Alexandra Trusova wins with historical two quads in Sofia
Russian gold medal sweep at Junior Worlds
by Tatjana Flade
(14 March 2018) A 13-year-old Russian figure skater has written history at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia: Alexandra Trusova became the first female skater to land a quad toe and to land two quads in one program. As expected, Russia dominated the event and not only swept the gold medals – like they had done in 1996 for the last time - but collected nine out of the 12 medals. The remaining medals went to Italy, Japan and the USA
Sofia hosted Junior Worlds for the fifth time, but this time they used a new arena and the former venue became the practice rink. The new multifunctional arena “Armeec” was much nicer than the run-down Winer Sport Palace. However, the lights went off during the Men’s short program for a few minutes and some time was needed before the lights were fully back. At least that didn’t happen during someone’s performance and the delays were not too long.
Obviously Trusova and her quads were the sensation of the event. She included the quad Salchow all season into her free skating, but it did not work, she either fell or the jump was underrotated. Nevertheless, at the Junior Final the teen boldly announced she next wants to learn the triple Axel and the quad toe. There is no triple Axel yet, but she got the toe under her belt quickly. She did not only the two quads, but also her other elements were very good including a triple flip-triple loop combination and at triple Lutz-triple loop. With her score of 225.52 points, Trusova would have been second in the Junior Men’s event – even with a jump less and a lower factor for the components. If you take another jump and the higher component factor into account, she even would have won gold in the Men’s. “Alexey (Erokhov) would not have forgiven me for that,” the skater joked and added that she’d like to compete with boys if that was possible.
In Russia there were some critical comments from male journalists that are obviously thinking in old, patriarchal ways, saying that women should leave the quads to men. Of course you can criticize that quads take away from the artistry in figure skating, but it is the same for the men. The development of the sport cannot be stopped and female athletes have proved on numerous occasions that they can achieve the same as men, even though not everyone likes that.
Besides the quad records there were many more excellent performances. Trusova’s practice mate Alena Kostornaia is another great talent, elegant, expressive, with good skating skills and consistent triple-triple combinations in her Tango short program as well as in her free skating to „Stella‘s Theme“ by William Joseph. The only error came when she stepped out of her triple Lutz in the long. “I am not so happy about my performance, but the result is satisfactory,” the 14-year-old said. She had already taken the bronze medal at senior Nationals. “Now I want to learn the triple Axel or the quad toe,” she announced.
Like Trusova she still will be too young to compete at the international senior level next season. The bronze for Japan’s Mako Yamashita was a bit surprising. The dynamic 15-year-old had not qualified for the Junior Final, but she is a strong jumper, did all the triples and made no mistake. 17-year-old Stanislava Konstantinova from St. Petersburg has a more grown-up style than the younger girls, but she had to settle for fourth place as she underrotated a triple toe in the short and some jumps in the free were tight and didn’t garner many points on the GOE. Junior Worlds turned out to be an important test for Konstantinova who a few days later replaced Evgenia Medvedeva on the Worlds team. Korea’s Eunsoo Lim convinced in her performances and could have deserved a higher placement in the short. Rika Kihira of Japan fell on her combination in the short program and singled both her planned triple Axels in the free so that she had no chance to be on the podium.
Americans Ting Cui and Emmy Ma debuted at Junior Worlds, but they were not consistent enough to place higher than 7th and 19th.
Gold for Erokhov, Bad Luck for Krasnozhon
There are so many strong girls coming out of Eteri Tutberidze‘s club that it is easy to forget that they have also male skaters there. Alexey Erokhov has been a student of Tutberidze for a long time and has worked up his way step by step. The 18-year-old, who a few years ago suffered from a severe groin injury, is a solid, but not too spectacular skater. Following his clean short to „Lighthouse“ by Patrick Watson he trailed the leader Alexei Krasnozhon by almost four points, sitting in second. In the free he skated last and had to witness how his injured competitor Krasnozhon limped off the ice. “I came out and my coach turned me around and told me, ‘let’s go over there, we warm up over there’, but at that moment I already had realized that something had happened. I’ve never been in a situation like that before and I got a bit nervous. I didn’t know what had happened and when I was going to skate. I am very upset that Alexei had to withdraw and I wish him a quick recovery. But that’s the sport and anything can happen,” Erokhov said. “This victory means a lot to me, because I set a goal for myself to move up to the senior level after this season and to be competitive. I am really happy about this win. I’ll try to go on and to take first places. To be honest, the performance was not the best. There were many mistakes,” he noted.
