by Klaus Reinhold Kany
(11 March 2019) The ladies event at the 2019 Junior World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, had a very good level, at least in the top 15 or 17. No less than 46 ladies competed. This is more than the ISU likes because the short program took more than five and half an hour, difficult for the judges. Therefore the required minimum points for Junior Worlds might be higher next year.
14-year-old Alexandra Trusova from Russia defended her title from 2018 and won with 222.89 points, which is more than the man on fourth place in Zagreb had. If she had not fallen on the quad Lutz, but landed it in good quality, she would even have more points than the winner of the men’s competition. She has the nickname “Quad Queen” because she is the first lady to perform quad jumps in competition and no other lady has performed so many quad jumps. In the short program to the soundtrack of “Kill Bill” (where no quad is allowed) she was second, but with only 0.37 points behind Shcherbakova. Like all other top ladies, Trusova performed a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, the required triple flip and a double Axel. Trusova’s jumps mainly got GOEs of +4, her three spins and the step sequence as well. Her components were around 7.8.
She said, “On the one hand it is a little bit harder because I have won before so I do feel some pressure and I want to do better than I did before. On the other hand, it is easier because I have been here before and know what to expect.”
In the free program to four different music pieces, among them the soundtrack of “The Fifth Element”, she fell on the under-rotated quad Lutz, but continued with a very good combination of quad toe loop and and triple toe loop, followed by another excellent quad toe loop. In the second half she performed two triple-triple combinations, another triple and three excellent spins. This time her components had an average of 8.1.
“I am happy with my performance today”, she explained. “But I obviously need to work on my quads, triples, spins and skating skills. It was different winning the second time. I already talked to Eteri Tutberidze via phone and she congratulated me and pointed out the mistakes that I made. I began training the quads in April two years ago. If I get Grand Prix assignments, I will compete in the senior Grand Prix next season. I want to learn the triple Axel and the quad loop. The competition at Russian Nationals is very strong because the strongest skaters in Russia are there and they all have placed first or second in the Grand Prix.”
Anna Shcherbakova, the reigning Russian senior champion and also 14 years old, won the short program to “A comme Amour” by Richard Clayderman with the same elements as Trusova in the same excellent quality, but she had some higher GOEs because of her more elegant execution of the elements. The components of both skaters were almost the same. Overall she won the silver medal with 219.94 points. After the short she said, “I am pleased with my performance today. I did all my jumps as planned. Obviously, there is still room for improvement and things to work on.”
She started her free program to the “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” by Camille Saint-Saens with a quad Lutz which was a bit shaky, but backwards landed and had mainly GOEs of -1. Seven mainly very good triple jumps followed. Skating in a more elegant way than Trusova, she had components of around 8.3.
She explained, “I am happy with my performance today. There were some little mistakes I am going to work on like the landing on the Lutz. It was not clean, but still better than last time. I did not yet have a chance to talk to Eteri Tutberidze because I skated last and there was the medal ceremony. Like Sasha (Trusova), I began training the quads in April two years ago. We started doing them at the same time. I also want to compete at senior level next season and hopefully I also get assigned to the Grand Prix.”
The U.S. ladies were more successful than in recent years. Ting Cui of Colorado Springs, fifth at U.S. senior nationals, won the bronze medal with 194.41 points. It was the first Junior Worlds medal for a U.S. lady since 2012, when Gracie Gold took silver. Cui, the student of Tom Zakrajsek, had GOEs of +3 for her triple flip and double Axel and +1 for the combination in the short program to Rakhmaninov’s “Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini”. Her layback spin even had two GOEs of +5 and the components were around 7.2.
She commented, “I am happy with what I did today because even though things were not perfect I am happy I fought on each jump and tried really hard to land it. I am really excited about my placement going into the long. It is the first time for me that I am in the top three, so the goal is to stay focused and to try my best. I do not have any quads. My goal for the free program is to perform well to the story of Giselle. I think it is really exciting that ladies do quads and I think it is really cool that we are getting close to the men. Ultimately my goal is to land a quad too, so that is just a work in progress.”
In the free program, six triple jumps were at least good, the combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop even excellent (and got one GOE of +5). She only fell on the triple flip near the end of her program. Her spins and steps were excellent and she got components of around 7.7.
She explained, “My program wasn't clean like I was hoping for, but I am still very happy with it, how I skated and performed the character of the story. This is my second Junior Worlds so coming in I was a little bit more relaxed because I knew a bit more what to expect. I am very happy I was able to medal and make it to the podium. I did senior competitions this season, and next season I am looking forward competing with the older girls. Ultimately, that is where I want to be. I may keep my short program and I will be getting a new long program. As far as elements, I will be working on a quad and hopefully will put it in the program next season. I have always looked up to Yuna Kim and just remember her Giselle program, it made a huge impression on my mind and I always knew I eventually wanted to skate to Giselle some day. When I was a juvenile I skated to act one of Giselle, so I thought it would be very cool to skate to act two, with more dramatic music.”
The third Russian lady Kseniia Sinitsyna took fourth place with 188.84 points. She had come as a last minute alternate because national bronze medalist Alena Kostornaia withdrew due to a back injury. Sinitsyna’s elements in the short were very good, but she does not have the same sparkle as the three top skaters and had components of around 6.8. In the free program, five triple jumps were good, but the second Lutz a bit shaky and the second toe loop in combination with the triple loop was under-rotated. 17-year-old Yuna Shirawa from Japan finished on fifth place, earning 185.46 points. Her combination in the short program was good, but the flip under-rotated. In the free, five triple jumps were good, but two not clean. Young You from South Korea was sixth with 178.82 points.
Hanna Harrell of Plano, Texas, fourth at U.S. senior nationals two months ago, finished on seventh position, winning 176.69 points. Her short program was flawless. In her combination, the student of Alexei Letov raised both arms on the triple Lutz as well as on the triple toe loop. GOEs of +2 dominated. The first two minutes of her long program were excellent with four very good triple jumps and two double Axels. Her two triple flips, however, were under-rotated and she stepped out of the double toe loop after the first flip. Nevertheless the seventh palce is a big success after competing in only one Junior Grand Prix in this season, in Armenia, where she was seventh as well. Cui and Harrell secured three spots for U.S. ladies in next year’s Junior Worlds in Estonia. There, US Figure skating has three spots in all four categories.
Haein Lee from South Korea finished eighth with 171.97 points, Yuhana Yokoi from Japan ninth with 170.17 points and Alison Schumacher from Canada tenth with 158.52 points.