by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(22 April 2022) Without the three Russian skaters, the women’s competition at Junior Worlds had a good, but not outstanding level. Only two women tried a triple Axel, but nobody landed a clean one. Only one competitor tried a quad, but missed it. Nevertheless the top skaters gave very good and clean or almost clean performances which included all other triple jumps and triple – triple combinations in very good quality. With three gold medals, the USA were by far the most successful nation at this Junior Worlds.
In a close decision, the new Junior World champion with 206.55 points is 15-year-old U.S. skater Isabeau Levito who trains mainly in Mount Laurel in New Jersey under a group of coaches, among them Julia Kuznetsova, former Georgian Otar Japaridze and the 1994 and 1998 Olympic Dance Champion Evgeni Platov. She had been first and second at her two Junior Grand Prix this season, was third in seniors at U.S. Nationals 2022 and was kind of favorite for Junior Worlds. She has a very elegant and balletic style and therefore had by far the highest components of all 43 women, around 8.0. She opened her short program to “The Swan“ by French composer Camille Saint-Saens with an excellent double Axel, followed by a triple flip which got a small edge warning. She was the only skater who performed a combination of triple Lutz and triple loop, and collected 13.40 points for this element because it had a good quality. All other top women combined the triple Lutz with a triple toe loop, which is easier. Her spins and the step sequence (all level 4) were excellent and had even a few GOEs of +5.
She commented, “I feel I skated the way I wanted to and I didn’t hold back. I am very satisfied. I trained extra hard on the performance aspect in my programs and everything improved a lot. When I heard this song, I was very excited and I wanted to do it this year. It is something I didn’t do before. I was very eager to learn the new movements and ballet style for this program. It’s very fun to compete to it. I think that the Russians, who are not here, are very great skaters. They inspire a lot of athletes, they push the sport forward, they push everybody to try a little harder and they are very well rounded. I believe everyone admires them.
Her free program to the Russian dance of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake“ had six mainly good triple jumps, only the flip got a small edge warning again. Her spins were outstanding and her style very elegant again. She said, “Honestly, we put all the work in our training and when we are coming to competition we are just collecting our scores and medals, A medal is just the reflection of our training and how well we did with our moves.”
The three South Korean skaters all finished in the top five. Jia Shin was the best of them and won the silver medal with 206.01 points, just half a point less than the winner, and even had the best free program. In the short program to “La Boheme“ her jumps were excellent and the spins very good, but her components only around 7.5. The 14-year-old skater from Seoul is the youngest skater (together with the German skater who was born on the same day) and said, “I practice really hard every time, not only the jumps but also the non-jump elements, the spins. I train not only on ice, but off ice. This is the secret what made me better and got me here.”
In her free program to “Love Me If You Dare“ by French composer Phillippe Rombi, all 11 elements were excellent and had GOEs of +3 and +4, the spins even a few +5. She explained, “For me, winning a medal in my first Junior World Championships - that makes me so happy. My free skating is about love. This is a love story.“
U.S. skater Lindsay Thorngren (16) of Hackensack in New Jersey won the bronze medal with 199.42 points after not qualifying for the free skate at Junior Worlds two years ago in the same rink. She had been first and third in her two Junior Grand Prix this season and fifth at U.S. senior Nationals in January 2022 and like Levito had qualified for the Junior Final in Japan in December 2021, which was cancelled due to Covid-19. She is mainly coached by Julia Lautowa and also by Victor Petrenko. In her short program to the song “Writing‘s On the Wall“, performed by Sofia Karlberg, her triple flip got a small edge warning and her triple toe loop after the triple Lutz was under-rotated. The layback spin was her best element and her components were around 7.3, but she was a bit disappointed about the provisional fourth position.
She opened her free program with a good combination of triple Lutz and triple loop, followed by three good triples and two triple flips with a small edge warning. Two of her spins were stellar and even had several GOEs of +5 and her components were around 7.6. Therefore she could move up from fourth to third place. She commented, “My long program is based on the TV show “The Queen's Gambit“ which I watched and I really loved it. So I wanted to portray the main character, Beth. So basically in the show, her mom dies and her dad leaves her so she's like an orphan. She falls in love with chess, competes and she fights to win a chess game. So in my program I'm fighting to land all my jumps and skate cleanly and perform the best I can. I've played chess with my family before, but not competitively.“
Ahsun Yun from South Korea placed fourth with 195.87 points. Her short program to Nino Rota‘s soundtrack of “La Strada“ was flawless and her components had an average of 7.0. In the free program she didn’t make any mistake either and had seven triples, but her components were lower and therefore she dropped from third to fourth place. The third South Korean skater Seoyeong Wi came fifth with 186.72 points after being sixth at Junior Worlds two years ago. She had seven good elements in the short program. In her free, most elements were good, but she fell on a double Axel.
The third U.S. skater Clare Seo of Colorado Springs, student of Tammy Gambill, finished on sixth position with 182.81 points. In her short program to “Rain, In Your Black Eyes“ her landing of the (under-rotated) triple toe loop after the triple Lutz was a bit shaky, the other elements were O.K, the layback spin even excellent. In her free skate she moved up from tenth to sixth place with seven triple jumps. Kimmy Repond from Switzerland placed seventh with 177.10 points and Rion Sumiyoshi from Japan landed on eighth position with 174.58 points. She tried a quad toe loop in the free, but fell. Local star Niina Petrokina is ninth with 173.49 points and the second Japanese skater Rinka Watanabe ended up tenth with 165.44 points after trying a triple Axel in the free program, but was not successful.