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Lake Placid Junior Grand Prix - Day 1

by Alexandra Stevenson

(30 August 2012)  Lake Placid, NY

Men's Short Program

The U.S. World Junior silver medalist, Joshua Farris, who turned 17 on June 1, gave a mature and enjoyable performance to lead, as expected, the opening round of the Men's contest in the second of this season’s seven Junior Grand Prix events, currently taking place in Lake Placid in the arena where the Miracle on Ice US hockey win over Russia took place in 1980.
“To me, it’s all about how I skate,” said Farris, a Renton, Washington State born, now Colorado Springs resident after banking 72.20 points (39.00+33.20) for his Short Program. That was a massive 13.57 point lead over Keiji Tanaka of Japan who scored 58.63 (30.41+28.22), and lies second going into Friday night’s final.
Tanaka, who is also 17, performed to Afro Freak. He lost marks stepping out of his triple Axel. His combination of two triple toe loops was simpler than the one Farris presented and had -0.60 removed from the base value because of a flawed landing on the second jump.
Tanaka, who is from Kurashiki in Japan, appeared to tire at the end of his routine and his straight line steps and flying camel spin were only Level 1.
Adian Pirkeev, Russia, lies third, 1.13 marks behind Tanaka. He wore a tan outfit with a strange design. One poster declared she/he heard “growls in the music”. Though he presented only a double Axel, he brought off a +0.30 triple Lutz to triple toe for the combination. Like Farris, he was saddled with an “e” for his triple flip. He was the only competitor to earn three Level 4s, which were given to all of his spins. His steps were Level 3.
Farris, who was inspired to take up figure skating after watching the 1988 Olympic champion Brian Boitano skate, was calm as he drew for his place for the Free Skate. He explained that being the favorite had not put extra pressure on him. “I don’t pay much attention to the media. If I win, it’s the cherry on the top of the sundae. To me it’s all about how I skate and how I perform the elements. Today there were two bobbles that I wish had not happened.”
He began his routine, with its seven required elements, with a gorgeous, soaring triple Axel, which earned him an impressive extra +1.43 over the base value of 8.50 points. Four of the nine judges awarded him +2 Grades of Execution and the other four +1.
The judges appeared to notice only one flaw, although they awarded his triple Lutz to triple toe combination of jumps, just the base value, indicating it was adequate in every way but nothing more. One generous judge gave +1, which means it was more than satisfactory but the rest punched in 0.
His triple flip was “dissed” with an “e” for wrong edge take-off. However, two of his spins gained the maximum Level 4, which means it could hardly be better, while his final two moves, the combination spin and his straight line steps were Level 3.
The routine was set to the very rich sounds of Bach’s Suite for Solo Cello, No.1 in G Major, played by the famed Yo-Yo Ma.
Farris was fourth in 2009, when a Junior Grand Prix was also held in Lake Placid. Last year, he won Junior Grand Prix events in Poland and Estonia and was third in the Final in Quebec City. This season, the Final for both the Junior and Senior Grand Prix will be in December, in Sochi, as a tryout for the facilities for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
James Schetelich, the US Novice championship runner-up earlier this year, who trains in Monsey NY with Debbie Davis, could hardly be disappointed with his international debut although he lies 16th of the 18 competitors from 15 countries.
“It is thrilling to be here, only a four-hour drive away from my home,” he said. “I never expected to be here. It’s only my second competition as a junior and the other event was a domestic contest.”
He looked suave and debonair performing to Rich Man’s Frug by Cy Coleman, in a black suit with bow tie, but was penalized for two falls.
The first was on his opening move, a double Lutz to triple toe with the second jump receiving an arrow for slight under-rotation and the first jump an “e” for wrong edge take-off.
Schetelich gained Level 3 for two of his spins but he was disappointed he didn’t do better with the other elements. “I wish I could go back and do it again, but I can’t so I have to put it out of my mind and do better in the Free.”

Pairs Short Program

For the first time, the host country of a Junior Grand Prix is being allowed “as many pairs as they wish”, according to an ISU official, who also revealed that next season five of the seven Junior Grand Prix events will have a pairs competition instead of just four. “There are not that many events for pairs so the ISU is trying to make it easier for pairs to get experience.”
That explains how US Figure Skating was permitted four pairs this time instead of the previous host maximum of three.
The Americans are lying third (Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier), fourth (Madelaine Aaron and Max Settlage), fifth (Jessica Pfund and AJ Reiss) and ninth (Olivia Oltmanns and Joshua Santillan) in the field of 14 pairs from seven countries.
In the lead are Russians with a Canadian pair second.
The top three Americans could definitely have earned more marks. Denny, 16, and Frazier, 19, and Pfund, 13, and Reiss, 20, received no marks for their back outside death spiral, while Aaron, 17, and Settlage, 20, got zero for their change foot combination spin.
Denny and Frazier, who were fourth in the world junior championships, and Aaron and Settlage, who were 6th in the 2012 US Junior championships, are trained by Dalilah Sappenfield. Pfund and Reiss, who were 5th in the 2012 US Junior championships are coached by Peter Oppegard. These coaches certainly know pair skating. Sappenfield said it was a little frustrating because her pupils did the important things but made small but significant errors on other points.
Denny and Frazier performed to Malaguena, receiving 44.58 (21.39 +23.19). Aaron and Settlage, who skated to The Swan from Saint Saens’ Carnival of Animals, were given 43.82 (20.99+22.83). Pfund and Reiss, who scored 43.37 (21.73+22.64 -1) used Bolero for Violin and orchestra played by Vanessa Mae. They got a point removed due to a timing violation.
Taking the lead on Thursday night were Vasilisa Davankova and Andrei Deputat, the current Russian junior champions who won bronze in this past season world junior championships in their first international event.
In Lake Placid they drew to skate first, setting a standard no one could beat. They earned 67.64 (33.24+31.45) and lie 1.13 points ahead of the second placed Canadians, Margaret Purdy and Michael Marinaro.
Davankova, who looks very short with her tall partner, turned 14 on May 2, and Deputat, 19, who moved from Kiev in Ukraine to Moscow searching for a new partner, are a team that is going places. They got together in May 11, 2011.
He told one interviewer, “My previous partner had a very difficult character. Compared to her, Vasilisa is a real treasure.” She said, “I liked Andrei from the start.” Their coach, Sergei Doboskokov, says they are “workaholics”.
They opened with double Axels followed by a throw triple Salchow and a Level 3 double twist. Their lift and the flying camel combination spin were both Level 4, with the lift including a change of direction. Their back outside death spiral and straight line steps were Level 3. Their Grades of Execution ranged from zero up to +0.29. She wore a red polka dot dress. They skated to a well-known piece of German music, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen.
Purdy and Marinaro skated to Pucini’s Oh My Beloved Father. They gave an enjoyable showing which earned 47.84 (24.40+23.64). She was in light pink and he had a white top. The pair who placed 6th in the past Canadian senior championship and were 5th in the World Juniors, presented an impressive “drop” lift but lost marks on their back outside death spiral which got a B. Their steps were only Level 1 and their last spin lost unison at the end.
They train in Strathray with Scott Rachuk. Alison Purkiss is their choreographer.
Their Canadian teammates, Krystel Desjardins and Charlie Bilodeau, and Shalena Rau and Phelan Simpson, finished in a virtual tie, 10th and 11th with 37.75 and 37.73, just behind Oltmanns and Santinillan, who drew to skate last. These Americans, who are trained in Minnesota by her mother, performed to Zorba, the Greek. They scored 39.10 (19.56+19.54) losing points by singling an Axel and gaining only Level 1 for their spin and a B for their death spiral.

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