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2019 World Junior Championships

Russian Sweep in Pairs at Junior Worlds

 by Klaus Reinhold Kany



(11 March 2019)  The pairs competition at Junior Worlds 2019 in Zagreb, Croatia, had a relatively good, but no outstanding level. As expected, there was a Russian podium sweep.

The winners were Anastasiia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov from the St. Petersburg school of the Velikov family, winning 188.74 points. In the short program to the music “Party like a Russian“, they were third after performing five very good elements including a very good triple twist, which got nine GOEs of +3, an excellent required triple throw Salchow which even had one GOE of +5 and four level 4 elements. Galliamov’s double Axel was without elegant landing and his spin was a bit skaky. Their components were around 7.4 (in both programs).

Mishina commented, “Our short program was normal but it wasn’t good. We had a small mistake, I think because we were nervous. We woke up really early, so we are a little bit tired and there was a long break.“ Galliamov added, “The short program is over now and the new day is for the long program and we will start from the scratch on the new day for the long program.“

Competing to the soundtrack of “The Master and Margarita“, they could move up to first place. They began their free program with another huge triple twist, followed by an excellent triple throw flip which was rewarded with two GOEs of +5. Most other elements were very good as well, her triple toe loop a bit shaky and she fell on the second jump of their sequence of two triple Salchows.

Galliamov commented, ”Being third in the short program pushed us to skate even with more emotions and cleaner to move up in the standings in this competition. We work on choreography and dance several times a week in our group in order to push our second mark.” Mishina added, “I did not think about the mistake on the Salchow. I completely forgot about it during the performance.”

Apollinariia Panfilova & Dmitry Rylov from the Russian city of Perm won silver with 188.17 points. They skated their short program to “I Put A Spell On You” by Annie Lennox. Their first element was an outstanding triple twist (seven GOEs of +4 and two of +5), the other elements were at least good and their components also around 7.4. Panfilova said, “This was a good performance, one of the best of the season for us and we got a season’s best. We skated pretty well, but we could have done the death spiral and the twist better. At this competition, there is a long break, ten hours, between practice and competition. This is boring and tiring. Therefore, everybody is tired.“

In their elegant long program to the soundtrack of “W.E.“, their triple twist was even more elegantly landed than in the short program and this time they got five GOEs of +5. Most other elements were very good, but they did not show any side by side triple jumps, only a sequence of double Axel and double Salchow as well as a double loop. Their components had an average of 7.5.

“I am happy but also shocked”, Rylov said.I thought we would get the bronze like in all the other competitions.” Panfilova added, “We are also working with our choreographer, we do dance on the floor. The emotion in the program comes with the music and the feeling for the music.”

Polina Kostiukovich & Dmitri Ialin, also from the Velikov school, won the bronze medal with 181.59 points. In the short program to the soundtrack of "Tomb Raider“ they had taken the lead, but only with a difference of .80 points. They made no mistake and their best element was a spectacular lift which had eight GOEs of +4 and one of +5. Ialin commented, “We had a decent performance, but it was far from our best. As I already said at the Junior Final, If it is not our best, it means there is room to grow. We want to fix our mistakes in the future and we’ll focus on the free skating like we did today.“ Kostiukovich added, “I just want to sleep now. We are not used to skate so late. There is the free skating tomorrow for which we need to focus and need a lot of energy and patience.“

In the free program to a medley of "Xotica“ from the Cirque du Soleil, their triple twist was stellar and their triple throw loop very good Buth then her first triple Salchow of their sequence was under-rotated and the second Salchow only double. She fell on the triple throw Salchow, but all other elments were good, the two lifts even excellent. Their components had an average of 7.4.

Kostiukovich said, “This was a huge experience for us. This is our second World Junior Championships. So hopefully at our next Junior World Championships we can improve, fix our mistakes, gain experience to be able to win. Today during my performance and during the day, I didn't really think about my birthday today. I received congratulations via messages, but then I didn’t think about it anymore.” Ialin added, “Being in the lead after the short program did not affect me at all. We just knew we had to go out and do our job and that is what we tried to do. Unfortunately, not everything worked out today. My partner is very emotional and we have to work on the cleanness of the elements, because we get into characters, get emotional and sometimes this is overwhelming. So we need to really focus on clean execution.”

All three medalists were also asked what they would like to change, if they can change the rules. Mishina said, “I think it would be cool if pairs were allowed to do small lifts like ice dancers.“ Galliamov added, “Maybe I would like to add a choreographic step sequence, but it is not up to us to make the rules. We only execute the rules, but it would be nice to add this to increase the artistry of the program.“ Rylov explained, “We don’t think anything needs to be taken out, but personally, I would take out the death spiral.“ Ialin commented, “Maybe not only for the short program, but also for the free program we would like add a little more time so we are not running from one element to the next and don’t have time to breathe.“

Feiyao Tang & Yongchao Yang from China finished on fourth position, gaining 168.77 points. In the short program, most elements were good, the triple throw Salchow even very good, but the double Axel a bit out of sync and the spin a bit wobbly. The triple twist and the two lifts were highlights of their free program to "Feeling Good“ by Michael Buble. But Tang fell on the triple toe loop.

Two of the three U.S teams gave relatively good performances. The best were Sarah Feng & TJ Nyman, students of Dalilah Sappenfield in Colorado Springs. In their Flamenco short program, the triple twist and the double Axel were successful, but Feng stepped out of the triple throw Salchow and at the end of their backward outside death spiral Feng would almost have fallen. In their free program to a medley of Elvis Presley songs, the twist and the triple toe loop were excellent. In their combination the triple Salchow was good but Nyman’s two toe loops, which were planned double, became single and skaky. Feng stepped out of the triple throw loop, but the other elements were clean. Their components were around 6.7.

 Dalilah Sappenfield larer wrote on Facebook about them, “Sarah and TJ have been dealing with injuries all season. To be able to compete at Junior Worlds was a huge blessing! I’m so proud of how they never gave up and kept pushing through adversity! Fifth place here at Junior Worlds is a testament to their strength as a team and the support they have for each other.“

National Junior Champions Laiken Lockley & Keenan Prochnow are on sixth place with 159.54 points. They train with Stefania Berton and Rockne Brubaker in Geneva, Illinois, near Chicago. In the short program to “If I Ain’t Got you“ by Alicia Keys, five elements were good, the lift excellent, but the double Axel a bit out of sync. In their free program to the soundtrack of "Cloud Atlas“, the combination of double Axel and double toe loop was clean, the triple twist good, but Prochnow fell on the (under-rotated) triple Salchow. Lockley landed both triple throws with her hand on the ice, the other elements were good. These two pairs garanteed the USA three spots at next year‘s Junior Worlds which will take place in Tallinn, Estonia in early March 2020.

The Israeli pair of Hailey Cops & Artem Tsoglin ended up on seventh place with 144.28 points and the Ukrainians Sofia Nesterova & Artem Darenskyi are eighth with 140.88 points. The French pair of Cleo Hamon & Denys Strekalin finished on ninth place with 137.58 points. Strekalin had been injured in the main part of winter and they had restarted training only in February. Brooke McIntosh & Brandon Toste of Toronto are the better of two Canadian teams and on tenth position, earning 132.43 points.

The third U.S. pair of Kate Finster & Balazs Nagy, also from Colorado Springs, ended up on 11th position with 132.29 points. In the short program five elements were ok, but Finster fell on the double Axel and their death spiral was too short. In their long program, four of the ten elements were correctly executed, but they made more or less serious mistakes on the six other ones.