Monday, March 03, 2008

2008 Junior World Championships

The world's best junior (and in the case of the U.S., some of our best senior) skaters converged on Sofia, Bulgaria for the 2008 Junior World Championships. This event always gives a glimpse into some of the sports future champions and these young champions didn't dissapoint.

In the pairs competition, a couple of young Russian teams topped the leader board. Krasilnikova and Bezmaternikh (mouth full, huh?) won the gold. This is a team we actually saw finish fifth on the Senior Grand Prix circuit at Cup of Russia and competed in their first Senior Russian National Chmapionship this season placing 5th. Winning the silver (but actually winning the free skate) was another Russian Team, Iliushechkina and Maisuradze (whew!). They received strong GOE points on their throw triple loop but couldn't overcome the lead their teammates had acquired after the short program. The intersesting story about these two is that they were both originally single skaters and have been skating together for less than a year. In less than a year they've finished fourth in their first nationals together as a team (and as seniors) and won the silver at Junior Worlds...impressive! The bronze medal went to the Chinese team of Dong and Wu...China of course never short on pairs talent. The Americans finished fifth, tenth, and eleventh, Junior National Champs Paetsch and Nuss highest among them.

The men's event was won by American Junior National Champion Adam Rippon. Since teaming up with Nikolai Morzov Adam has become a force to be contended with. Smooth lines and excellent GOE scores led him to a well deserved win in Sofia. Russian Artem Borodulin won the silver medal. Amazing considering less than three months ago he had a broken ankle. Jinlin Guan of China won the bronze. Jinlin had the highest technical score amongst the medalists, landing lots of clean triples, but his component score suffered due to his lack of artistry and connective elements. Brandon Mroz of the U.S. finished fourth while Tommy Steenberg also of the U.S. finished ninth. Kevin Reynolds of Canada was the only competitor in the field to land a quad, he finished sixth.

In Ice Dance the American team of Samuelson and Bates were finally able to come out and the skate they wanted. At last years Junior Worlds they had to withdraw because they fell and he stepped on her finger, severing a tendon and requiring surgery. At this years nationals the team was hampered by the fact that Emily had the flu virus and was getting IV's to stay hydrated. They finished 4th at that competition (as seniors) despite missing half the practices. But finally they were healthy and well trained and able to push through and win the Junior World title. They held off the Canadian team of Crone and Poirier who were right on Emily and Evan's heels the whole competition. Both teams had excellent GOE and component scores. The bronze went to the Russian team of Gorshkova and Butikov. The Hubbells (U.S. brother and sister team
) finished a strong fifth place.

The ladies event gave us a glimpse into the future for sure. To be blunt, this very well could be one of the most talented field of ladies the U.S. has ever sent to a competion. The last time I can think of a field being this deep for the U.S. was the 2003 World Championships in Washington, D.C. when we sent Kwan, Cohen, and Hughes. It isn't a shock that our ladies swept the podium in Sofia, considering we sent our Senior Gold and Silver medalists as well as the reigning Junior World Champ! In a very close competition between Flatt and Zhang, Rachael Flatt squeaked by to win the event. The only flaw in her program was a wrong edge deduction on her second lutz. Everything else was clean as a whistle and she garnered the highest technical and component score! Caroline Zhang too had a great skate and was actually ahead of Flatt after the short (2nd place vs 3rd) but had some trouble with wrong edges on both her lutzes and couldn't keep up technically. Again, minor errors and still a brillant performance...she was less than .40 behind Flatt. Mirai Nagasu, our reigning Senior Ladies Champ and leader after the short program, struggled a bit with the harder jumps. She had a few underrotation calls and she also struggled with the wrong edge deduction. The technical issues put her back about ten points to Flatt and Zhang and she was only able to capture the bronze, but amongst that field, respectable!

Now our focus turns to Goteborg, Sweden in hopes that the U.S. (or whichever country or competitors!) can do as well there as it did in Sofia. Full results can be seen here.


Anonymous said...

i'm glad they called Mirai's wrong edges at jr worlds. She should not have won the US Nationals this year. They called Caroline's wrong edges and gave a pass to Mirai. Now the truth came out. Mirai is not nearly as good as Caroline and the world judges called her out. Good for Flatt for taking off mostly on the correct edges. This bolds very well for her future. Luckily for both Caroline and Mirai that they are both still young and edge correction should not be nearly as hard as someone like Mao who's been taking off on wrong edges longer.

Aaron said...

I think this wrong edge deduction conversation is really frustrating so many of the competitors and I really applaud those that are really tackling the issue. I just love that Joannie Rochette, among others, took the time to go back and fix those problems and now its paying dividends!