, and +0.70. Her second triple Lutz lost 1.40 but her Level 3 steps earned an extra +0.50 as did the following second triple flip. Her final jump, a double Axel got a minimal deduction of -0.07 and she concluded with a Level 1 change foot combination spin which got +0.14 added to its base value.

Certainly both Cesario and Hicks are capable of doing a Level 4 combination spin, even at the end of the program when they are exhausted. Not doing so meant they threw away at least 1.5 marks, and, although this would not have made a difference on their overall standing, it highlights the difference between the Russian and U.S. approach to the sport. In the U.S. the idea is to help the skater enjoy the sport. In Russia, fierce competitiveness is encouraged and the skaters fight for every landing. You can see that struggle on their faces and tension, gritted teeth and pressure to hold onto the landings.

6.Overall 149.39; 6.FS 98.69 (54.30+44.39) Gabrielle Daleman, who turned 15 on January 13, is from Newmarket, Ontario. She was the Canadian Junior champion last season but, unexpectedly, took the silver medal in the senior event this year. Dressed in a lilac outfit with a cut-out back, she performed to Dvorak’s “Piano Trio, Opus 90, Dumky”.

She was penalized on four of her eleven elements. She had a small deduction, -0.30, taken off her opening move, a combination of two triple toe loops. Then she was given an “e” for wrong edge take-off on both her triple Lutzes, the first of which was combined with a double toe, and she also lost -0.70 on her triple flip. But she looked absolutely delighted at the end. She rose two places from her Short Program result.

7.Overall 147.42; 8.FS Satoko Miyahara, Japan, who lay sixth after the Short Program, performed to “Romeo & Juliet”.  She suffered with three “e’s” for wrong edge takeoff on her two triple Lutzes AND on the flip!!  She also had arrows for slight under-rotation.

8.Overall 144.38; 7.FS 96.24 (52.35+43.89) Alaine Chartrand, Canada, performed to a Compilation of “Miss Tango” by Luis Bacalov. The 16-year-old, who is trained by Michelle Leigh, was delight to climb from 12th after the Short Program. She began with a triple Lutz to loop to triple Salchow which got a small positive, +0.10. Her triple flip received and “e” and her triple loop an arrow but there were only two other negatives, her double Axel and triple Lutz in the second half of her routine lost -1.0 and -1.40 respectively. However, her last two jumping passes, when she must have been exhausted, the triple toe to double Axel sequence (+0.10) and triple Salchow to double loop (base value) were good. Her layback spin and the steps were Level 4; the other two spins Level 3.

9.Overall 142.62; 10.FS 52.15 (30.52+21.89) Rika Hongo, a 16-year-old from Nagoya, dropped two places from her Short Program standing, performed in black to music from the ballet, “Swan Lake”.

10.Overall 139.10; 11.FS 89.13 (47.43+41.70)  Nathalie Weinzierl, who trains in Mannheim in Germany, stayed 10th. Weinzierl, who placed 9th in the recent (senior) European championships, turns 19 on April 8. She gave a lively performance to Dave Grusin’s “Havana”.

11.Overall 139.08; 9.FS 91.43 (49.15+42.28) Yasmin Siraj, is a 16-year-old from Boston, who placed sixth in the recent U.S. Senior championship, climbed two places from her Short Program place of 13th. Trained by Mark Mitchell & Peter Johansson, Siraj has survived a stress problem in a knee, a broken foot, a fractured wrist and a broken toe, all because of her love of the sport.

She presented a well-rounded routine set to music from “Seven Years in Tibet” in which eight of the 11 required elements received positive Grades of Execution, including her second move, a triple Lutz to double toe loop, a triple toe loop to double Axel sequence, a second triple Lutz, and her final double Axel to double toe loop to double loop. Three of her “level” moves were the maximum 4. Her closing element, a flying camel combination spin, earned +0.21 over the Level 3 base value.

However, Siraj’s first element, a triple flip, was penalized with an “e” for wrong edge take-off, a Salchow was aborted, and her second triple toe loop lost -1.40 from its base value.

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