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Grand Prix Final Junior Pairs

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany





(11 December 2019)  The superiority of Russian figure skating is in no discipline as evident as in junior pair skating. Five teams from this country and one from Germany qualified for the Junior Final, but no North Americans or Asians. As expected, there was more than a Russian sweep, because this country‘s five teams took the first five spots.

Apollinariia Panfilova & Dmitry Rylov, second at Junior Worlds 2019, won this competition with 185.23 points. They are neither from Moscow nor from St. Petersburg but from the city of Perm which is situated about 700 miles east of Moscow. In the short program, they skated to the “Matrix“ soundtrack. Their triple twist was outstanding and had four GOEs of +5. Her required side by side double Axel was a bit shaky, his Axel good and their triple throw flip very good: The Reverse Lasso Lift was convincing as well, but the Backward inward death spiral only got level 1. The components were around 7.4.

Rylov commented: “We are not 100 per cent satisfied. We could have received more points and also get more in the components. At the end of the step sequence, I just improvised a bit because we were ahead of the music.“

Their music for the free program was taken from the soundtrack of “Third Person“ by Dario Marianelli. They opened with another outstanding triple twist, followed by a double Salchow. Panfilova fell on the triple throw loop and her double Salchow at the end of the sequence with a double Axel and Euler was a bit shaky. The lifts were very strong, the triple throw flip excellent and the other elements good. Panfilova said: “Our feelings weren’t great straight after the performance, probably everyone knows why. But after everyone skated we were happy we had won. In pairs Aliona Savchenko is our idol and is one in a million. In singles skating it was Julia Lipnitskaia when I was younger.“

Diana Mukhametzianova & Ilya Mironov of Moscow took close silver with 184.37 points. They arrived with a new short program, skating to the famous Czardas by Vittorio Monti. Their twist was good, the throw triple flip as well, the lift not ideal, the double Axel very good and the components were around 7.1. Mironov explained: “It could have gone better, but considering we changed our program less than a month ago I think it was O.K. We didn’t decide to change it, our coaches did. I think we understand this program better and it shows our quality more. The music is much wider and freer.“

In their free program with music from the musical “Chess“, the triple twist was clean, but Mukhametzianova landed the triple throw flip very deep. The combination of triple Lutz, double toe loop and another double toe loop was clean, which no other pair in the world performs at the moment, not even in seniors. The two lifts and the triple throw Salchow were very good, the side by side triple flip, which is also very rare, good. “It’s our best performance by points so far but not the best by the quality for sure“. Mironov said. “We are going to work on our skating skills and the quality of pair elements like height and clean landings because without these things our programs don’t look complete in our opinion.“ Mukhametzianova added: “My pairs idols would be Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov.“

Kseniia Akhanteva & Valerii Kolesov from the Velikov school in St. Petersburg won the bronze medal, earning 179.68 points. They began with an excellent triple twist and a good triple throw flip. Her double Axel had not much flow after the landing, the other elements were good. Akhanteva explained: “In general we are quite satisfied with the skate today. We completed the task we set for ourselves for this skate.“ Kolesov added: “Today we skated clean, there was only one minor mistake on the step sequence, we got a level down for it.“

They opened their free program to “Shine On, You Crazy Diamond“ by Pink Floyd with an excellent triple twist and a soso triple throw flip. But then Kolesov could not land any jump of the planned sequence of triple Salchow, Euler and another triple Salchow correctly. Akhanteva stepped out of the triple toe loop, but their lifts and the triple throw loop were safe. Akhanteva said: “The jumps did not work and there were also some errors on other elements.“ Kolesov added: “We showed like 60 percent of what we can do. We basically lost two elements.“

Iuliia Artemeva & Mikhail Nazarychev of Perm finished on fourth position with 178.56 points. In their short program, twist, Axel, throw and three other elements were good, but the lift quite shaky. In the free to “Bohemain Rhapsody“ by Queen, the opening twist was good, but Artemeva’s sequence of double Axel, Euler and triple Salchow a bit shaky and she stepped out of the throw loop. Their throw flip was double, the other elements were good.  

Alina Pepeleva & Roman Pleshkov of Moscow came fifth with 172.53 points. Six elements in the short program were good, but Pepeleva stepped out of the triple throw flip. The began their free with an outstanding twist, but in their jump combination Pleshkov lacked one rotation in two of the three toe loops. Pepeleva performed a single Axel which he doubled. The lifts and the throw Salchow were very good, but Pepeleva landed the throw flip on two feet. Their spin had a change of direction.

Annika Hocke & Robert Kunkel from Berlin in Germany ended up sixth with 159.22 points. Hocke had been at the 2018 Olympic Games with Ruben Blommaert, and has trained with her new partner only for seven months. In their short program, they made no big but two small mistakes. In their free, eight elements were clean, but Kunkel singled the first Axel of their combination and Hocke went down on the triple throw flip. Kunkel explained: “It’s my first big competition in front of a crowd that is not just fathers and mothers and other skaters.“ Hocke added: “I think both of us are positive about our performance. Qualifying for this Final was beyond our goals.“