by Tatjana Flade
(11 March 2015) Anna Yanovskaya & Sergey Mozgov of Russia crowned their successful junior career with the gold medal they actually were favorites to win already last year as they dominated on the Junior Grand Prix. But then Kaitlyn Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (USA) snatched away the gold medal from them and the Russians had to settle for the silver medal. They were ranked fourth at Junior Worlds in 2012 and missed Junior Worlds in 2013 when they failed to qualify because of the strong competition inside Russia .
This time, Yanovskaya & Mozgov didn’t let victory slip away. They took the lead, albeit a small one, in the Samba and Rhumba Short Dance. They picked up a level three for their two sequences of the Silver Samba and had 62.22 points while Mackenzie Bent & Garrett Mackeen of Canada had a level four on both Samba patterns and sat in second, trailing the Russians by just 1.13 points. Yanovskaya and Mozgov had said earlier that the Samba is not their favorite dance as they are tall and the small, quick steps are not so comfortable for them. They still had a strong expression and earned high components.
The tall Muscovites don’t look like a junior team anymore and underlined this with their choice of an Argentine Tango for the free dance. They danced to an unusual version of “Besame Mucho”. Yanovskaya & Mozgov delivered a strong performance, with the lifts and the spin meriting a level four and the footwork and the twizzles a level three. However, they did look like they were holding back a little, making sure that they don’t make any mistake. Nevertheless the dancers earned a new seasons (and personal) best with 93.70 points and accumulated 155.92 points overall.
“We have only positive feelings now. We won the free dance and overall. Of course, there were some minor mistakes, but we are satisfied. In this season we achieved everything in juniors that we could have achieved”, Anna said. “For our free dance we chose Argentine Tango and it turned out to be a golden Tango for us. Everybody understands the story of the Tango. Our program is about a man and woman meeting in a restaurant, we try to develop this story, it is about passion, emotion and love. We developed it over the course of the whole season and I think here at this competition we were able to bring it across the best”, the 17-year-old continued.
Mozgov turned 20 the Tuesday following the championship and the couple would be junior eligible one more season, but the team intends to move up to the senior level. “We don’t have any plans yet for the senior career. We want to prepare and to fix the mistakes we did and add choreography and emotions, relationship to our skating”, Mozgov said. “It is a completely different level from juniors and the skating will be different. We’ll have to work a lot”, acknowledged Yanovskaya.
Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA) won the silver medal in their third appearance at Junior Worlds after ranking 9th and 4th in the previous two years. The team from Wheaton, ML, placed third with an African themed short dance. They were also third in their “Phantom of the Opera” free dance but overall moved up to second at 146.90 points. “Going into the free dance today we just really wanted to put out a strong, solid skate and show our improvement from what we did earlier this year and since our last international competition We wanted to show all the improvements that we’ve made, all the growth that we had. I think we did that today”, McNamara said. “I don’t think either of us can be disappointed with how we skated. It was very solid. We did exactly what we came to do. We both had a really good time. As always, there were little things. No performance is perfect, but we both really enjoyed the skate we did today and it was what we needed to do”, added Carpenter. Both talked fondly about their free dance, although they know that this music is rather overused in figure skating. “We both felt so much passion and connection with this music. We knew people had skated to it, but we felt so strongly about it and we really wanted to tell a very deep, intimate story about Christine and the Phantom. We skated it the best we could. I think it is one of our favorites. We had an amazing time feeling this program”, Quinn explained.
She turned 16 in February and he turned 19, so they can continue at the junior level.
