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Sui and Han Keep Streak Alive with Win at World Juniors

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China skated to the gold in the pairs event at the 2010 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in The Hague, Netherlands. Japan’s Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran claimed the silver medal and the bronze medal went to Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia. Meanwhile in the men's event, American Grant Hochstein won the short program.

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (CHN) are on a roll. They won the title in their debut at the World Junior Championships and have claimed gold at every they entered this season. They earned $15,000 (U.S.) for the victory.

They Chinese duo scored a personal best 109.77 points (60.73 element score/49.04 program component score) for their free skate and overall compiled a competition mark of 170.71 points.

Sui and Han are the second Chinese pair to win the ISU World Junior Championships. Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang won the title in 2001 and 2003.

Sui and Han put down a dynamic performance to the “City Lights” Charlie Chaplin movie soundtrack. “We are pleased with our performance and especially happy that we were able to show the quadruple throw, which is a very difficult element,” Han said. “There were a few little mistakes, but overall we think it was good. The quad throw is hard to do and we’ve worked together with our coach (Bo Luan) step by step in practice to be able to put it out in competition."

They opened with a side-by-side double Axel-double Axel sequence and a big throw quadruple Salchow, but she two-footed the landing. The ISU Junior Final Grand Prix champions also hit a triple twist, a throw triple flip and were awarded a level four for the spins, the death spiral and the two lifts.

Takahashi and Tran earned a total of 157.23 points. “We’re happy with our performance. It’s a lot better than the other two World Juniors [Championships] we have done. It wasn’t clean-clean, but basically clean, so we are happy about that. It’s great to finish the season like this,” Tran told the post-event press conference.

Takahashi and Tran’s routine to “Butterfly Lovers” was highlighted by a double Axel, a high double twist. A throw triple Salchow and difficult spins and lifts. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists earned 97.69 points and added another silver medal to their collection.

Takahashi and Tran are the second pair team from Japan to win a medal at World Juniors Championships. (Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Markuntsov earned the silver medal in 2001).

“It was not the best performance tonight, but I’m happy, because there was no big mistake,” Takahashi added.

Skating to oriental music, Stolbov and Klimov earned 91.09 points, establishing a personal best and remained in third place at 145.35 points. They landed a double twist, a throw triple toe and throw triple Salchow in the free skate. Stolbov fell on the second jump in the triple toe loop-double Axel sequence.

“Today not all our elements worked out, and so we were not able to fight for the highest spots on the podium, but we are happy to have held on to third place. This is basically our biggest success so far, our first international success,” Klimov said.

Tatiana Novik and Mikhail Kuznetsov (RUS) moved up from fifth to fourth at 139.63 points. They completed a rarely seen side by side triple loop. Britney Simpson and Nathan Miller (USA) slipped from fourth to fifth with several costly miscues.

(Grant Hochstein; Courtesy U.S> Figure Skating)

Hochstein took first place in the short program ahead of his teammate Keegan Messing and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.

Performing to “Sleeping Beauty,” Hochstein delivered a flawless program. He nailed a double Axel, a triple Lutz-triple toe loop, a triple flip and three level-four spins. The American posted a personal best of 71.35 points (41.40 element score/29.95 program component score) to take the lead.

“I didn’t have expectations for where I wanted to place. My big goal for this event was just to focus on myself and on my love of skating. That’s what I went out and did, and I’m surely very happy with the result,” Hochstein said. “Competing at the Junior Grand Prix series has built my confidence a lot. I wanted to skate with my heart, and I skated with my heart, and I think you always skate better when you love to skate."

Messing, who like Hochstein, competes in his first Junior World Championships, compilid 68.90 points (40.90/28.00), a personal best, for his routine set to the classical “Four Billion Years” from “The Soloist” soundtrack. “I felt pretty good about how I skated. I went out there, expecting to have some fun, and I had a blast out there,” Messing said.

The 18-year-old nailed a triple Axel, a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple flip and earned a level four for his combination spin. “I was coming into this competition as first alternate. When I got the call, I felt sorry for him (Ross Miner) that he couldn’t compete, but I couldn’t help to be excited for myself to actually be here, competing at Junior Worlds and to place second in the short program is pretty awesome.”

Hanyu scored 68.75 points (37.90/30.85). “Today’s performance was not very good, but I am satisfied to be in third place,” Hanyu said. “I missed my triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, but I am especially disappointed with my spins and footwork. I lost a few levels there.”

Hanyu opened his dynamic program to “Mission Impossible 2” with a triple Axel, followed by a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination and a triple flip. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champion earned a level three for two spins and the circular steps.

Denis Ten (KAZ) came fourth after missing completely the flying sit spin and wobbly landings on the triple Axel as well as the triple Lutz-triple toe combination (68.40 points).

Nan Song (CHN) is currently ranked sixth and still close to the podium with 67.97 points. He turned in a solid performance that included a triple Axel, but he received a deduction for the wrong edge take-off on his triple flip.