by Tatjana Flade
Hawayek & Baker (USA) Dance to Victory
Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (USA) claimed victory in the Ice Dance event at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Sofia on Friday. Anna Yanovskaya & Sergey Mozgov of Russia settled for the silver medal, but won the free dance. Canadians Madeline Edwards & Zhao Kai Pang pulled up from fifth to capture the bronze. All three couples stood on the podium for the first time at Junior Worlds.
Hawayek & Baker turned in a poetic dance to the “Amelie Poulain” soundtrack that highlighted their qualities very well. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists combined difficult step sequences with nice lifts and picked up high levels: a level four for the lifts, the twizzles and the spin and a level three for the two footwork sequences. The US Junior Champions scored 90.39 points, a new seasons best and had 157.12 points overall. “This entire season Jean-Luc and I have been preparing for Junior Worlds. From the beginning of the season we’ve said, the Junior World gold medal is our goal. And I think that we worked the hardest this season and we believed the entire season that we could do it and this competition was just a showing of that this season”, Hawayek commented. “As for our skate today we’re very pleased. We both know how strong the competition is with Yanovskaya and Mozgov and the Canadians and also the other two American teams. We just wanted to put out a strong performance as well as everyone else. We knew the pressure was on, but we handled it quite well”, Baker added. Asked about which direction ice dance should take, he answered: “I was brought up more vintage style ice dance, do ice dance and not look at me how strong I am, I throw my partner like a doll. I assume that’s more pairs. I like to see the dance in ice dance. If they could incorporate that a little more and not so much technique (it would be nice). It’s so hard with the quickstep this year to really show the style of a quickstep, because we have to do so many technical things we can’t really allow the dance to flow as it was created. It’s hard to do two things at once”, he explained.
Compared to the other teams, Yanovskaya & Mozgov look quite grown up and powerful. Mozgov especially is really tall. The Russian went for a romantic and passionate dance to “La Mirta e la Rosa” and impressed with their strong lifts and flowing footwork. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champions earned the same levels as Hawayek & Baker and were ranked first in the free dance portion with a seasons best of 91.36 points. But overall it was not enough to overtake the Americans and the Muscovites remained in second place with 155.16 points. “Right now we are just happy that we have a silver medal at the World (Junior) Championship and finally we reached the podium”, Yanovskaya noted. The couple had come fourth in 2012 and failed to qualify for Junior Worlds in 2013. “We want to prepare better for the next season, have more effective programs, try to collect all possible medals at the junior level. We want to stay at the junior level”, she added. Mozgov agreed with Baker about the development of ice dance. “I totally agree with what Jean-Luc said, it is the correct position to say that dance should remain dance and not a kind of pairs. The rules become more difficult with each year and it never became easier. It never will be the same as under the 6.0 system when it was much easier to skate”, he noted.
Edwards & Pang danced to “Les Miserables” and looked smooth. The straight line and rotational lift as well as the spin and the twizzles were rated a level four, but the footwork and the curve lift garnered only a level two. Still, the couple from Vancouver scored 81.73 points, a seasons best, and totaled 139.65 points. “We could not be more pleased to be up here with two amazing teams. Everyone put out some great performances. I remember standing there last year and watching the medal ceremony and thinking next year we want to be up there. We want to see our flag. It’s very cool that this came true for us”, Edwards said. Like Hawayek & Baker they are undecided whether they will move up completely to the senior level next season. “I think we have one more year junior, so we’ll compete in both junior and senior. We competed both junior and senior this year and I think found it to be a great learning experience to be able to compete with the older and more experienced teams, especially in an Olympic year to be able to watch everyone to prepare for that is actually very cool”, Madeline said.
Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA) delivered a solid performance to “Sherlock Holmes”. They are doing something different, not so much main stream, but they are still not as polished as the top teams. This was reflected in their component score, plus they also lost one point for an extended lift (luckily this did not make the difference). The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalists slipped from third to fourth (138.53 points). Alexandra Nazarova & Maxim Nikitin of Ukraine entertained the sparse crowd at the Winter Sports Hall with their fun “Cabaret” program. Technically the students of Alexander Zhulin and Oleg Volkov did well too with five level-four elements. They pulled up from seventh to fifth (134.65 points). Rebeka Kim & Kirill Minov, who represent Korea, followed up on their strong short dance to come sixth with 133.35 points. Their music choice was a modern, somewhat weird version of “Sheherazade”, but they had good speed and the same levels as the top two teams. Korea now has a competitive young ice dance team that hopefully will continue to develop. They already made a big step forward, coming from a 20th place finish last year. Minov is Russian and they train in Moscow under Irina Zhuk and Alexander Zhulin. Rebeka was born in Seoul but lives in Moscow now. The Koreans even beat the two other Russian dance teams.
