by Alexandra Stevenson
(2 March 2013)
Immediately following Samantha Cesario’s winning performance on Friday, with just two competitors left to skate, the Agora stadium suffered a power failure that knocked out the announcer and music system. The competition was delayed over 20 minutes until the problem was fixed. The remaining two skaters, So Jung Park & Hae Jin Kim, both from South Korea, were allowed a second warm-up before presenting their programs. They lie 11th & 14th.
1. SP 54.69 (30.03+24.66) Samantha Cesario, USA, a 19-year-old, who is trained in Monsey, NY, by Mary Lynn Gelderman, leads the field of 45 competitors by 0.71, despite placing third in both marking categories. Her elements’ score was surpassed by the Russian, Anna Pogorilaya, who currently lies second, and the Japanese Rika Hongo, who sits in seventh place, and, on the component score, Cesario was piped by the other two Russians, Julia Lipnitskaia & Elena Radionova, who are lying fourth and fifth.
Cesario said, “I’m really happy with how I skated today. It wasn’t my complete best, but I wanted to come out and do a nice, clean program and I think that’s what I did. I’m happy with how it went and it feels really good to be in first.” The routine was obviously very familiar to Cesario, and she had worked very hard on interpreting nuances which included how she held her body, and extended right down to the fingernails, and how she occasionally looked at the audience with tantalizing smiles.
Since she is skating to music from Bizet’s Opera Carmen, she was asked whether she had watched video of the famed “Battle of the Carmens” when both the US champion Debi Thomas and the East German defending Olympic champion, Kati Witt, used that music in the Games of 1988 in Calgary. She replied, “I haven’t. I’ve had my Carmen program for three years now and it’s gotten better each season and I’m really comfortable with it now. I’m happy that I feel good about my last performance of it. My strategy, tomorrow in the Free, is just to go out and do what I do every day in practice and just skate confidently and clean.”
Cesario, whose choreography is created by Inese Buciveca, finished 8th in the U.S. Senior Ladies championship in Omaha. On Friday, skating 43rd, with only two other competitors to go, she opened her Short Program routine with an impressive +0.90 triple flip, a +0.50 double Axel and a +0.71 Level 4 layback spin. That was followed by a Level 3, +0.36 flying camel.
Her routine was created to take advantage of the 10% bonus on jumps executed in the second half, which is considered harder because the skaters are then entering the anaerobic stage when the body has used up its stored oxygen. However, her first jump in her combination of triple loop to double toe loop was saddled with an arrow for slight under-rotation and she was penalized with -0.30 off the move’s base value plus the ten percent late program bonus. Her straight line steps were Level 3 with +0.93 and she concluded with a +0.64 Level 4 change foot combination spin. Her components ranged from two 5.50s up to two 7.50s.
2. SP 53.98 (31.36+22.62) Anna Pogorilaya from Russia won bronze in the Junior Grand Prix Final in December competing in the Iceberg Arena which will be used for the figure skating and short track events in next February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi. She performed to “Songs from the Victorious City” by Anne Dudley”. (This album was recorded in Egypt’s capital, Cairo, in 1990. In Arabic, Cairo means “Victorious”.)
Pogorilaya, who will turn 15 on April 10, is trained in Moscow by Anna Tsareva. The long-legged, young blonde performed in a maroon unitard with bare sleeves but with gloves. She opened with a splendid triple Lutz to triple toe loop combination which earned her 10.10 points. However, she was saddled with an “e” for wrong edge take-off on her triple flip and lost -0.60 from its base value. Her double Axel received an extra +0.21. Something went wrong on her entry into her flying Camel spin and she had -0.09 removed from its base value for Level 1 of 1.90.
The following layback spin was superb. It was fast and clearly worthy of both the maximum Level 4 and the extra full point from the judges’ averaged assessment. Her steps were Level 3 with +0.21 and she concluded with a Level 4 change foot combination spin which earned an extra +0.43. Throughout the piece, she used arm movements meant to reflect her music. She did not look pleased at the end and readily admitted, “It was an average performance today. My spin wasn’t good and I stumbled in the footwork.” Later, she said, “All of our Russian girls didn’t skate so great today. I was the highest ranked and skated the cleanest (of the three), therefore I am in second place right now. I am overall pretty pleased with my performance and with being second. I am in a good mood and very positive. I hope to do everything in the free program and how it showed how well I have trained and how well I am prepared for this competition.”
3. SP 53.98 (30.47+23.51) Courtney Hicks, USA, had the same overall score as Pogorilaya, but the tie in a Short Program is broken on the elements score. The 17-year-old Hicks has come back to the city where she broke her leg two-and-a-half years ago while competing in a 2011 Junior Grand Prix.
Remarkably, Hicks, in a sleeveless orange creation, performed to “Khorobusko” by Bond. She opened with her combination, a triple Lutz to triple toe loop. The first jump was very high. But the second was flawed and she was given a double arrow, meaning it was down-graded to a double. She did not let that interfere with her concentration and the following element, a layback spin, was executed very well and was rewarded with the maximum Level 4 from the Technical Panel, and +0.86 average Grade of Execution from the judges. The following flying camel spin also received Level 4, with +0.64.
Her triple flip looked good in the air but she stepped out of the landing and she lost a full point off its base value. The following double Axel made its base value but had nothing added. But her Level 3 straight line steps earned an extra +0.71 and two judges were so impressed by her Level 4 concluding change foot combination spin, they punched in the maximum +3 Grade of Execution.
Hicks said, “I was very happy with my performance even though it wasn’t quite as well as I could skate. I went out and did what I wanted to do. I’m just going to keep it light for the Free program. My strategy is to go out and skate my best and keep it confident and strong.
