by Tatjana Flade
Hawayek & Baker (USA) Surprise in Short Dance
Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (USA) won the short dance ahead of top favorites Anna Yanovskaya & Sergey Mozgov of Russia. Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA) finished third.
Hawayek & Baker were silver medalists in the Junior Grand Prix Final, but it was still a surprise that they came out and beat Yanovskaya & Mozgov with almost three points to spare. But it was a deserved victory. Hawayek & Baker delivered a very characteristic Quickstep to “Happy Feet” and “Sing Sing Sing” as well as a smooth Foxtrot to “It Had to Be You”. The couple was the only one to earn a level four for all elements, including the two Quickstep patterns, and their choreography was rich in detail. So they achieved a new personal best score of 66.73 points. “We really have been working hard from the (ISU Junior Grand Prix) Final to drill our elements and get our levels. Based on our technical score we can say that we more than achieved that, getting level fours for everything”, Hawayek commented. “Definitely the US right now is building and building on an incredibly strong ice dance program. Obviously we have (Olympic Champions) Meryl (Davis) and Charlie (White) on top of the world right now. We have us included many up and coming teams. They are continuing to progress throughout the years. It’s North America’s time to dominate ice dance ”, she added. Her partner pointed out that the competition is not over yet: “We are both very happy with the performance and we also both know it’s not over until the free dance is done, so on to next one.”
Yanovskaya & Mozgov’s performance to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and “Fever” was solid, but the Muscovites did not really sparkle. They earned 63.80 points, which was slightly above their previous seasons best. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champions earned a level four for the twizzles and the lift while the two Quickstep patterns and the side by side footwork garnered a level three. “We are basically happy with our performance. We skated clean, and it was a rather good, solid performance. But it was not enough to receive a higher score than we had before. But we tried our best and we are happy with what we did”, Mozgov said. „It is hard to say what was missing. I think we skated our best performance, because it was the last one. I think improved in everything, but it was not enough, this is how the judges saw it. The most important thing is that we were happy with ourselves and we did everything that we could do“, Yanovskaya explained.
McNamara & Carpenter chose unusual music for their short dance with a Foxtrot to „Bublichki” and a Quickstep to “Chiribim, Chiribom”. The ISU Junior Grand Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalists picked up a level four for their lift, twizzles and one Quickstep pattern and like the top two teams set a new seasons best for themselves with 58.65 points. “We didn’t give ourselves any sort of expectation, we just wanted to go and give our best, and I think we came very close to that. We are very happy with the results and to be up here with the small medalists. We had a really good time and it went well”, Carpenter noted. “It was our last time competing the short dance this season. We worked all season to make it as good as we can and we really showed everything we worked for”, McNamara said. “Definitely in the US they are starting to build more pockets of academies and training. There are a lot of US dancers that take a different approach than other places in the world, mixing what the coaches think is most successful. I think it leads to the best training”, she answered a question on the current strength of ice dance in the USA.
Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons (USA) completed a strong showing of the U.S. dance team by placing fourth with 58.08 points. The brother-and-sister-team had a level four for one part of the Quickstep and the rotational lift. The other elements merited a level three. Canadians Madeline Edwards & Zhao Kai Pang came fifth with 57.92 points. Their dance was smooth and they got a level four for the twizzles and the lift, but the side by side footwork was rated a level two only.
However, the biggest surprise came probably from Korea’s Rebeka Kim & Kirill Minov, who finished sixth at 55.33 points. The Korean-Russian duo that trains in Moscow under Irina Zhuk and Alexander Svinin looked crisp in their Quickstep and Foxtrot program and picked up good levels: a level four for one Quickstep pattern, the twizzles and the straight line lift. They improved their seasons best by about five points.
Ukraine’s Alexandra Nazarova & Maxim Nikitin, another Moscow-based team, are standing in 7th place. The Junior Grand Prix finalists showed good energy throughout their performance, but the first Quickstep pattern got only a level one (53.47 points). Only in 8th place with 53.29 points are Betina Popova & Yuri Vlasenko of Russia after he did not grab his blade in the twizzles, thus missing a feature and also wobbled n the side by side (level two). The third Russian couple, Evgenia Kosigina & Nikolai Moroshkin, came in as a late replacement for 2013 World Junior Champions Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin who withdrew due to illness. They finished 10th at 53.09 points.
