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2020 World Junior Championships

Pairs Free Skate

by Klaus Reinhold Kany

(8 March 2020)  The pair skating was the first category to compete at Junior Worlds 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia. As expected, there was a Russian medal sweep, but only the winners were really good.

Apollinariia Panfilova & Dmitry Rylov took the gold medal with 195.96 points in a superior manner, although they have no side by side triple jumps. They opened their free program with a huge triple twist which all nine judges rewarded with GOEs of +5. The two triple throws and the two lifts were outstanding as well, only the combination of double Axel, Euler and double Salchow as well as the individual double Salchow were a bit small and not very good. They competed to the soundtrack of “Third Person“ and had components of around 7.6.

Panfilova commented: ”It is not harder to compete when you are the favorite or when you come as the number three from Russian Nationals to the competition. The responsibility is the same. It was not our best performance, but we did what we could do.” Rylov added: ”The victory is very important to us as we have won throughout the season almost all junior competitions. Coming here, we wanted to end the season with the gold medal.”

Kseniia Akhtanova & Valerii Kolesov won the silver medal with 174.85 points. Their triple twist was excellent, the triple throw flip as well, but then she fell on the (under-rotated) triple Salchow and on the (under-rotated) triple toe loop. She almost fell again on the triple throw loop, but the two lifts and the other elements were very good.

Kolesov explained: ”Our program did not work out today. We made serious mistakes and not just one mistake. It helped us that we had a good short program. The warm up was good. It is nice to win a medal at Junior Worlds at our first try. The strong competition within Russia is pushing us. The stronger your competitors are, the better you want to skate.”

Iuliia Artemeva & Mikhail Nazarychev took the bronze medal, earning 171.18 points. The opening triple twist was very good, but then Artemeva fell three times: on the double Axel, on the triple throw flip and again on the triple throw loop. The triple toe loop was so-so, the lifts and other elements very good. Nazarychev said: ”After the performance we had mixed feelings. I waited for the total score and then for the score of the next pair before I knew we were on the podium. It was an important competition and an experience for us. The performance was not the best.”

Annika Hocke & Robert Kunkel from Germany kept their fourth position from the short program with the third best free program, winning 167.15 overall points. Tey did not fall. Their triple twist was very good, the side by side triple Salchow and the combination of two double Axels clean. But Hocke landed the triple throw loop on two feet and stepped out of the triple throw flip and Kunkel touched the ice with the free foot during the spin, therefore this element got no points. Hocke said: “I am quite happy with our result because sometimes I forget that this is our first season together. But we would certainly have liked to win the bronze medal. We will continue training right here in Tallinn because we will compete in two weeks at Senior Worlds as well.“

Cleo Hamon & Denys Strekalin from France finished on fifth position with 156.35 points. Eight of their ten elements were good, but Hamon fell on the triple toe loop which was supposed to be their combination, and also on the triple throw loop. Like the Germans, they will participate in Senior Worlds.

Kate Finster & Balazs Nagy of Colorado Springs came sixth with 156.26 points and are the best of the three American teams. Skating to "To Build a Home“ and to “Rain, in your Black Eyes“, they opened their program with a triple Salchow which he under-rotated and she stepped out. The triple twist was good, the first lift and the triple throw Salchow as well. Her double Axel in combination with an Euler and a double Salchow was a bit shaky, their second lift as well and their death spiral had only a basic level.

Anastasiia Smirnova & Danylo Siianytsia of Shakopee in Michigan placed tenth with 145.05 points. Their triple twist was very good, the two lifts and the death spiral as well. But their jump combination was not clean and Smirnova stepped out of the triple throw Salchow. Winter Deardorff & Mikhail Johnson of Colorado Springs ended up on 13th place with 131.53 points, after making four serious mistakes in the free program, including three under-rotations and two falls.

Alina Butaeva & Luka Berulava from Georgia finished on seventh place with 153.17 points. They had problems with the individual jumps, but the rest of the free program was good. Yuchen Wang & Yihang Huang are the better of the two Chinese pairs and placed eighth with 152.10 points.