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Mexico City Junior Grand Prix - Day 1

by Alexandra Stevenson

AMERICANS DOMINATE FIRST DAY OF JUNIOR GRAND PRIX IN MEXICO CITY

(Sep. 6, 2013) Nathan Chen and ice dancers Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker were the cream of the crop in the first day’s competition in Mexico City’s Junior Grand Prix, originally scheduled for a new rink, but moved to an entertainment complex. The skaters are already feeling the strain of the high, 7,350 feet altitude.

In the Men's event, skating last in a field of 19 competitors from 15 countries, 14-year-old “homeless” Chen, whose Lake Arrowhead training location closed up shop this past Friday, presented a polished Short Program, cleverly choreographed with his triple Lutz to triple toe loop and his triple loop in the second half of the routine, where they earned the 10% bonus for jumps after the halfway point.

That made up for his first element being “only” a double Axel while his leading rival, Ryuju Hino, 18, from Japan, soared through a triple Axel. Hino had only one jump in the second half, and received two negative Grades of Executions, -0.80 off his triple Lutz to triple toe loop score and only Level 2 with -0.39 off his GoE for his change foot camel spin.

Chen, who was the U.S. champion at Junior Level in 2012 but only third in that contest last January, scored 74.22 (40.48+33.74). He lies an enormous 6.92 points ahead of Hino, the second placed competitor, an 18-year-old who has claimed his national Junior title for the past two seasons. Hino’s score was 67.30 (38.48+28.82).

Chen performed to music selected from to music from the Summer and Winter sections of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”. Hino’s dynamic routine was set to Kodo Drums, and finished with a sensational spin in which the rotational of his final position, cross foot, was so fast, it appeared blurred.

Andre Lazukin from Russia lies third with 66.28 (35.74 +30.54).

Chen drew to skate last again in the Free, but doesn’t seem bothered over the long wait to skate after the warmup. He said he had not expected to be in lead. “It was an amazing competition. I sort of knew I had done well after my last jump, when I only had a spin left.”

Chen said he and his coach Rafael Arutunian do not know where they are moving to and are NOT expected to train in Cathedral City.

The second American, Tomoki Hiwatashi, a 13-year-old who trains in Wilmette, IL, with former Soviet Union world champion Alexi Fadeev, had to withdraw after practicing, due to a previous ankle injury.

ICE DANCE

Kaitlin Hawayek, who turns 17 on November 4, & Jean-Luc Baker, who will be 19 on October 7, were runners-up for the U.S. Junior title early this year. They easily established a lead of 2.65 points here in Mexico City, with a smooth, light, extremely competent performance, despite ice that was a bit “bumpy and wet”.

The duo teamed up in June 2012 after he had had considerable success with his previous partner, who quit the sport because of back problems. He moved from the Seattle area to train with Anjelika Krylova & Pasquale Camerlengo, at the Detroit Skating Club.

They skated their Short Dance last of the seven couples from five nations, commencing with a Quickstep to “Happy Feet”, followed by a Foxtrot to “It Had to be You” and concluded with another Quickstep to “Sing, Sing, Sing”. The pattern section was clearly superior. They look very senior level, with joined hips and flawless knee bends, although they didn’t match the perfection they had shown earlier in the day in practice.

In second place are the Canadians Madeline Edwards & Zhao Kai Pang. Their teammates, Kate Desveaux & Dmitre Razgulaje, were disqualified at the draw.

Skate Canada is a very experienced Governing body but they had not checked his passport. He left the United States when he was around 18 months old, and has never represented this country. However, he has an American and not a Canadian passport, so he was not accepted for the competition. Skate Canada personnel are used to Americans switching to represent the United States. A most recent example came when American Piper Gillis  teamed up with Canadian Paul Poirier. But no one had considered Razgulaje anything but Canadian.

The second American duo, Chloe Lewis, 13, & Logan Bye, 15, who train in Portland, Oregon, and Novi, Michigan with Judy Blumberg and Igor Shpilband, lie 5th with 42.50 (23.49+19.01) just 0.21 behind the Russians, Sofia Evdokimova & Egor Basin.

In this, their first international, Lewis & Bye performed a Quickstep to “Oh! Marie!” by Michael Buble and a Foxtrot to “Call Me Irresponsible”, which concluded with a pleasing Level 4 lift.

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