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2013 Grand Prix Final, Junior Pairs

by Alexandra Stevenson

Pairs Event Pits One Chinese Team Against Five Russian

The Junior Pairs Final consisted of a winning Chinese pair challenged by five Russian teams. The best U.S. results in the Junior Series were earned by Madeline Aaron & Max Settlage from Scottsdale, AZ, who were the first alternates.

1.  Overall 163.52; Xiaoyu Yu & Yang Jin, China, 1.SP 61.10 (33.89+27.21); 2.FS 102.42 (50.80+52.62 -1 for going over time).

Yu & Jin, 17 &19, from Beijing & Harbin, who are the current Chinese Senior champions, train with Bo Luan in Harbin, but it was Hongbo Zhao, the 2010 Olympic champion who also won bronze in the 2002 & 2006 Games with his wife and partner, Xue Shen, who was with the pair in Fukuoka. Yang said, “I never thought we would be coached by our idol. Because of him, we have been able to progress a lot.”

They skated to Massenet’s “Meditation”, in a beautifully choreographed and executed SP, which opened with side-by-side +0.64 double Axels. Their +0.51 double twist received the top Level 4 as did their +0.71 Group 5 toe ascent lift and the +0.80 Straight Line Steps. Their back inside death spiral (+0.80) and pair combination spin (+0.93) were Level 3. Their throw triple toe loop gained an extra +0.80 over its base value. Their component score ranged from five 7.25 down to one 5.75.

That gave them first place by 2.52 points. Yu said, “We skated well – up to our Level, but we missed our season’s best by one point.” They have been together for four years and this was their fourth JrGP Final. They won the bronze in 2010, but were fifth in 2011 & 2012. Yang said, “The result is important. But, to us, it is more important to have done our best and to be satisfied with the performance. We do feel some pressure.”

They skated their Free to “Phantom of the Opera” and they were second in this section, 4.08 points behind Vigalova & Zakroev, who had been lying third after the SP. However, overall, they won by 1.95 points. They opened with base value side-by-side triple toe loops. Their sequence of two double Axels lost -0.36, and their back outside death spiral only received the base value for “Basic”, which meant they banked only 2.80 for this element. Their flying change foot camel spin was Level 4 but with -0.04 removed from the base value.

Their choreographed section gained +0.70 over its 2.00 base value. Their pair combination spin got +0.57 but their triple twist lost -1.30, and the following throw triple loop had -1.0 removed from its base value. However, they finished well with a +0.60 Level 4 Axel Lasso lift, a +1.00 triple Salchow, and a Group 4 lift which earned the top Level 4 with just a tiny +0.07. Their components ranged from a high of four 7.00s down to a low of one 5.75.

Jin said, “We are not satisfied with our performance. They were some errors. My partner has been sick and we didn’t have enough energy in the Free. But we are pleased to have won. When we saw the list and we were the only non-Russians we did feel some pressure.” Yu explained, “I had a cold before this competition, and I had a fever. That might have affected my stamina.”

2.  Overall 161.57; Maria Vigalova & Egor Zakroev, Russia, 3.SP 55.07 (30.84+24.23); 1.FS 106.50 (55.19+51.31).

Vigalova, who is a small 14-year-old, & Zakroev, who will turn 20 on New Year’s Eve, are both from Perm, which is where the current world pair champion, Maxim Trankov is from. (Trankov left his family and Perm when he was 15 and went to train as a pair skater in St. Petersburg in 1999.) The current height difference between this new duo is substantial and they look like a one-and-a-half pair. Her size makes it easier for him to do a one-arm entry into a lift.

They have been 4th in their national Junior Championships for the past two seasons. They earned their entry into the Final by earning bronze in Riga, the capital of Latvia, and winning their second JGP event in Kosice in Slovakia. Last year they won bronze in the JrGP Final in Sochi.

They performed their SP to music from the movie, “Capone”. All seven of their elements received at least the full base value. Only two elements were rewarded with the top Level 4: their Group 5 lift with a toe loop entry, which earned an extra +0.21, and their straight line steps which got an extra +0.50 over its base value of 3.90. Their first and last elements were Level 3 – the double twist earned an extra +0.39 GoE, and the pair combination spin received +0.14. Their side by side double Axels made the base value with nothing added, but their throw triple toe loop gained an extra +0.60. Their back inside death spiral was Level 4 with +0.80. Their components ranged from two 5.25s up to one 6.75.

