Juniors Take the Grand Stage

Maria Sotskova

The results of the Junior Grand Prix Final left no doubt that the Russian ladies will be a force to contend with going forward.

China also had reason to cheer with victories in the men’s and pairs disciplines.

Maria Sotskova, 13, led a sweep of the ladies podium with teammates Serafima Sakhanovich and Evgenia Medvedeva. It was the first season on the junior Grand Prix circuit for all three.

Sotskova landed six triples in her free routing including a triple Lutz-triple toe combination. She claimed an overall point total of 176.75. “I’m in shock. I was so nervous before the competition today,” she said. “I didn’t know what do to with myself. When I hit the first combination, the Lutz-toe loop, I was very focused on the flip, because it doesn’t always work in practice.

“After I hit the last double Axel I started really to have fun with the performance and at the end I was overwhelmed by emotion.”
Sakhanovich, 13, also executed a triple-triple combination in her free skate (triple flip- triple toe), and a triple flip-single loop-triple Salchow sequence as well as three more triples. She landed in second with 172.86 points.

“I had a bit of a hard time at the beginning but it went fine after all. I wasn’t nervous at all. I had a call from my mother and she encouraged me and told me not to get nervous,” the St. Petersburg native explained.

Medvedeva, 14, landed six triples in her long program and earned 163.68 points. “I made a small mistake on my combination jump (double Axel-triple toe), so not everything was perfect. This is my first time being in such a big competition so it was a very good experience for me,” she said.

Polina Edmunds from the U.S. ranked second in the free skate but placed fourth overall (161.71 points). Russia’s Alexandra Proklova landed in fifth (157.77) and Angela Wang from the U.S. was sixth (131.58 points).

China’s Boyang Jin won the men’s event, ahead of
Adian Pitkeev from Russia and American Nathan Chen.

Jin who was fifth after the short laid down a solid free program, which included three quadruple jumps – a Salchow and two toes – as well as six other clean triples. He racked up 218.73 points in total. “I am very happy to skate well, including the three difficult jumps and my score was very good too,” he said. “Compared to last year, this year I wasn’t so nervous like last year that is why I probably did better. I am also skating at a higher level now.”

Pitkeev’s free program was highlighted by a triple Axel-triple toe combination and six other triples. The 15–year-old captured the silver with 216.24 points. “For myself I am very satisfied with my skating. I think I did well and the two medalists next to me, I was impressed with their skating as well. I worked hard in practice,” the Muscovite said.

Chen landed a triple Axel and seven further triples – all in the second half of his program. The 14-year-old earned 214.61 points for his efforts. “I thought I did as well as I could have. Of course there is always room for improvement, but I think I did overall really well,” Chen said. “I got my triple Axel, which is definitely a big bonus for me. I got through the program with everything basically the way that I planned. It’s like a dream come true.”

Japan’s Keiji Tanaka won the short program but slipped to fourth (205.71 points). Alexander Petrov from Russia came fifth with 198.63 points and Ryuju Hino from Japan was sixth (182.39 points).

China’s Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin claimed the pairs title followed by two Russian teams: Maria Vigalova and Egor Zakroev and Lina Federova and Maxim Miroshkin. 

Yu and Jin’s free program to “Phantom of the Opera” included a side-by-side triple toe, throw triple Salchow and two level-four lifts. However, she wobbled on the double Axel-double Axel sequence and both stumbled on the triple twist. The 2012 World Junior silver medalists collected 163.52 points overall. “We are in first place and that is very good, but we are not satisfied with our performance, there were some errors. My partner has been sick and we didn’t have enough energy in the free skate,” Jin told the post-event press conference.

Skating to “Giselle,” Vigalova and Zakroev turned in a clean performance that was highlighted by a triple twist, double Axel-double toe combination, throw triple loop and flip. The defending ISU Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalists won the free skating portion and scored 161.57 points. “We are of course happy with the performance and the placement. We skated really well, not great. There were some small glitches,” Zakroev said. “We have been training the (triple) Salchow, but we are not taking that risk yet. We are only including elements that are a 90 percent consistent into the program, therefore the triple Salchow is not yet ready for the competition.”

Federova and Miroshkin completed a double Axel-double toe, triple twist and two level-four lifts in their routine set to “Cabaret,” but she under-rotated the triple toe and was shaky on the throw jumps. The defending Junior Grand Prix Final champions accumulated 156.55 points, a new personal best, overall. “We did everything we wanted for this competition, we did a triple jump in the program, actually we did the first three difficult elements and we are very happy about that,” Miroshkin said.

Three other Russian teams rounded out the field. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov were fourth (152.01 points); Vasilisa Davankova and Andrei Deputat, fifth (151.02 points) and Kamilla Gainetdinova and Ivan Bich (140.65).

Russia scored another victory in the ice dance discipline. Anna Yanovskaya and Sergey Mozgov claimed the gold medal with America’s Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker taking silver over teammates Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter who captured the bronze in their debut at the Junior Grand Prix Final.

Yanovskaya and Mozgov delivered a strong performance to “La Mirta and la Rosa” by Alessandro Safina. They picked up a level four for the twizzles, two lifts and the spin while the step sequences were rated a level three. The Muscovites earned 152.48 points to take the top step of the podium.

“Everything was super, but our performance still wasn’t perfect, there were a few minor glitches. We have worked harder on the choreography, on the technique, we gave a 200, a 300 percent and so we were able to improve (compared to last year),” Mozgov said on bouncing back after last season’s disappointing results.

Hawayek and Baker’s program to “Amelie” included a level four lift and spin, but the twizzles and step sequences garnered a level two only. The couple from Detroit placed second with 139.42 points overall. “We’re very happy with not only the medal but the two performances we put out this week. We skated from the heart and gave every ounce of energy we had,” Hawayek said.

Performing to “Sherlock Holmes”, McNamara and Carpenter produced five level-four elements in their free dance and collected 135.89 points overall. “We felt great to have placed at this competition, especially since it’s our first Junior Grand Prix Final and our second year on the circuit. Quinn and I were both able to watch both events for the senior dance,” McNamara said. “We definitely were able to learn from the confidence they put out on the ice and how powerful they are.”

Russia’s Betina Popova and Yuri Vlasenko placed fourth with 129.47 points, followed by Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin from Ukraine (123.17) and Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons from the U.S. scored 116.60.