by Tatjana Flade
Nguyen Golden in Sofia
Nam Ngyuen defended his lead after the short program to win the fourth World Junior title for the Canadian men. Coming from seventh place, Russia’s Adian Pitkeev clinched the silver medal and Nathan Chen (USA) rose from sixth to take the bronze.
Nguyen looked confident in his program to “Air on a G String” and “Fantasia and Fugue” by Johann Sebastian Bach. He nailed a triple Axel-double toe, another triple Axel as well as six more triples including a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination. He also maxed out his levels with level fours for all spins and the footwork. The 15-year-old scored 144.19 points, surpassing his previous seasons best by almost eight points and totaled 217.06 points. “This is the best that I’ve ever skated in competition. It is also the first time that I’ve done two triple Axels in one program”, Nam said. “There are a lot of opportunities that will open up for me after this competition. I am excited to see these opportunities”, he added. Now his next stop are the World Championships in Japan. “I fly back on Monday and I have to go back to training on Tuesday, full speed. I’ll leave on Saturday. I have to do what I did again, repeat it over there. I prefer to go back home for a few days and then go off to Japan”, the teenager from Toronto noted.
After the short program, Adian Pitkeev was so upset about popping the loop that he had to fight back tears. His emotions at the end of the long program were quite different. This time he reeled off a triple Axel-triple toe combination, a triple Axel, six more triple jumps as well as three level four spins. When he landed the loop, he even pumped his fist. The Russian Junior Champion scored 143.75 points, not far off his seasons best, and with a total of 212.51 points jumped on to the podium. “I think I gave a good performance in the free skating, but not in the short program, especially the loop (he popped), my favorite jump. I did not expect that I would move up as much as I did”, the 15-year-old commented. “In international competition this is the biggest jump I’ve ever done. In a minor national competition once I moved up 12 places, because my short program was terrible”, he shared.
Chen’s program to “Chatanooga Choo Choo” and “Summertime” by George Gershwin featured seven clean triples, but he stepped out of his opening triple Axel. The Californian has six triples in the second half of his program, more than everybody else. Nguyen and Pitkeev do five jumps in the second half (but one of them is a double Axel) as do several other skaters. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalist scored 142.38 points in the free and accumulated 212.03 points overall. “This is honestly a really cool experience. It’s my first junior worlds. It’s cool to be here”, the 14-year-old said.
Nguyen and Pitkeev are not sure about whether they will move up to the senior level now. “I think this is what Mike (Slipchuk, Skate Canada High Performance Director) decides”, Nam said, grinning. “I would like to compete at the senior level, I am planning on that, but I don’t know what the coaches and the federation are deciding. It depends on them, not on me alone. I would like to go to the senior level, because it is a new experience. Sooner or later I have to do it anyway, or so I hope at least”, Adian commented.
Russia’s Alexander Petrov is a solid skater from Alexei Mishin’s school in St. Petersburg. He pulled up one spot and finished fourth (210.03 points). His program to a Mishinesque medley from “Once Upon A Time in America” and “Cotton Club” included a triple Axel and six more triples, but the second Axel and Lutz were wobbly. “For my debut this is not bad, but obviously I hoped for a better result”, the 14-year-old noted. He has plenty of time to come back and do better. Japan’s Shoma Uno slipped from third to fifth (206.50 points) after he fell on an under-rotated triple Axel. But he has excellent transitions and skating skills and showed a rare double Axel-single loop-triple flip combination. Boyang Jin of China had a disappointing performance. He doubled his planned quad Salchow, then fell on the first quad to and wobbled on the second quad toe. The triple Axel was good, but maybe overall the degree of difficulty was too high plus he more or less rushed through his program, focusing only on the jumps. He plummeted from second to sixth (203.64 points).
Keiji Tanaka of Japan also missed a quad toe and finished seventh. He had won a silver medal at Junior Worlds in 2011, which came as a surprise then, but ever since he had no luck at this competition. Latvia’s Deniss Vassiljevs was the discovery of the Championship. The energetic 14-year-old fell on the opening triple Lutz but nailed all his six triples after that, including a triple Lutz-triple toe and a triple Salchow-single loop-triple Salchow combo. But he not only can jump, but also has nice spins and strong interpretation skills. The lyrical “Nutcracker” free skating was completely different from his jazzy short program, but he shone in both programs.
