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2016 World Junior Championships

Czech Pair Makes History

by Klaus Reinhold Kany
Photos by Robin Ritoss

(21 March 2016) Only 15 pairs entered the competition at the Worlds Junior Championships in Debrecen/Hungary. The level of the top four or five skaters was good, but the rest had no first-class quality. Anna Duskova & Martin Bidar made history because they not only won the pairs competition with 181.82 points but are the first Czech skaters ever in 35 years of Junior World Championships to win a gold medal for their country (or even former Czechoslovakia). After being second at the Junior Final and second at the Youth Olympic Games this was their first important gold. Both are only 17 years.

Bidar has a brother (named Petr) who is eight years older and also competed internationally on the junior level. Martin was the second-youngest male pair skater in the competition and still looks more like a boy than a grown-up man, but with excellent technique he could even handle the difficult lifts with ease. Duskova is a very good single skater as well and participated in several international events. They have an elegant style, a good flow and most elements looked easy. Their main coach is Eva Horklova and they train in Prague. Both skaters have a full-time school schedule with more than 30 hours per week and therefore do not have too much time for training.

They had already been in the lead with 64.71 points after a flawless short program to music pieces from the Cirque du Soleil. The GOE for all seven elements were mainly +2 or +1, their triple twist even had one +3. In their free program to Raul di Blasio’s music pieces “La leyenda des beso” and “Historia de un amor” there were also no serious mistakes, only the landing of her triple toe loop and his third jump at the combination of double axel – double toe loop – double toe loop was a bit shaky. The two lifts, the spin combination and the choreo sequence had mainly GOEs of +2, the triple throw Salchow and the triple throw Lutz were very good as well. Their components had an average of 7.3 and went up to one 8.0 for performance.

Duskova commented: “We really tried to do everything we can do and we did it. I have no words right now and I’m overwhelmed by emotions. I will focus more on pairs, but I like singles as well. So who knows. I think I’ll do some singles competitions, but not so many. Pairs will win. I competed at senior Nationals this year for the first time and I was third. Maybe I’ll do senior Nationals again, but I don’t know yet. My coach will decide. This season we skated only in Juniors and therefore did not take part in the Europeans in Bratslava. We are quite young for seniors. We also had to learn the triple twist in the short and free skating.”

Bidar added: For next season we want to try the seniors. It will be very hard, because there are three lifts in the free skating and we have to improve. When I was small, of course I wanted to become a hockey player, like all boys in Czech Republic. But my brother, my mother and my sisters were figure skaters. I’m happy that I also did figure skating. We do not plan to learn quads yet. We want to improve our triple elements first.”

Coach Eva Horkova said: “It was an exhausting season for my skaters with more competitions than planned. We did not expect to reach the Junior Final and did not know early that we had to do two free programs at the Youth Olympics Games. Now they need a break and concentrate on school.” Bidar did not show his exhaustion until after the end of their free program when he spontaneously sat down on the ice for a few seconds before heading to the kiss and cry corner.

14-year-old Anastasia Mishina (not related to the coaching family) and 19-year-old Vladislav Mirzoev from St. Petersburg in Russia finished second with 172.60 points. They had been fifth at the Junior Grand Prix in Colorado Springs in early fall after suffering a bit from the altitude. They did got get any other international competitions. But in February the students of Nikolai Velikov won Russian Junior Nationals and then Bavarian Open in Oberstdorf, Germany as a test event.

Their short program to Ravel’s famous Bolero in Debrecen was good, only the exit of Mishina’s death spiral was shaky. Their free program to French music pieces was quite entertaining with many good elements, including a triple toe loop and a triple Salchow, but he singled the loop at the end of the combination of triple toe loop – double toe loop – double loop. Their components were around 6.9.

Mirzoev explained: “We didn’t skate as clean as we wanted. We did one mistake, but the other elements were good. We did our job. We’ll continue to skate in juniors, but we don’t know exactly. Maybe we’ll try seniors as well. Our coaches will tell us. We would like to learn the quad twist and maybe the quad throw Salchow. But first, I plan to spend some time at the university where I’m studying.”

Ekaterina Borisova & Dmitry Sopot from Perm in Russia were the favorites after they had won the Junior Finals. But in the short program to Ninija by Maxim Rodriguez, Borisova fell on the double axel and therefore they were only fourth. Their free program to the soundtrack of Lawrence of Arabia was powerful, the triple throws and the twist were even world class, but especially he lacked a bit of elegance. Therefore they could move up only to third place with 169.00 points.

Borisova commented: “We’re 90 percent satisfied with our performance. We lost the missing ten per cent in the short program when we made the error on the jump. We still have three junior seasons ahead of us and hopefully next season we’ll win all gold medals. My idols always were and will be Ekaterina Gordeeva & Sergei Grinkov. We want to learn the triple toe as solo jump.” Sopot added: “We’d like to learn the quad twist as well.”

Renata Oganesian & Mark Bardei from the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk sit fourth, earning 155.08 points after an entertaining short program to music by Yello in which they play a car race. At their first Junior Grand Prix in Riga, the ISU had warned him to wear a Honda logo on his car racer suit again, because no publicity is allowed on skater’s costumes, otherwise you have to pay a fine of perhaps 1,000 dollars. Therefore Bardei wore a phantasy logo on his costume this time. Several elements in their free program were quite sloppy and not clean, so they lost their medal position which they had in the short program.

Chelsea Liu & Brian Johnson from the school of Todd Sand in Aliso Viejo, California were the best of the six North American teams and finished fifth, earning 147.73 points. In the short program to “Tango de los Exilados” Liu fell on the double axel, but the other elements were clean. The best of them were the triple throw Salchow (three GOEs of +2) and the lift (four +2). In the free program, Liu missed the same element and also fell on the triple throw Salchow. But the rest of the program was clean, the death spiral and risky the axel lasso lift (with two +3) even excellent.

Justine Brasseur & Mathieu Ostiguy from Montreal had switched coaches in the fall, leaving Josée Picard and joining the school of Richard Gauthier and Bruno Marcotte. They were the best Canadian pair and finished seventh with 138.67 points. They made no mistake in the short program, but nothing was excellent. In the long, the niece of 1983 World Champion Isabelle Brasseur (with Lloyd Eisler) and her partner were the only team except the winners to make no serious mistake, but the 0 for their elements dominated.

Bryn Hoffman & Bryce Chudak of Calgary, students of Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay, were eighths with 138.12 points. Hay said that his wife Anabelle Langlois expects their second baby, a boy, in May after having a three-year-old daughter. The third Canadian team of Hope McLean and Trennt Michaud from London/Ontario withdrew before the free program. McLean had a bad fall on her head during the first practice. They still did their short program two days afterwards without problems where she fell on the double axel. But the night before the free she suddenly had heavy headache and symptoms of a concussion.

The second U.S. team of Lindsay Weinstein & Jacob Simon of Colorado Springs finished ninth with 137.58 points after a short program with a good double twist, a good double flip with two arms over their head, but a shaky landing on the triple throw Salchow. Most of their free program was good except the triple throw loop, where Weinstein fell. The third American team of Joy Weinberg & Maximiliano Fernandez of Ellenton, Florida finished tenth with 135.71 points. They had a shaky landing on the triple twist and he on the double flip as well. The twist as well as the death spiral only got a basic level. Their free program was without fall, but five elements were not clean. In general, none of the North American teams had enough class, sparkle and artistry to finish near medals.