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Mexico City Junior Grand Prix - Day 2

by Alexandra Stevenson

Americans in Top Spots in Day 2 of the Mexico City Junior Grand Prix

Nathan Chen, who turned 14 in May, blew away the opposition winning both sections of the men's championship which gave him victory with 218.62, 19.08 points ahead of his nearest rival, 18-year-old Ryuju Hino of Japan. In a surprise development, Daniel Samohin, who represents Israel, advanced from sixth place to take bronze.

Chen, who is trained by Rafael Arutunian, swept through his Free, choreographed to Glenn Miller’s “Chatanooga Choo Choo”, which was composed for Sonja Henie’s most popular movie, Sun Valley Serenade” and “Summertime” from Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess. His ballet training is obvious in his presentation, and both his routines were a pleasure to watch, and very audience friendly.

Chen had drawn to skate last in both sections, and outdid his rivals, even though he did not present a triple Axel in either routine. He was attired in a bright blue shirt with a small number of tasteful sparkles, grey trousers and red suspenders.

His FS earned 140 points (74.20+70.20). Afterwards, even though he knew he’d won, he seemed spent, and more relieved than jubilant. “I was nervous,” he admitted.

Hino, an 18-year-old from Nagoya, who is his country’s twice Junior champion, interpreted music from Prokoviev’s “Romeo & Juliet”, while Samohin gave an exhuberant Free performance in a multi-colored outfit to climb from sixth after the SP.

Samohin’s parents, Igor & Irina, are both in the skating world, based in Ontario, California. They had hoped their son, who is 15, would skate for the U.S., but that seemed a harder path, and they took up the Israelis’ suggestion, which is turning out to be a wise decision. The youngster drew to skate immediately prior to Chen, and delighted the audience with an energetic “Hip, Hop Tango” in a very colorful, fun outfit.

POLINA IN THE LEAD

Polina Edmunds, the U.S. Junior champion, had a very close fight in Friday’s Short program, taking the lead by only 0.37 over Natalia Ogoreltseva of Russia, in a field of 30 competitors (from which two withdrew) from 23 countries.

The very graceful 15-year-old, who began skating at two-years-old because her mother is an instructor, has already made a good start to her international career, winning the Gardena Spring Trophy. She skated to the “Pink Cherries’ Cha Cha Cha;” “Besame Mucho” and “Another Cha Cha”.

Her opening move, a combination of triple Lutz to triple toe loop, got an arrow for slight under-rotation on the second jump, but the other jumps, triple loop and double Axel were fine. Two of her spins were Level 4. The other spin, her final change foot combination, and the steps were Level 3. Her layback spin moved two of the judges to give the maximum Grade of Execution, +3. The blonde Polina is very slim and has long legs, so when she does a Biellmann, it looks spectacular.

She is trained in San Jose by David Glynn, her mother, Nina, and Frank Carroll. Her choreography is done by Marina.

Breathing down Polina’s neck is a 13-year-old newcomer, Natalia Ogoreltseva, who earned a score of 57.49, just 0.29 behind Polina. The Russian began with a triple loop and triple Lutz to double toe loop, both of which were give an extra +0.70. Two of her spins got the maximum Level 4. The third spin and the steps earned Level 3.

In third place, 3.49 points behind Natalie lies Julianne Sequin from Canada. Sequin, a 16-year-old from Montreal, who was sixth in the Canadian senior championship in January, gave an enjoyable presentation to “Over the Rainbow” and “The Partisans”, but her layback spin and step sequence were only Level 2.

LISA MARIE ALLEN ON THE SIDELINES

On the sidelines at the Mexican Junior Grand is past top contender, the still glamorous blonde, Lisa-Marie Allen. Skating fans will remember her duels for the U.S. title. When asked if her husband is in the skating world, she laughs, and says, “Thank goodness, No!” They live in San Valley and from that base she does consultant work. “It’s a wonderful place to be,” she says.

Allen is a skating consultant and a Technical Specialist, and agrees that is a very exacting and demanding role. “I don’t think it would be possible to do it without years of competition yourself. And the concentration is something only someone in the skating world could take.”

So, will she be in Salt Lake next week? No, her children have scorned figure skating. Their interest is in the strange world of competitive Irish Dancing and they will be competing at that time.

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