Skating to Piano Concerto No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninov, the Russian opened with a quad-triple toe, a quad Salchow with a step out and a triple Axel-double toe. Later he tripled his second planned quad toe and fell on it and the second triple Axel was not clean either, but his victory was not in danger.
Krasnozhon had led after the short thanks to the more difficult combination triple flip-triple loop and a little higher components. For the free skating the Russian born skater had set the goal to finally land a clean quad in competition and had replaced the quad loop with the quad Salchow. That was his first jump, but the 17-year-old took an unfortunate fall, injured his right ankle and was not able to continue. In hospital x-rays were done, but there was no MRT, so the doctors could not give an exact diagnosis of the extent of the injury.
Artur Danielian from Volgograd, who has been training in CSKA Moscow since 2016, is very talented. The 14-year-old ranked eighth with his Flamenco short program following a fall on the triple loop-triple toe combination. He rallied back in the free, landed all his triples including two Axels and impressed with strong presentation skills. When he suddenly was on the podium, everyone started looking for him, but he had followed the competition on the tribune and already went back to the dressing room to get changed for the awards ceremony. “For me this second place is very unexpected. I came here to skate clean and to show what we’ve worked on this season, show consistent skating and to make the people that work with me happy,” the teenager said. “This second place is a motivation for me to continue to work, learn quads and be competitive. I want to skate well in the Junior Grand Prix, get to the Junior Grand Prix Final and come back to Junior Worlds,” he continued.
Matteo Rizzo placed sixth in short and long program but claimed the bronze medal – the first medal for an Italian male single skater at Junior Worlds. The Milanese was the only skater at Junior Worlds that had competed at Pyeongchang, so maybe he was a bit tired and therefore made a few mistakes. But he wanted to come to his last Junior Worlds and use his chance to win a medal, which he did.
“This result was important to me, because it is my last junior competition, it’s my last junior year. I competed in the Olympic Games and it was amazing, but this (medal) is a big step to be at a good level in the seniors,” the 19-year-old noted. “I worked hard for the Olympic Games, that was my first goal and winning a medal here was my second goal. All achieved, but it was work, not luck,“ he continued.
Canadian Joseph Phan botched an underrotated triple Axel in the short program but did much better in free that featured a quad toe-double toe combination and so he pulled up ten spots and was ranked third in the free skating. Russia’s Roman Savosin landed his jumps including two quad toes and triple Axels, but he mostly had a zero GOE. Medal hopeful Camden Pulkinen, second the Junior Final, reduced his combination in the short program to double flip-double toe and stumbled on the Lutz, so that he stood in 17th place, but similar to Nathan Chen he moved up a lot with a much better free skating (6th). Together with Tomoki Hiwatashi, who ranked seventh, he secured the third spot for next year. Mitsuki Sumoto of Japan came third with a solid short but then plummeted to ninth as many jumps were not clean. Germany’s Jonathan Hess left a positive impression in his Junior Worlds debut with clean programs (10th).
Russians Sweep the Pairs
The Russian junior pairs followed in the footsteps of their senior teammates and swept the podium as the seniors had at Europeans. The event looked open as defending champions Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya & Harley Windsor of Australia had moved up to seniors and 2017 silver medalists Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitrii Kozlovskii did not qualify inside Russia. Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalists Daria Pavliuchenko & Denis Khodykin celebrated a clear victory. The Muscovites not only have triple throws and jumps in their repertoire – like a triple toe-triple toe sequence and a triple Salchow (although the sequence was not clean), but they also impress with interesting choreography and transitions especially in their Chicago free program. They train in Moscow under Sergei Dobroskokov and Sergei Rosliakov.