28 couples competed in the short dance and the top 20 advance to the free dance on Friday. The overall level was good, there was just one fall. Florence Clarke, who skates with Tim Dieck representing Germany, went down in the Quickstep and the team failed to qualify, placing 27th.
Yu & Jin (CHN) lead Junior Pairs after Short Program
The Junior Pairs short program was a Chinese-Russian affair as expected. China’s Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin skated to the lead and are followed by three Russian teams: Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov, Vasilisa Davankova & Andrei Deputat and Maria Vigalova & Egor Zakroev. These four top teams put out strong performance and set themselves apart from the rest of the field.
Yu & Jin’s performance to “Meditation” by Jules Massenet included a double Axel, high double twist, throw triple toe as well as a level-four lift, footwork and pair combination spin. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champions scored 62.58 points, which was just a little more than their previous seasons best. “We skated up to our level as well as we can do in practice. However, there still were some little errors and things we can do better. We still can improve the performance aspect of our program,” Jin said. „There are quite a few skaters in China now, recreational and competitive skaters. We have about 300 skaters on our National Championship when you take all levels together”, he answered when asked about how many skaters there are in China now.
Tarasova & Morozov put out a solid program to “Tango de Roxanne”, hitting a high double twist, a double Axel and throw triple toe loop as well as two more level-four elements, but in the footwork they bumped into each other. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Finalists earned a new seasons best of 59.46 points. “We have mixed feelings regarding our performance. We felt we were lacking the emotional part and we had some small mistakes. But overall we are happy with how we did and we hope to continue the same way”, Morozov noted. „One year ago Junior Worlds in Milan were our first major competition and we didn’t know what to expect and it didn’t go so well. This time, we knew exactly where we are going and how to prepare”, Tarasova said about their improvement compared to the World Junior Championships one year ago where they placed fifth. “At that time we were skating together less than one year, and now we have been skating together for almost two years and we have gelled much more as a team”, Morozov added.
Davankova & Deputat skated to “The Godfather” and produced a solid double Axel, double twist, and throw triple toe, but they lost precious points on a level-two death spiral. The 2012 World Junior bronze medalists scored 58.35 points. “We are pleased with today’s performance. There were just some levels we didn’t get. But our elements were good and the emotions were good as well. The audience supported us and our friends were cheering for us and we felt we played the emotional part very well”, Davankova told the post-event press conference. “Figure skating is getting more and more popular with the Olympic Games, especially the Olympic Games in Sochi where our (Russian) skaters were so successful. Other people might say whatever they want, but we like what we are doing and it is tough. It might look easy when we perform on the ice for four minutes, but nobody knows how long we have trained for a victory or a good result”, she explained.
Vigalova & Zakroev gave a clean performance as well, skating to “Capone”, but they lost a few points compared to their competitors in the component score and GOE of the elements. Currently ranked fourth at 55.32 points, the reigning ISU Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists still have a shot at the podium in Thursday’s free skating.
Madeline Aaron & Max Settlage (USA) are a little further behind at 51.95 points. The Colorado Springs based team landed a good double Axel, but their death spiral was rated a level one and they risked just a throw double toe loop.
Canadians Mary Orr & Phelan Simpson showed good quality in lift and throw triple toe, but other elements had lower levels and they went for a double loop. They earned 45.14 points to come sixth.
Alessandra Cernuschi & Filipo Ambrosini of Italy finished seventh with a solid “Romeo and Juliet” program that included a double Axel and throw triple toe (44.90 points). Tara Hancherow & Wesley Killing of Canada placed eighth. She fell on the double Axel and they struggled with their toe lasso lift.
The double twist, toe lasso lift and throw double or triple toe loop are required elements in the junior pairs short program. The skaters can choose between a double loop or double Axel for their side by side jump. 15 couples competed and all proceeded to the free skating on Thursday.