by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(11 December 2019) Four skaters from Russia, one from the USA and one from South Korea qualified for the Ladies Junior Final in the Olympic rink of the 2006 Games in Torino, Italy. The general level was excellent and all were very happy to have qualified.
Kamila Valieva (13) from the school of Eteri Tutberidze in Moscow won the event with 207.47 points. This school is by far the most successful single skating school in the world and brought seven skaters to the two Finals. In the short program, Valieva was fourth but only two points behind the winner. Her triple loop was a bit shaky, but the double Axel very good. Generally, her landings are really beautiful. Her combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop with two hands over her head was excellent and had mainly GOEs of +3. Many Russian skaters perform the majority of their jumps in this way because it raises the GOEs. She performed two of the three spins (all level 4) very well and the layback spin in an outstanding way. The step sequence (level 3) was also very good.
She used the music pieces “Spiegel im Spiegel“ (mirror by mirror) by Arvo Pärt (which the Shibutanis had used some years ago) and “Allerdale Hall“ by Fernando Velazquez. There is a story behind the program which made it a piece of art if you know it: She is coming off a Picasso painting, wearing almost the same costume as in the painting. At the end of the program she goes back into the painting. Her components were around 7.7, which seemed a bit low because many judges did not see her qualities yet. Valieva commented: “I felt the loop was wobbly but I knew I had to pull myself together, carry on and skate as well as possible. I was quite nervous - it is the Grand Prix Final and it is my first time here, but I know in principle I can skate clean. I just need to be less nervous.“
In the free program to the Exogenesis Symphony Part 3 by Muse, she proved how good the quality of her elements is. She had five more points than Alysa Liu from USA although she did not perform any triple Axel nor any quad jump. She opened her program with two excellent double Axels, a triple loop and a combination of triple flip and double toe loop. In the second half, where she gets a bonus of 10 per cent, she had two triple-triple combinations and a fifth triple, all of them in outstanding quality. The spins had several GOEs of +5 and the components were around 7.8.
“I’m happy with the skate and with the jumps I did“, she said. “It was a simple version today but it was clean so that’s the main thing. I wanted to do a quad toe loop at the Final so I am disappointed about that. I don't want to talk about my injury, but I came back about three weeks ago. I want to get my quad toeloop back and then I will see. I would like to learn a triple Axel too.“ She was also asked about the revolution in ladies skating with the quads: “It is thanks to Alexandra (Trusova), who started landing them, then Anna (Shcherbakova). If I don’t want to fall behind I have to land the quads as well.“
The reigning U.S. senior champion Alysa Liu (14) of Oakland, California, finished second with 204.65 points. She had taken a narrow lead in the short program, being the only one with a triple Axel. In a junior lady’s short program, this jump is allowed only in the combination and she added a good triple toe loop. Her double Axel and her triple loop were good, two spins as well and the layback spin outstanding with four GOEs of +5. She skated to "Don’t Rain On My Parade“ by Barbara Streisand. She commented: “My short program felt pretty good. I was very happy with it. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment even during the program.“
For her free program, she used a new version of the second part of Anton Dvoraks Symphony No 9 “From the New World“ called “Illumination“, adapted by Jennifer Thomas. She fell on her opening triple Axel, then performed two quad Lutzes, the first one with a triple toe loop, but both were under-rotated as well as the second triple Axel. Four other triple jumps were good and the spins excellent. But in both programs her speed was a bit low. She explained: “I‘m happy I came here and it’s a relief it’s over but I’m disappointed. My goal is always to skate a clean program but I didn’t do it. Laura Lipetsky has been my coach since I started skating and we have this connection. When I do something wrong she starts to talk and I already know what she’s going to say. I love Nathan Chen, Yuzuru Hanyu and Alexandra Trusova because they’re really good skaters and they’re fearless. Girls realize quads are possible and they try them.“
Daria Usacheva from the Tutberidze school won the bronze medal with 200.37 points. Her short program was technically flawless with a excellent combination of triple flip and triple toe loop, but her style less emotional. In the free, five triple jumps were clean, but she she stepped out of two others. Her music choice of “Je suis malade“ (I am lovesick) is a bit strange for a 13-year-old girl. She said: “I am happy that I am in third, but am not happy with the mistakes and errors I made, I could have skated better.“
Ksenia Sinitsina from te Moscow school of Svetlana Panova finished on fourth place with 195.57 points. Her short program had no mistake, and mainly GOEs of +3, including for the combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. Six of her triple jumps in the free were good, but the toe loop after the flip under-rotated. Haein Lee from South Korea is fifth, earning 194.38 points. Her short program was almost clean, only the toe loop after the Lutz was under-rotated. All her seven triple jumps in the free were good, but not excellent. Viktoria Vasilieva from Moscow ended up sixth with 184.37 points. The short program had a very good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop and no mistake. Five triples in the free were good, but two not a hundred per cent clean.