Ukraine’s Alexandra Nazarova & Maxim Nikitin ranked fifth in the short dance, because their Silver Samba and the side by side footwork were graded only a level two. The students of Alexander Zhulin and Oleg Volkov made up for it with their entertaining free dance to “Escalier” and “Tango Tchack” by Hugues Le Bars and “Air” by Johann Sebastian Bach. The Ukrainians drew extra applause for innovative lifts and transition elements and scored 90.31 pints, a new personal best in the free dance. With the second-best free dance they moved up to third overall to win the second medal for an Ukrainian ice dance team in the history of Junior Worlds. Natalia Gudina & Vitaly Kurkudym had earned a bronze as well back in 1996. “We don’t really understand our emotions yet. After all we are on the World Junior podium for the first time. We are satisfied with our performances, it was one of the best we’ve done. For me personally it is very nice that it was successful, especially the twizzles, because at the Junior Grand Prix here in Tallinn I did a rather big mistake so I am glad I was able to fix it for the World Junior Championship. I am happy with this competition and this result”, Nikitin commented. “We don’t have a particular theme for our free dance, but we can say right away that it is one of our favorite programs that we’ve done. We really feel comfortable with this program and the emotions of this program. Everybody was waiting for it which was nice and we want to skate for the audience. It was easy for us to get into and it was very successful for us in spite of all the mistakes that happened (during the season). I love it and it will be sad to leave it behind”, Nazarova noted. The couple doesn’t have to say good bye to the dance just yet as they will compete at the World Championships in Shanghai next month. Nazarova, 18, and Nikitin, 20, would be junior eligible next season but haven’t decided yet whether they will move up completely to seniors or do both as they did this year.
Rachel and Michael Parsons (USA) train together with McNamara & Carpenter and are head to head with them in most competitions. The brother-and-sister team was close in fourth in the short dance and remained in fourth with their “Notre Dame de Paris” free dance (140.94 points). They made no mistakes and had good levels, but they can improve their expression. After placing 15th and 8th in their two previous Junior Worlds, they achieved their best result to date in Tallinn.
Bent & Mackeen were in for a big disappointment when he fell during the diagonal footwork in the free dance. At this level, a mistake like that is very costly. While the other elements had good levels, the diagonal was graded a level one and had minus GOEs, so that the dancers got only 2.96 points. For comparison, the Parsons scored 8.51 points for a level-three diagonal with positive GOEs. The Canadians dropped from second to fifth (140.30 points) and they won’t have another shot at the Junior World podium as he ages out.
Their teammates Madeline Edwards & Zhao Kai Pang were the World Junior bronze medalists in 2014, but low levels in the short dance kept them away from the podium this time. The couple from Vancouver was ranked fourth in the solid free dance but didn’t move up from sixth place overall.
The new Polish team of Natalia Kaliszek & Maksim Spodireve (he is originally from Ukraine) celebrated a successful debut at Junior Worlds by coming 7th. They had a dynamic free dance to “The Phantom of the Opera on Ice” and good levels – no wonder, as their coach is ISU technical specialist Sylwia Nowak-Trebacka.
Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron of France showed a lot of progress this season and finished 8th, ten places higher than in their debut last year. The team has relocated to the USA and now trains with Igor Shpilband and Fabian Bourzat in Novi. Especially their Bollywood free dance stood out.
Another young and promising team are Carolina Moscheni & Adam Lukacs from Hungary (she is Italian, though). Like Nazarova & Nikitin they have been competing at the senior and junior level this season and had good results such as a bronze medal from the Junior Grand Prix in Zagreb (9th).
The two other Russian dance teams disappointed. The rather tame Sofia Evdokimova & Egor Bazin were ranked 10th with solid performances while ISU Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalists Betina Popova & Yuri Vlasenko finished a distant 11th as their performances were marred by many small but visible errors. After sweeping the podium at the Junior Final, Russia had hoped for more than 1st, 10th and 11th place. However, the Federation chose Evdokimova & Bazin over ISU Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists Anna Loboda & Pavel Drozd, because they beat them at Junior Nationals (Drozd had fallen in the free dance). It put the Russian Federation in a difficult situation, on the one hand they wanted to follow the result of Nationals and also support the development of ice dance outside Moscow, on the other hand it would have been safer to send Loboda & Drozd who also have more potential. Popova & Vlasenko on the other hand apparently were not in top shape due to injury problems.
Katharina Müller & Tim Dieck of Germany are another newly formed team and turned in solid performances to finish 12th.