For the second year in a row an American man stood on top of the podium at the World Junior Championships. This year is was Adam Rippon's turn to revel in a golden glow (in 2007 Stephen Carriere won the men's title).
Rippon compiled 199.90 overall points to win the title at the 2008 competition, being held in Sofia, Bulgaria.
“It feels great," he said. "I wish I just could have skated a little bit better, but I’m so happy with the result."
Russia’s Artem Borodulin claimed the silver and Jinlin Guan of China captured the bronze.
Overnight leader Rippon had drawn to skate first out of the top contenders. Performing to “Moonlight Sonata,” he nailed a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a triple Lutz, triple loop, triple Lutz-double toe-double loop as well as another triple flip and two double Axels.
His lone error came when he did one step too many in his double Axel-triple Salchow sequence and subsequently the second jump didn’t count. The American earned a level four for all three spins and a level three for both step sequences and picked up 130.55 points (66.27 element score/64.28 program component score), which added up to 199.90 total.
Borodulin opened his dramatic performance to “Berlin Concert” with a high triple Axel followed by a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, but he stepped out of the second jump. The 18-year-old Russian recovered to land five more triples and also showed a level-four combination spin. He scored a new personal best of 128.61 points (67.17/61.44) and racked up a total of 194.77 points.
“I think my performance was very strong. I did all I could do," he said. "The most important thing for me was to land the triple Axel and it was perfect. The placement doesn’t depend on me, it depends on the judges, but I’m pleased.”
Guan, who stood in fourth place following the short program, delivered a strong routine to a medley of soundtracks by Ennio Morricone that featured a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple flip, a triple loop, three more triples and a level-four flying sit and change-foot-sit spin.
The Chinese skater earned 127.13 points (68.49/58.64) and moved up one spot with a total of 189.60 points. The bronze medal was his first at Junior World Junior Championships in his fourth consecutive appearance in the event.
“I am very pleased with my performance. I didn’t think about my score, I just thought about completing the elements, and I’m very happy to finish third. I didn’t think about the podium, I was just training very hard every day, I made progress and I felt comfortable in competition the past two years,” Guan explained.
Brandon Mroz (USA), who was ranked third in the short program, slipped to fourth (186.20 points). He, too, skated very well and hit a triple Axel-double toe loop, another triple Axel and five more clean triples.
Michal Brezina (CZE) finished fifth with a dynamic Swing program that contained a triple Axel-triple toe loop combination and four other triple jumps, and he only doubled a Salchow (184.40 points). Kevin Reynolds (CAN) was the only skater to land a quadruple jump, a Salchow, in the competition and soared from 13th to sixth at 180.78 points. He also attempted a quadruple toe loop, but missed it.
Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates (USA) strengthened their lead in ice dance.
The original dance for the 2007/2008 season is the folk/country dance. The 30 couples presented an interesting variety of dances from Russia, Turkey, Spain, Poland, India, China, Romania, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, USA, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Ukraine, Greece, South Africa and Serbia.
Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier of Canada moved up to second and Russia’s Kristina Gorshkova and Vitali Butikov came in third. The top two couples are separated by less than two points, and the couples ranked third and fourth are not far behind.
Samuelson and Bates had chosen a Russian Dance to “Kalinka” and “Russkie Napievi” that was highlighted by precise steps, a rotational lift and a straight line lift. Bates slipped briefly after the side by side footwork, but recovered instantly.
They earned a new personal best score of 57.84 points (31.74/26.10) for this dance and lead the discipline with 92.95 points. “We had a lot of fun out there and hopefully portrayed Russian Folk as best we could. It felt great,” Samuelson said. “When we originally heard that it was folk, it was definitely something new and interesting. We were excited to try something we’ve never done before.”
Bates added: “For us today’s performance was pretty good, we just had one small error that I made, but other than that we were really happy with how we skated and the rest of it went pretty well.”
Crone and Poirier put out a characteristic Romanian Gypsy dance, compiling 57.52 points (32.45/25.07), which was a new personal best for them. They pulled up from third to second at 91.23 points overall.
“We were really happy with the performance, because we were able to do everything we had been working on the last month especially. I think the performance was really good and went to the audience as well,” Poirier said.
Gorshkova and Butikov had chosen a Greek dance that earned a new personal best of 55.46 points (30.53/24.93). They now have collected 88.98 points and moved up one spot from fourth to third.
“The battle will continue,” Butikov said.