4. SP 53.86 (29.31+24.55) Julia Lipnitskaya, who was born in Ekaterinburg but now lives in Moscow training with Eteri Tutberidze, is the defending World Junior Champion. She won both sections in Minsk, Belarus, ahead of the U.S.’s Gracie Gold. However, the 14-year-old did not take part in the Junior Grand Prix Final in Sochi in December because she was suffering from concussion after a fall from a jump.
She performed to a modern version of Khatchaturian’s speedy Sabre Dance, dressed in black, including black tights. Her opening move was as a combination of triple Lutz to triple toe loop but she singled the second jump. The following triple flip received an “e” for wrong edge take-off and she lost 0.50 from that jump’s base value. Her double Axel was low although she still received +0.29 over its base value.
Then Lipnitskaya came into her strong area, executing three Level 4 spins and a Level 3 step sequence. She has the most amazing flexibility and positions like holding her leg in a split spiral, and in a high kick position and transitioning to a Biellmann position during a spin are absolutely breath-taking. She received seven maximum +3 GoEs for her layback spin with the other two judges punching in +2. Two judges also gave +3 for her closing element, the combination spin, while the rest of the panel awarded +2.
5. SP 53.48 (29.22+25.26 -1) Elena Radionova, from Moscow, is the current Russian junior champion. She turned 14 on January 6 and is trained by Inna Goncharenko. Skating to music from the movie, “The Fifth Element” by Eric Serra, in black and gold, she opened with a triple Lutz to triple toe, but while the second jump was fine, she was penalized with an arrow for slight under-rotation of the Lutz. She fell on her second element, a triple flip, which was given an “e” for wrong edge take-off. Her double Axel was deemed good enough for an extra +0.50 over its base value.
Her Level 4 Layback spin was so good, six judges gave the maximum +3 and the other three punched in +2. That meant 1.36 was added to its base value of 2.70. That was followed by a Level 4 change foot combination spin which earned 0.71 over its base value of 3.50. She put a great amount of energy into her lively straight line step sequence and was rewarded by one judge with the maximum +3 Grade of Execution. She concluded with a Level 4 flying camel spin which was rewarded with +0.86 over its base value.
6. SP 52.16 (28.48+23.68) Satoko Mayahara is the twice Japanese Junior champion who was fourth in this section of this event last year and held onto that place although she was sixth in the Free Skate. Mayahara, who turns 15 on March 26, is trained in Osaka by Mie Hamada.
Here she gave a lovely showing choreographed by Tom Dickson & Catarina Lindgren to Camille Saint-Saens’ ethereal “The Swan”, dressed appropriately in white. However, she got an arrow for both jumps of her opening move, triple Lutz to triple toe loop, and for her second element, a triple flip. However, all three spins and the footwork earned Level 4. Her double Axel received +0.21 over its base.
7. SP 52.15 (30.52+21.63) Rika Hongo, a 16 year-old who was fifth at Senior level in Japan and third at Junior level. She is from the earthquake city of Sendai, although she now trains in Nagoya. She performed to Saint-Saens’ Samson & Delilah finishing just 0.01 of a point behind her team mate. The second jump of her combination of two triple toe loops received an arrow for slight under-rotation but everything else was fine. All three spins were Level 4 but her steps were only Level 2.
8. SP 50.70 (28.62+22.08) Gabrielle Daleman was last season’s Canadian Junior champion. Then, this year, she pulled off an amazing feat to claim the runner-up position in the senior championship! She turned 15 on January 13 and is from Toronto. Skating to music from the movie “Avatar”, she opened with a combination of two triple toe loops but the second one received an arrow for slight under-rotation. Her triple flip was given an “e” for wrong edge takeoff. Two of her spins were Level 4. The flying camel and her steps earned Level 3. She trains with Andrei Berezintsev in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
9. SP 50.43 (29.37+21.06) Laurine LeCavelier, a 16-year old who is ranked third in France, performed to Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”, opening the routine with a triple Lutz to double toe loop. Her only fault was on her triple flip which received an “e” for wrong edge take-off.
10. SP 49.97 (29.06+20.91) Nathalie Weinzierl, Germany is the second ranked German, who placed 22nd and 9th in the last two European championships. She turns 19 on April 8 so this is her last year of eligibility in this event. She used music from the movie, Exodus.
11. SP 49.26 (27.20+22.06) Hae Jin Kim, South Korea, was eighth in this event last year. The 15-year-old, who skated to music from the opera “La Boheme”, is trained by Jong Hyun Rye in Taenung.
12. SP 48.14 (27.93+21.21 -1) Alaine Chartrand pulled at upset in the recent Canadian Senior championship in January, claiming bronze. She is trained by Michelle Leigh in three Ontario rinks, Nepean, Barrie & Prescott. The youngster, who will turn 17 on March 26, performed to “Last Dance” by Edvin Martin. She opened with a triple Lutz to triple toe loop but the second jump received an arrow for slight under-rotation. Her second element, the triple flip received an “e” for wrong edge takeoff and she fell on her double Axel. However, one of her spins and the steps were Level 4. Her flying camel was Level 3 and the finishing layback was Level 2. This is only her third international. She took part in two Junior Grand Prix events earlier this season, in Lake Placid and Zagreb where she finished seventh and sixth.
13. SP 47.65 (27.27+21.38 -1 ) Yasmin Siraj, USA, represents the SC of Boston. The 17-year-old has been skating since she was two. She skated to Ravel’s Daphnis & Chloe, opening with a combination of two triple toe loops. However, the second jump received an arrow for slight under-rotation and she fell on her second element, a triple flip. All three spins and the steps were the maximum Level 4 and her double Axel was a good +0.57. She is trained by Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson.
45 skaters competed but only 24 are allowed into Saturday’s Free Skate.