Russian pairs skaters took the top two spots on the pairs podium at the 2008 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships Wednesday in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Meanwhile, the men's discipline opened up with strong performances with American men leading the way. Adam Rippon (USA) skated to the lead with Russia’s Artem Borodulin and Brandon Mroz (USA) following in second and third, respectively.
Ksenia Krasilnikova and Ksenia Bezmaternykh of Russia took the gold medal ahead of their teammates Liubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze. China’s Huibo Dong and Yiming Wu earned the bronze medal.
Skating to “Spartacus,” Krasilnikova and Bezmaternykh landed a high throw triple flip, a throw triple loop, a double twist, a side-by-side double Axel sequence (she two-footed the first jump) as well as a double toe loop and produced difficult lifts with many variations of positions.
The couple from Perm was awarded 91.82 points (46.73 element score/45.09 program component score). They were ranked second in the free skating, but overall defended their overnight lead with a total of 148.12 points. Krasilnikova and Bezmaternykh won the gold on their third trip to the World Junior Championships after being bronze medalists in 2006 and 2007.
Iliushechkina and Maisuradze’s routine to an Abba Medley featured an excellent throw triple flip, a triple twist, a throw triple loop, an Axel Lasso lift and a hand-to hip lift that both were graded a level four. They also went for a side-by-side triple toe-double toe loop combination, but Ilushechkina touched down with her hand on the first jump. The only major error came when she fell on the double Axel.
The Muscovites scored 92.81 points (48.33/46.48) and won the Free Skating portion. Overall they remained in second place with a total of 144.86 points and claimed the silver medal in what was their first international competition.
“We competed for the first time in this event and so we lacked experience. Our performance wasn’t our best, we can do much more. Like in the short program, I made an erro,” Iliushechkina said. “We skated much better in Russia (at national events)," Maisuradze said. “The result it ok considering that this was our first international competition, but coming here we had expected to do better.”
Dong and Wu put out a dynamic performance to “Exodus” by Maksim Mrvica, completing a triple toe-double toe loop combination, a double twist, double Axel, throw triple toe loop and level-four pair combination spin. Dong only stepped out of the throw triple Salchow.
The Chinese couple earned 90.17 points (49.33/40.84) and racked up 141.33 points overall to move up from fifth to third to take the bronze medal in their debut at Junior Worlds as a team. “We’ve trained with out hearts and we gave everything to improve and we’ve worked harder than many other couples”, Dong told the press.
"This was a very strong performance, except for a small error (on the throw triple Salchow). We did two Junior Grand Prix events, but we compete in our first Junior Worlds and we felt a little nervous. We did not think about the result though, but just about taking one element at a time and to complete all elements successfully,” Wu said.
Ekaterina Sheremetieva and Mikhail Kuznetsov (RUS), who stood in third place following the short program, but slipped to fourth overall.
Performing to a modern arrangement of “Toccata and Fugue,” Rippon nailed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple loop, double Axel and received a level four for his combination and the flying sit spin. Both step sequences were graded a level three.
The Junior Grand Prix Final champion earned a new personal best score of 69.35 points (37.85 element score/31.50 program component score). “The competition here was very strong. And just to be part of such of such a great and big competition was an honor in itself," Rippon said.
Borodulin’s lively program to the Russian sailor dance by Reinold Gliere featured a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a triple loop, a solid double Axel as well as two level four spins. The Russian also earned a level three for the circular and the straight line step sequence to score a new personal best of 66.16 points (36.20/29.96).
“I rate my performance as very good, because I broke my foot just before the (Junior) Grand Prix Final and I was able to recover in one and a half months and I came here basically ready," Borodulin said. “I started to train in January, slowly, mostly just skating along side the boards, crossovers. I started to jump one month before Junior Worlds. Now I’ve got my triple Axel back, just one and a half weeks ago.”
Mroz hit a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination, a triple loop, the double Axel and was awarded a level four for two spins and a level three for the change camel spin for his routine to “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgski. The 16-year-old picked up 63.36 points (35.43/27.93), which was a new personal best for him. “I think it was a great event, a lot of skaters skated very well today, there were a lot of clean programs,” the Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist commented.
“I put out the Axel toe in the short. That was my goal and I did that," he said. "Overall it was very solid."