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2022 World Junior Championships: Pairs

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany






(22 April 2022)  The general level of the pair skating competition at Junior Worlds 2022 in Tallinn, Estonia, was low because there were only two really good pairs. No teams competed from Russia, Belorus and China. The USA could neither send their best pairs because the national junior champions Sonia Baram & Daniel Tioumentsev were not sent anywhere to get the easy minimum score for Junior Worlds. One pair was injured and two, who had the minimum, have split right before Junior Worlds although they knew that without some strong pair skating countries those who competed would have had a very good chance of getting a good result. If they had split after Junior Worlds, they would have had better chances to find a new partner. But U.S. pairs seldom think strategically.

Winning with 188.12 points, the new Junior World Champions are Karina Safina (17) & Luka Berulava (19) from Georgia who train mainly in Sochi in Russia under Pavel Sliusarenko. They were the only skaters in all four categories who had competed in the senior level in all championships, At Europeans (still with Russian skaters) and Worlds (without Russians) 2022 they placed 4th in both cases. They also competed at the Olympic Games 2022 in Beijing where they were 9th. The victory in Tallinn was the first ever gold medal for Georgia at an ISU championship.

Safina & Berulava had taken the lead in a flawless short program with 67.77 points and mainly GOEs of +3 for the seven elements, skating to a modern arrangement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. The triple twist had a level 4 and the side by side double Axel was excellent, triple jumps not being allowed in a junior pairs short program. The required triple throw Salchow was their best element. Their components had an average of 7.7. Berulava commented, “We are satisfied, everything worked out today and we’ll work further. For us, each competition is the same, we prepare and focus in the same way, regardless if it is Junior Worlds or Senior Worlds.”

In their free program they skated to the music “In This Shirt“ by the British music group The Irrepressibles. The combination of one triple toe loop and two double toe loops was good, the two triple throws and lifts as well. Their only small mistake came when Safina landed the side by side triple Salchow on two feet and stepped out a bit. Their components were around 7.6

Berulava said, “We are extremely happy to end the season on such a high note. It was a long and busy season with many competitions and to end it with a gold medal is really nice. We are very happy for Georgia. We already have some figure skaters in Georgia and an ice rink will be built so hopefully this will help the development of figure skating in Georgia. The postponement of Junior Worlds for us personally meant we had some more rest after the Olympic Games.“ Safina added, “We will continue to compete at the junior and the senior level next season.“

Anastasia Golubeva & Hektor Giotopoulos Moore from Australia won the silver medal with 169.91 points. They had also been entered for Senior Worlds, but they could not come to Montpellier because the French authorities refused a visa for Golubeva who is Russian. Giotopoulos Moore could not travel to Australia for about two years due to the strict immigration rules because of Covid-19 although he is Australian. They trained in Moscow until September 2021, but then his visa expired and he did not get a new one. It was difficult for them to find a country where both were allowed to stay. They found Belarus, but after 90 days he had to leave again, flew to Georgia with his Australian passport and back with his Greek passport. They could stay in Belarus until two weeks ago, were not allowed to travel to Senior Worlds in France and then went to Tallinn to train there for two weeks before Junior Worlds. After this competition he finally can fly to Australia because the border is open now. Their Australian coach Galina Pachin, a former Russian, always went with them and is meanwhile a grandmother. Golubeva has to fly to Russia, go to the Australian embassy in Moscow and hopes to get a visa for Australia.

They are the third Australian team to win a medal in pair skating at Junior Worlds after Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya (who committed suicide later) & Harley Windsor won gold in 2017 and Elizabeth Cain & Peter Cain (he is a renowned coach in Euless, Texas now) won bronze in 1976. In their short program they skated to a Spanish medley of well-known music pieces like “Asturias“ and “Malaguena“ which was called „Fire Dance“ by arranger Jennifer Thomas. The triple twist was a bit shaky, but the six other elements good and the components around 6.8. In their free program to “Sing, sing sing“ by Louis Prima and to two more pieces, the first element was a triple twist which was not clean, followed by a soso combination of one triple toe loop and two double toe loops, a soso triple Salchow, good lifts and a very good triple throw loop. But she stepped out of the triple throw Salchow.

Brooke McIntosh & Benjamin Mimar from Canada won the bronze medal with 156.80 points. Their short program to “Happy Ending“ by Mika was faultless and had mainly GOEs of +1 and +2. In the free program, he missed his jump combination and she fell on the triple Salchow. The other elements were mainly clean, the two throws good. Mimar said, “We’re just happy to be here, thank you to the ISU and Estonia for having us. Our program was not perfect, but we’re happy that we got the medal. Next season I'm too old, so we move up to seniors.“

Anastasiia Smirnova & Danylo Siianytsia competed for the USA, but were not at 2022 U.S. Nationals because both had been tested positive of Covid-19 just shortly before and it took them a long time to recover. Therefore Junior Worlds was their first competition after five months and they finished fourth with 148.43 points. Their short program to “Hey Big Spender“ by Janice Hagan was relatively good except for her double Axel which she landed forward. The triple twist, the triple throw Salchow and the lift were very good.

But in the free program, they made four serious mistakes including his falls on the triple toe loop and on the triple Salchow, her fall on the triple throw loop and an aborted lift. After being tenth in 2020 in the same rink, this was their second Junior Worlds. They are students of Trudy Oltmanns in Minnesota, but came from Dnipro in the Ukraine to the USA in 2016 and 2018 and still have their families in the war. Siianytsia’s mother and four year old sister fled to Poland in March, Smirnova’s mother as well, but their fathers and stepfathers were forced to stay in the Ukraine and are in the army now. After Junior Worlds they flew to Poland to see their mothers.

The German pair of Letizia Roscher & Luis Schuster finished on fifth position with 146.43 points. They have a good style, a senior-like pair skating harmony and very good lifts but are no good jumpers. One of their coaches is Ingo Steuer who has restarted coaching part-time. Violetta Sierova & Ivan Khobta from the Ukraine had to flee to their neighbor country of Poland (where about three million refugees are now) and finished sixth with 134.46 points. Chloe Panetta & Kieran Thrasher from Canada placed seventh with 129.70 points. Alyssa Montan & Filippo Clerici are eighth with 123.35 points and the Czech pair of Barbora Kucianova & Lukas Vochozka is ninth with 116.91 points.

Oxana Vouillamoz & Flavien Giniaux from France ended up tenth and last with 103.92 points, not yet having a good standard. They are coached by Bruno Massot who won the Olympic gold medal in pair skating in 2018 with Aljona Savchenko for Germany, but meanwhile works in his French hometown of Caen building up France’s first pair training center with five teams. In their free program, Vouillamoz & Giniaux tried a quad throw Salchow which they have landed in practice and put online, but in the competition she landed forward and fell.