Zakroev summed up their performance. “Overall, it was good, but not 100%. Some elements did not get the Levels we wanted. We have been working on the components, and we have improved in this area. We are happy we got to skate the Free in the top three. There is no leader in our duo. We support each other. I am a calm person and I feel comfortable in her presence. We listen to each other.”

They had changed their SP. Vigalova explained, “We wanted to be vampires, but it didn’t work out. It just wasn’t our style. So we returned to a previous SP. We try not to fight. That is important for achieving results.

They won the Free Skate which brought them up to second overall. Skating to music from the ballet, Giselle, they opened with a stunning Level 3 triple twist which received an extra 1.20 over its base value of 5.80. Their side-by-side double Axel to double toe loop gained just +0.07 over the base value, and the side-by-side double flip got a mere additional +0.04. But then their flying camel combination spin was the top Level 4 with +0.21, and their Level 3 back outside death spiral received +0.40, for a total of 4.40.

At the half way point their throw triple loop received +0.90 for a total of 6.40. That was immediately followed by their second throw, a triple flip, which banked a total of 6.65. Their pair combination spin was Level 4 and +0.29. Their “choreographed sequence earned an extra of +0.70 over the only Level it has of 1. They finished in great style with two Level 4 lifts which gained +0.50 for the Group 5 (hand to hand) reverse entry, and +0.43 for the Group 3 hand to hip. Their components ranged from one 5.50 up to one 7.25.

Vigalova was bubbling over as she left the ice. “I think we did fabulous today. We skated very well.” Her partner explained, “We were in good condition and we had a good morning practice. I was nervous, more than I have been in Russia. I think that was because this is such an important event for us. But I calmed myself down. I would now like to work on more choreography.”

3.  Overall 156.55; Lina Fedorova & Maxim Miroshkin, Russia, 2.SP 58.58 (32.43+26.15); 3.FS 97.97 (47.06+50.91).

Fedorova, who will turn 16 on December 20, and her 19-year-old partner, are the currently Russian Junior title holders from Moscow, who were third in the last World Junior Championships. They presented their SP to “Clowns and a Girl” by Alfred Schnittke, dressed in very colorful outfits. They had a very interesting move in which she was dropped from way overhead onto his shoulder. They qualified by taking silver in Kosice, and gold in Ostrava. They credit their rink-mates, the current world champions, Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov, with providing them with daily inspiration.

They were the only pair in this competition in both sections to receive +3, and they earned this maximum Grade of Execution from three of the judges for their dazzling first SP move, a Level 4 double twist, which had +0.69 added to its base value (and also got one for their triple twist in their Free Skate). They also were rewarded with Level 4 from the Technical panel for their lift, a Group 5 toe loop entry (+0.64), and their straight line steps (+0.80). Their side-by-side double Axels received an extra +0.29; their throw triple toe loop was rewarded with an additional +0.50; and their final move, a Level 3 pair combination spin received an extra +0.31).

Federova gives a lot of credit to her partner. “We’ve been skating together for almost five years. I’m lucky to have him as a partner. Not many can deal with my character. He is always funny, making me laugh and supporting me.” Miroshkin added, “We searched a long time for music, and then our choreographer, Igor Tchiniaev, suggested this.

They went into the FS in second and, although they could not hold that place, they finished a significant 5.02 points ahead of the fourth ranked pair. Their FS was set to music from the show “Cabaret”. They opened with side-by-side triple toe loops but got an arrow for under-rotation, losing -1.50. The following double Axel to double toe loop jump combination received a minimal extra +0.07 GoE. Their triple twist, however, was amazing. Six of the judges gave +2 GoE, one gave +3, and the other two contented themselves by punching in +1, which means superior. Their next two elements, the throw triple loop (-1.10), and the Level 2 change foot combination spin (-0.39), along with ninth move, the throw triple toe loop (-1.40), were flawed. But their two lifts were good, earning Level 4 and +0.70 for the Group 5 Reverse, and +0.57 for the Group 3 version. Their forward inside death spiral was Level 2 with +0.70. They finished on a high note. Their pair combination spin earned Level 4 from the Technical Panel, and an extra +0.35 from the judges.