Russia’s Betina Popova & Yuri Vlasenko placed seventh in what was their debut at the World Junior Championship. Their “Spartacus” program was good old Russian dance school, the levels were excellent as well (132.47 points). Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons (USA) got only a level two for the footwork and a level three for the twizzles. Overall they looked slow and plummeted from fourth to eighth. If they didn’t have the deduction for an extended lift they would have placed ahead of Popova & Vlasenko. Evgenia Kosigina & Nikolai Moroshkin of Russia ended a tough season with a ninth place, their lowest finish in their three appearances at the event. They were sixth in 2011 and in 2013. Their Flamenco was well interpreted, but the levels were great with a level two for the circular footwork, the spin and a lift. This was their last junior year. They had come in as a late replacement for Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin.
Radionova Leads Russian Sweep of Junior Ladies Short Program
The next wave of Russian junior ladies is on its way and seems hard to stop it. Defending champion Elena Radionova, Serafima Sakhanovich and Evgenia Medvedeva took the top three spots in the short program at the ISU World Junior Championships on Friday. But Satoko Miyahara of Japan still has a chance to break through the Russian phalanx.
One year ago, Radionova won Junior Worlds, but she was ranked only fifth in the short program following a fall. This time, the 15-year-old skated clean. She reeled off a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple loop and double Axel as well as level-four spins and footwork. Elena’s interpretation of the flowing “Anna Karenina” piece by Two Steps from Hell was excellent as well and she scored 66.90 points. “Today I had a good performance, it was very confident and precise and overall I was calm when I went out for the warm up and for the competition. Maybe that’s why everything worked out today”, the Muscovite noted. Radionova still remembered last year’s mishap. “I wasn’t nervous because of that”, she assured. “I had some doubts, because we again did not try this ice (the ladies practiced in the practice rink), and when we went out for the warm up, I didn’t feel so comfortable. I tried to get used to the ice”, she explained.
Sakhanovich’s program to “You Don’t Give Up On Love” featured a triple flip-triple toe, triple loop, double Axel and as well difficult spins and footwork. Like Radionova, she collected level fours for all of them. The Russian Junior Champion posted a new seasons best with 64.75 points. “I am also very happy with my performance today. It was clean and I liked it, all my jumps were done ideally with plusses and I got a level four for the spins and footwork. I think I never skated better than that. I got a level four for the first time for the footowork, I always had a level three before”, the 14-year-old from St. Petersburg said. The reigning ISU Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist had moved all three jumping passes to the second half.
Medvedeva turned in a lovely performance as well. Her “Ballet Russe” was highlighted by a double Axel, a triple flip-triple toe and a triple loop as well as three level-four spins. The 14-year-old also earned a seasons best with 63.72 points. “Today I gave a quite clean and good performance, but I feel that is not my limit yet, there is still room to grow”, the Muscovite noted. “The most important thing for me is to skate my program well and then everything comes with it. You have to prepare well and work, then you get into the team and wherever you want”, she added. Medvedeva was only the second substitute and came in when Maria Sotskova dropped out. “I wish her a speedy recovery. I know what it means to miss out on an important competition”, Evgenia shared.
Medvedeva is just the second substitute on the Russian team. Radionova, who nursed a foot injury in the winter, was unable to compete at Junior Nationals and first listed as a substitute. But she was told that she would be selected if she is ready. The Federation then replaced Alexandra Proklova with Radionova. Just shortly before the event started, Junior Grand Prix Final Champion Maria Sotskova had to withdraw because of illness. Proklova, once removed from the roster, could not be put back in and so Medvedeva got the chance to go.
Satoko Miyahara of Japan was edged out of the top three by just 0.15 points. Her sophisticated routine to “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” and “The Last Emperor” included a triple Lutz-triple toe combination and all level four spins and footwork. With 63.57 points, the Four Continents silver medalist has still all chances to make the podium. Amber Glenn (USA) finished fifth with 56.58 points. The American hit a triple flip-triple toe, but she touched down on the triple loop. Her teammate Karen Chen is right behind her with 56.09 points. She played it safe with a triple Lutz-double toe (although she has been doing triple Lutz-triple toe in practice). The double Axel was fine, but she stumbled on the triple loop.
Alaine Chartrand of Canada fell on the back end of her triple Lutz-triple toe combo to place seventh (54.68 points). Finland’s Jenni Saarinen delivered a clean performance that featured at triple toe-triple toe and nice spins. She is sitting in eighth place (53.76 points). Da Bin Choi landed a triple Lutz-triple toe and is ranked ninth (53.69). Tyler Pierce (USA) fell on the triple toe-triple toe, but her other elements were strong and she came 10th (51.84 points).
41 skaters competed and the top 24 advanced to the final. Alisson Krystle Perticheto of the Philippines was entered but did not show up and subsequently was withdrawn. Of the 41 skaters, 12 went for a triple-triple combination. Seven triple-triples were clean, two not completely clean and three ended in a fall.