Web Exclusive

Ilinykh and Katsalapov Score Gold at Junior Worlds

Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov danced to the gold medal in what was a high-level ice dance competition at the 2010 World Junior Championships being held in The Hague, Nertherlands. They earned $15,000 (U.S.) for their victory. Canadians Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam took the silver medal and Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin of Russia captured the bronze. For all three couples, it was their debut at the World Junior Championships.

Meanwhile, Anna Ovcharova of Russia grabbed the lead in the ladies short program, closely followed by Japan’s Kanako Murakami. Polina Agafonova of Russia placed third.


Ilinykh and Katsalapov, the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists, scored 90.82 points (44.60 element score/46.22 program component score), a personal best for their free skate. Overall, they accumulated 188.28 points to win the title. “It is so exciting for us. I never thought that we would win Junior Worlds,” Ilinykh said.

The young Russian couple gave a spellbinding performance of their “Schindler’s List” program. "The theme of our free dance is actually very serious. The theme is the war, concentration camps and I am playing the role of (Oskar) Schindler and I’m saving Elena,” Katsalapov explained.

Ilinykh and Katsalapov‘s difficult step sequences and lifts looked effortless, and all their elements earned a level four and positive grades of execution.

Paul and Islam scored 83.15 points (41.50/41.65), improving their previous personal best significantly, and racked up a total of 172.37 points. “It’s been a really good week for Alex and I,” Islam said. “We’ve been training for this. We laid down three really good skates, three personal bests. We couldn’t be more proud of ourselves.”

The Canadian duo produced a fast paced Persian dance named “Sheherazade,” which that was highlighted by innovative lifts. The Canadians earned a level four for their lifts and spin and a level three for their footwork.

Monko and Khaliavin, the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final champions, ranked fifth in the free dance with 81.09 points, but they held on to earn the bronze medal with an overall score of 168.81. Monko and Khaliavin’s powerful Blues program to “It’s a Man’s World” featured strong twizzles and lifts. “Our performance today was far from ideal, the compulsory and original dance went better for us,” Khaliavin said. “Today we made some mistakes, but overall it was decent. It was a successful season for us.”

Americans Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, the 2009 World Junior silver medalists, turned in strong dance to “Tango Rhapsody” but missed the podium by less than one point (168.35 points).

Lorenza Alessandrini and Simone Vaturi (ITA) also were edged out of the podium by less than one point to finish fifth (167.84 points). They had skated a passionate Tango routine. Ekaterina Pushkash and Jonathan Guerreiro (RUS) came sixth with a romantic “Romeo and Juliet” program (162.18).


Skating to jazzy music from the Russian movie “The Hipster,” Ovcharova scored a personal best 59.80 points (36.20 element score/23.60 program component score). “I felt very nervous today and I didn’t believe my eyes, when my score was so high,” Ovcharova said. “I’m really glad about this.”

Ovcharova. (who will turn 14 on March 16), hit a triple flip out of footwork, a triple Lutz-double loop combination and a double Axel. She earned a level four for her difficult spins. “I wanted to do everything in this competition for my short program and I did,” she said.

Murakami, 15, scored 59.00 points (34.60/24.40). She went for a triple toe-triple toe combination in her expressive Flamenco program, but the second jump was downgraded. She went on to nail a triple flip and a double Axel and she also earned level four for her three spins and a level three for the footwork.

The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final champion was disappointed with her jump combination. “However, the other elements were better than in practice,” Murakami said. “This competition was my target for the season, and it’s still like a dream to be here.”

Agafanova, a tiny 14-year old, earned a personal best 56.28 points (34.28/22.00). “I changed my short program (after the Junior Grand Prix series), because both my programs turned out to be rather serious and I wanted to show a different style,” she said.

Mission accomplished as Agafanov gave a terrific performance. The highlight of her program was her spins, especially with her beautiful layback . She also landed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and a double Axel. “I didn’t expect at all such a high placement, after all I’m for the first time at this competition,” she said. “Basically I skated a good program and I did everything I can do."

Kate Charbonneau (CAN) finished fourth in the short program with 53.80 points. She gave a solid performance. Kiri Baga (USA) placed fifth place after stumbling on both the triple flip and the double Axel (52.28 points). Joshi Helgesson (SWE) completes the top six (52.10 points).

The ISU is awarding a global prize pot of $200,000 (U.S.) at the competition with skaters/couples placing between first and 12th receiving cash rewards. The ladies and men's winners will pocket $10,00 each with the top pairs and ice dances receiving $15,000, respectively, to split.