Federova admitted, “We had some errors – not so few actually! But we are happy to have included a triple jump.” Miroshkin explained, “We are satisfied with the result. Lina had a growth spurt and we have had to deal with that.”

4.  Overall 152.01; Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov, Russia, 4.SP 54.91 (30.54+24.37); 4.FS 97.10 (49.88+48.22 -1).

Tarasova, who will turn 19 on December 17, and Morozov, who turned 21, on November 1, were the oldest competitors and this is their last season of eligibility for Juniors. They train in Moscow, although she was born in Kazan, and he in Potsdam (which is said to be one of Germany’s most beautiful cities). They placed second in the Russian Junior Championships and were fifth in the last World Junior Championships. They earned a place in the Final by taking silver in the JrGP in Riga, and bronze in the JrGP in Tallinn. Both had previous partners.

Their SP was set to Roxanne’s Tango from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. They lost a full point on their double Axels, but the other six moves in their SP received positive GoEs. Tarasova & Morosov said, “This is our first Final, and I’m happy about that. It felt like a Russian nationals!” After the Free, he added, “Yesterday was better as far as skating skills go. We were able to skate faster in that program.”

Had they not been penalized a point for a fall in their Free, Tarasova & Morosov would have placed third in this section since they were only 0.87 behind Federova &Miroshkin. But it would not have made any difference to their overall placing. Their Free was set to a Bach Aria, with a center section from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. They had negatives on three of their first four elements (including a death spiral which was only awarded “B” for basic). But then they settled down and got good GoEs for the remaining seven moves, three of which earned Level 4.

5.  Overall 151.02; Vasilisa Davankova & Andrei Deputat, Russia, 5.SP 54.82 (30.54+24.28); 5.FS 96.20 (47.29+48.91).

Davankova is 15, and born in Moscow. Her partner, who will be 21 on December 20, is from Kiev, Ukraine, and came to Moscow looking for a partner in 2010. They teamed up in 2011 and won the Russian Junior championship at the end of that year. This past season, they were 7th in the Russian Senior championship.

Their SP, set to music from “The Godfather” was only 0.09 behind Tarasova & Morosov. They received positive scores for all seven elements, with their throw triple toe loop earning an extra +0.80. Their lift and pair combination spin were Level 4 with +0.29 and +0.21 respectively, but their double twist, back inside death spiral and steps were only Level 2 (with +0.30; +0.70; and +0.64 respectively).

Their Free was performed to “Notre Dame de Paris”. In a slightly similar situation to that Gainetdina & Bich experienced in their Short, Davankova & Deputat got no marks for their pair spin. They did not fall but they did something which turned the move into “an illegal element”.

6.  Overall 140.65; Kamilla Gainetdinova & Ivan Bich, Russia, 6.SP 48.40 (24.65+23.75); 6.FS 92.25 (45.77+47.48 -1).

Gainetdinova, who just turned 16 on October 12, and Bich, who is 20, train in Moscow. They teamed up in May 2011, and neither had pair experience. They have been third in the past two Russian Junior Pair championships. They qualified for this event by earning bronze in Ostrava, in the Czech Republic, and gold in Minsk. Their SP was set to “Mack & Mabel”, music used by the ice dancers Jayne Torvill & Chris Dean used to win their second world title in 1982. At the end, they added, “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing.”

They were skating OK until their final move, the pair combination spin, for which they received no marks at all. Bich explained, “I was probably too nervous. After all this is the first time for us to be at this big competition. A lot of things didn’t work out today. We made mistakes on the elements, you shouldn’t miss. If I knew why, we wouldn’t do these mistakes!”

They performed their Free to “Princess of the Circus”. They recently changed coaches and are now being trained by Artur Dmitriev. Bich gave the reason for the fall on their side-by-side triple toe loops, meant to be combined with a double toe loop, as “I think we lacked some training.” She added, “I think we need more consistency, but this was a great experience for us.”

Officials for the event included Charlie Cyr who was the Technical Controller; Simon Briggs, from GB, the Technical Specialist; and Canadian Jamie McGrigor, his Assistant. Hely Abbondati from Finland was the referee. Sam Auxier was the American judge in this event. Karen Butcher was the Canadian judge. The other judges were from China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia Spain.

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