Americans, Russians lead in Milan
By Kitty Xie
So far, it’s been a successful World Junior Championships for the U.S. figure skaters.
In addition to a gold medal in pairs and a bronze in ice dancing, the Americans have had an auspicious start with the junior men — Joshua Farris, Shotaro Omori, and Jason Brown — who skated into first, second, and third, respectively, after the short program.
Meanwhile, the junior ladies’ discipline saw some of the fiercest competition between two of the biggest skating countries, the United States and Russia. One only has to look at the standings headed into the free skate to understand the embarrassment of talent at the event — the top five spots belong exclusively to the Americans and Russians. No Russian girl is further down than fifth; for the Americans, thirteenth.
Currently leading the field is Samantha Cesario (54.69 points), who finished eighth at U.S. Nationals in January and with a solid short program to Carmen barely edged ahead of Russia’s Anna Pogorilaya (53.98). In a rare occurrence under the specificity of the Code of Points, Pogorilaya tied with American Courtney Hicks (53.98) for second place, but by virtue of her higher technical score gained the lead.
Defending Junior World champion Julia Lipnitskaia (53.86), of Russia, made her first international appearance since the 2012 Trophee Eric Bompard last November. Lipnitskaia, who sustained a concussion that took her out of both the 2012 Grand Prix Final and the 2013 Russian Championships, placed fifth at the Russian Junior Championships but rallied to fourth after her short program on Friday.
Though she cited issues with growth in February, her somewhat cautious skate was strong enough to stay ahead of compatriot Elena Radionova (53.48), whose upward momentum this season was briefly stalled by a fall on a triple flip. Still, Radionova — a favorite for the junior ladies’ crown — is well within reach of the gold medal, trailing Samantha Cesario by little over a point.
After two jumping mistakes, the third American, Yasmin Siraj, is in thirteenth place. At Junior Worlds, the top 24 scores from the short program advance to the free skate, taking all three Americans to the next level.
The junior ladies’ free skate will be held at the Agora Ice Rink in Milano, Italy on Saturday, March 2nd at 5:30 PM local time.
Ice Dance podium: 1. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) – 150.17, 2. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) – 143.26, 3. Alexandra Aldridge/Damiel Eaton (USA) – 139.33.