“We are pleased with the result. There were still some minor mistakes in the performance, probably because of nerves and stress, it was the (Junior) World Championship after all, but overall we are happy with our performance. (on what they want to improve for next season) For the future, we want to perfect what we have and learn new elements. That could be jumps or pair elements. We’ll decide about that with our coaching team,” Khodykin shared.
Polina Kostiukovich & Dmitrii Ialin from St. Petersburg have a high degree of difficulty in their program as well, even a quad twist, but Polina fell on two solo jumps and the throw triple Salchow. “We are happy about the result, but there were quite a few errors and falls in the program. We prepared very well, but the last starting number affected us. We’ll continue to work to make sure that doesn’t happen again”, said the tiny skater who celebrated her 15th birthday the day of the short program, but looks more like she is 12.
Two years ago Anastasia Mishina had taken silver with Vladislav Mirzoev at Junior Worlds. This season she returned on to the international scene with her new partner Aleksandr Galiamov. The team from St. Petersburg, coached by Liudmila and Nikolai Velikov and their grandson Vasili are tall and their jumps and throws are high. However, she fell on the triple Salchow in the free. “We are happy to be here. It is not easy to get selected in Russia for the World Championships, because we are skating in our first season together. It was not our best performance, we can skate without mistakes,” Mishina noted. All three Russian teams are still junior eligible next season.
Yumeng Gao & Zhong Xie of China won bronze a year ago, but her triple Salchow in the free was downgraded and they risked only a double toe so that they slipped from third to fourth. All four North American teams made the top ten and the U.S. pairs Audrey Lu & Misha Mitrofanov and Sarah Feng & TJ Nyman got a third spot for next year. Germans Talisa Thomalla & Robert Kunkel turned in two solid performances to finish seventh. Their only mistake came when she fell on the double Axel in the free skating.
Skoptcova & Aleshin Dance Off With Gold
Russia‘s Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin and USA’s Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko had dominated the Junior Grand Prix and were expected to battle it out for gold and silver in Sofia. However, Ponomarenko messed up the twizzles in the short dance and the team found themselves only in sixth place. Skoptcova & Aleshin were clearly ahead and almost impossible to overtake unless they would have made a big error as well. But the Russians turned in two technically strong and also well presented programs, in their Latin short dance as well as in their Tango free dance. They took the title with a little over seven points to spare. The students of Svetlana Alexeeva and Elena Kustarova will age out of juniors next season. “Our performance today I rate nine on a scale of ten. I could have done better in some places, but I am sure that Nastia did everything she could have done. Obviously, we’re very happy about the victory. This victory means motivation for us to continue to work at the senior level,” Aleshin said. “We’ve worked a long time for this moment and we tried to end our junior career on a high note at this Junior Worlds,” his partner commented. “Now we’ll work hard. We’ll meet new couples at the senior level that we haven’t competed yet against. The transition is tough, we’ll start from scratch. But we’re prepared for that. It was to be expected, we can’t remain in juniors forever.”
Carreira & Ponomarenko performed very well to „W.E.“ in the free dance. Their combination spin was rated a level two, but they moved up four spots to claim the silver. “We were pretty disappointed after the short dance. We wanted to come here and deliver two strong performances and that’s not what happened but we came back strong I think. Today we still had a few technical mistakes, but overall it was much better,” Carreira offered. “After the short dance, after the mistake of course, she (his mother, 1992 Olympic Ice Dance Champion Marina Klimova) was like ‘Anthony, it’s okay, I still love you’. Actually, she really motivated me, she told me ‘you’ve been a fighter since the beginning, so just give all in the free dance”, Ponomarenko shared.
The American team has not yet decided whether they stay junior or not. The bronze went to the young and dynamic Russian couple Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov that train under Alexei Gorshkov. “We are very happy to have won this medal. At the beginning of the season I said in an interview that we have big plans for this year and we realized them”, Ushakova told the press.
Canadians Majorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha came second with a good short dance. In the free dance it was enough that the step sequence merited only a level two to drop to fourth. The competition in ice dance is so close that one level can make a difference. Muscovites Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko came fifth. Caroline Green & Gordon Green and Chloe Lewis & Logan Bye finished sixth and seventh with solid performances.