by Klaus Reinhold Kany
(8 March 2020) The ladies competition at Junior Worlds in Tallinn had a good, but not outstanding level.
Kamila Valieva from Moscow celebrated a run-away victory with 227.30 points. Although she is only 13 years old, she has the elegance and maturity of a senior skater. She opened her free program to “Exogenesis Part 3“ by Muse with a quad toe loop, but stepped out. But 15 seconds later she performed a very good second quad toe loop with a double toe loop. No other lady tried a quad toe loop. Everything else was stellar: six triples, spins with difficult Biellmann positions which even received mainly GOEs of +5, the step sequence and the linking steps. Her components had an average of 8.3.
She commented: ”There was a little mistake on the toe loop, but basically I am pleased with my performance. In training in Moscow, I'm usually watching how Ania (Anna Shcherbakova), Sasha (Alexandra Trusova) and Alena (Kostornaia) are skating and I'm taking something from them. I skated in Kazan until I was five or six years old, I was just skating for myself and I didn't think about competitions. I started to think about that only at my first Moscow Championships that I won. Next I have to learn new jumps, new quads and we'll have a show. I started to learn the quad toe loop somewhere in beginning of April (2019), I first did it on April 26, my birthday. Then I practiced it and in June, I put it into the program.”
Daria Usacheva, also from Russia, won the silver medal, earning 207.74 points. She has no quad nor triple Axel, but performed a clean free program with seven triple jumps, mostly high and impressive, which were rewarded with mainly +4 and +3. Her spins were stellar, her presentation excellent and the components around 7.9. ”I am so happy to have skated clean”, she commented later, ”but I can do all jumps better. My next competition is the Spartakiade. Then I want to learn quads and the triple Axel and I want to skate my programs clean with these jumps. It was a huge experience here and the atmosphere and the scale of the event is like at the Grand Prix Final, but the significance of the competition feels bigger. I really enjoyed skating here.”
U.S. senior Champion Alysa Liu won a bronze medal at her first Junior World Championship, getting 204.83 points. Her first element was a combination of triple Axel (under-rotated) and double toe loop, her second one the quad Lutz, but she went down. All other elements were at least good and mostly very good, including the second triple Axel and six other triples. Her spins were excellent and her components around 7.5.
She explained: ”I was very happy with my placement and I was very excited to be here. Coming up, I really want to improve my quad Lutz, my triple Axel, maybe learn some new quads, improve my spins, skating skills, basically everything. I think I was 12 when I wanted to do the triple Axel, so I started working on it and then I eventually got it like two months later. My quad Lutz - I wanted to learn it, because the triple Lutz was my easiest triple. So I just decided to attempt quad Lutzes. I definitely look up to a few people in the seniors, probably Anna Shcherbakova, Alena Kostornaia and Alexandra Trusova. They are the top three. I'm not age eligible for seniors next year and I don't mind that. It's more time to train before you go to a higher level internationally.
The third Russian skater Maiia Khromykh finished on fourth position with 198.24 points. Like the other two other Russians she is from the Tutberidze school, but her sparkle and elegance is a bit lower. She stepped out and touched her hand on the quad Salchow, but most other elements were very good, including seven triples.
The two South Korean ladies were very close and allow their country to send three ladies to Junior Worlds next year. Haein Lee placed fifth with 194.01 points. She has a fresh and elegant style. Six of her triple jumps, spins and steps are very good. She only fell on the triple flip which was downgraded. Seoyeong Wi has a similar style and finished sixth with 193.30 points. Ekaterina Kurakova from Poland is seventh with 184.51 points.
The second U.S. skater Starr Andrews of Riverside, California, came eighth with 180.87 points. She opened the free program with an excellent and sovereign combination of triple toe loop and another triple toe loop. The triple flip was a bit shaky, two more triples very good, but the Salchow under-rotated. Her eight place and the bronze medal of Alysa Liu are good enough for U.S. Figure Skating to send three ladies again to next year’s Junior Worlds which is planned in Harbin in North China at the moment. Alison Schuhmacher from Canada is ninth with 174.02 points. The third U.S. skater Lindsay Thorngren from Hackensack, New Jersey, ended up on 26th place in the short and therefore did not reach the Final.