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Grand Prix Final Junior Men

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany


(11 December 2019)  Three Russian, two Japanese and one Italian male skater reached the Junior Final in the 2006 Olympic rink, called Palavela, in Torino, Italy.

To the delight of the huge number of Japanese spectators, Shun Sato from Japan won the Junior Men’s event with 255.11 points and two clean programs. He is from the same city of Sendai where Hanyu grew up. Opening his short program to the music “Arrivee des camionneurs“ (Arrival of the Truck Drivers) by Michel Legrand with a good triple Axel, he continued with a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. The required triple loop was excellent, everything else good, but the interpretation a bit introverted. Nevertheless he got a standing ovation and commented later: “I’m satisfied with my performance today. I think I did 80% comparing to perfection. I would like to get a medal, but first I need to do my best and stay calm and concentrated in the free.“

In his free program to Nino Rota’s version of “Romeo and Juliet“ he was 18 points ahead of the other junior men and moved up from third to first place. He began with an excellent quad Lutz (14.46 points), followed by two good quad toe loops, the first one in combination with a triple toe loop (15.46 points). He landed two triple Axels and three other triple jumps later, all of them in very good quality. Spins and steps had mainly GOEs of +3. His components moved up from 7.2 in the short to around 8.0 in the free program.

“I was surprised at the points and that I could win here“, he explained, “but the reason was probably because of the quad Lutz, and because I was able to do all spins and steps 100 per cent as I wanted. So I think that added to the high score. I also watched Yuzuru Hanyu's program, and he is able to land the quad Lutz with ease. I watched Yuzuru’s quad Lutz again and again and learned from it.“

Andrei Mozalev from Russia won the silver medal with 241.48 points. He had taken the lead in the short program to the Russian Rock Opera “Juno and Avos“ because he performed the same jumps as Sato, but got better GOEs and components of around 7.5 instead of 7.2. He said: “I feel very comfortable here at the Final. I am happy with my skate, but there is always something that could be better. There is no limit to perfection. I competed in Sochi at a Russian event and in Warsaw (Challenger Series event). These were test events for me before the Final.“

In the free program to the soundtrack of “Step up“ by Aaron Zigman he had two good quad toe loops (one with a double toe loop) and four very good triple jumps. But he stepped out of the triple toe loop after the first triple Axel and fell on the second triple Axel. He explained: “I felt good after my skate, there were some errors but I have drawn conclusions from them. I’m happy with the silver, and I’m already very satisfied with getting here at all, it’s given me huge experience. I heard how the audience cheered for Shun and I knew he was landing everything.“

Daniil Samsonov from Eteri Tutberidze’s school took bronze with 230.19 points. He was the smallest male participant, only 14 years old but is a huge talent because he does not only have the jumps but an outstandingly elegant style for his age. He talks like an adult and is very ambitious. In the short program to “Rain, in Your Black Eyes“ by Ezio Bosso (which is known since Papadakis & Cizeron used it in the 2015-16 season), he almost went down on the triple Axel, but executed the six other elements (same as the top two) very well. The spins even had several GOEs of +4. He commented: “I’m as happy as I can be considering the fall. I tried to keep going and not lose too many points but just continue to the next elements. I was a bit nervous to be skating in such a big competition in such a big arena with so many people.“

Performing to “Per Te“ by Josh Groban, Samsonov opened his free program with a triple Axel, followed by a quad Lutz, both of them almost clean. He stepped out of the second triple Axel, but added five triple jumps in the second half. His spins and his style were outstanding. He explained: “I feel unhappy with my performances here. It was a difficult start for me, I had mistakes and couldn’t do everything I can. There are a lot of spectators, everybody supports you a lot, it’s such a pleasure for me. I’m very happy that in my first year in the Junior Grand Prix I got to the Final and won the bronze.“

Yuma Kagiyama from Japan came fourth with 227.09 points. In the short, he landed a double Axel forwards instead of a triple one backwards, but the other elements were mainly very good. In the free, a combination of quad toe loop and double toe loop and six triples were excellent, but he fell on the second quad toe loop. Petr Gummenik from Russia is on fifth position, winning 212.82 points. Being in a growth spurt, he fell on the triple Axel in the short. In the free, he went down on the quad Lutz which was downgraded. The quad Salchow and two triples were under-rotated, but six triples good.

Daniel Grassl, the only skater from Italy in both Finals, had bad luck because two days before the Final his landing boot broke. He taped it for the short program, but it did not work and he had to skate his free program in brand-new boots. This explains unusual mistakes and the sixth position with only 195.66 points. In other competitions he had had 240 and 250 points. In the short, he landed the triple Lutz not clean and could add only a single toe loop, the other elements were good, but his whole program was a bit careful. In the free, he had problems with several landings of jumps. He commented: “I had to change my skates because my last pair was broken. I only had one day to adapt to them because they’re very hard and different to the skates I had in my short program. So the performance is not what I wanted. But I’m happy that I’m here.“.