Radionova leads Russian sweep in Junior ladies, again
Defending champion Elena Radionova led the podium sweep of the Russian power girls as the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships wrapped up in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Sunday. Serafima Sakhanovich is the silver medalist and Evgenia Medvedeva clinched the bronze medal. Radionova became the first female skater to defend a World Junior title. Several others had tried before, including Adelina Sotnikova and Julia Lipnitskaia, but they didn’t make it. Sakhanovich and Medvedeva competed in their first Junior World Championship. The Russian girls had swept the podium at Junior Worlds in 2013 and as well in 1996 and 1998.
Radionova really shone in her upbeat Latin program and effortlessly nailed seven triples including two triple-triple combinations and also showed off excellent spins. The Muscovite scored 127.39 points, just a little less than her seasons best achieved in the senior Grand Prix (with one additional element) and accumulated 194.29 points overall. “I am very pleased with my performance today. It was one of the best in my career so far, full of emotions and I skated like it was for the last time. This victory did not come easy to me mentally and physically. I did not know for a long time if I can come here. I haven’t fully realized yet what happened, but I am getting more and more excited now”, the 15-year-old said. “I think you should start with the small things and not go to the major senior competitions right away. You should go step by step. Obviously we do not know what the future will bring and what will become of us, but I think if we work hard, everything will work out for us”, she answered when asked what medaling a Junior Worlds means to her.
Sakhanovich went for a romantic piece, music from the Russian TV serial soundtrack “Closed School”. She as well landed all her triples, like a triple flip-triple toe, a triple flip-single loop-triple Salchow combination and picked up a level four for all three spins and the footwork. The Russian Junior Champion pocketed 117. 38 points and got 182.13 points overall. “My performance today was not ideal. I can do better than that. This competition was hard for me, because I got injured here. I had even trouble walking, but I did not feel it during my performance”, the 14-year-old noted. She said she woke up the day before the free skating and felt pain in her right foot, probably from overuse. “My music is from the “Closed School” soundtrack, but my program has nothing to do with this serial. I just want to create the image of a girl in love, that walks along the sea, there is thunder and there are clouds in the sky”, the skater from St. Petersburg explained.
Medvedva, who had come in as a substitute for Maria Sotskova, completed the sweep. Skating to “Lady Caliph” and “Never Going to Miss You” she produced a triple flip-triple toe and a triple Salchow-triple toe as well as two double Axels and two other triples. However, the 14-year-old from Moscow fell on an under-rotated triple flip and the combo spin merited only a level one. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalist earned 114.71 points and totaled 178.43 points. “I am not so pleased with my performance, I made many mistakes, bigger and smaller ones and not only on the jumps, but even on the spins. After I skated I did not think I would be on the podium. I watched Satoko (Miyahara) skate and I thought she would be third. When they told me that I am in third place, I didn’t believe it at first”, Medvedeva said.
Japan’s Satoko Miyahara remained in fourth place with 177.69 points. Her Flamenco program to “Poeta” by Vincente Amigo was highlighted by five clean triple jumps, but the Four Continents silver medalist underrotated a triple toe and the second triple Lutz. The powerful Canadian Alaine Chartrand delivered a strong performance to “Doctor Zhivago” and landed a triple Lutz-single loop-triple Salchow as well as four other good triples to move up from seventh to fifth (164.35 points). Da Bin Choi of Korea turned in a clean program that featured seven triples and finished sixth, coming from ninth place in the short (162.35 points). Amber Glenn (USA) dynamic skater and her opening triple flip-triple toe was good (although she received an edge call), but she under-roated the toe in her triple Lutz-triple toe combo as well as her second Lutz and she stumbled on the triple Salchow that was downgraded. The Texan finished seventh (158.88 points). Rika Hongo of Japan moved up from 11th to 8th with a solid performance to “Miss Saigon”. Karen Chen (USA) dropped to ninth after a few errors. A notable skater outside the top ten is Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Turzynbaeva, who lived in Moscow but now trains in Toronto under Brian Orser and his team. She missed a toeloop and a loop, but her other jumps and her spins were strong and she moved up from 16th to 11th.
Maria-Katharina Herceg of Germany who stood in 13th place following the short program, had to withdraw because of tendonitis in her right foot.