2003 World Junior Figure Skating Championships: Ice Dance Highlights

The dance competition at the 2003 Junior World Championships ended with the top three teams in the same order as at the Junior Grand Prix Final with Russia’s Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin taking the gold, followed by Hungary’s Nora Hoffmann and Attila Elek and Russia’s Elena Romanovskaya and Sergei Grachev. Both of the top teams had competed in seniors at the European Championships a few weeks earlier, placing 12th and 14th respectively. “We didn’t find much difference between the juniors and seniors,” Shabalin said. Elek noted, “the biggest difference was that there were more people so that made it more interesting,” while his partner stated that it “was a lot easier to do three minutes than four.”

Shabalin finished second at last season’s Junior Worlds, but split from his former partner, Elena Khaliavina, because she developed an eating disorder. Alexei Gorshkov then teamed Shabalin with Domnina, who had finished seventh with Maxim Bolotin. The couple won both compulsories in their group, the original dance, and the free. “That was the best original dance of the season,” said Shabalin. “A lot of couples use Strauss, so we wanted to be different and use Shostakovich.” Their free dance, skated to an Afro-Latin music mixture, had no particular theme. While it had a lot of energy, the constant arm waving was distracting.

Hoffmann and Elek finally attained the podium on their fifth attempt at Junior Worlds, after finishing fifth last season. Their dances have been strong all season and winning the Hungarian senior championship gave them added confidence. They finished second in each phase of the competition with solid compulsories and an erotic Middle Eastern free dance to “Lovely Sunset” in which Hoffmann shows off her sinuosity. “We had never used this kind of music and I wanted to try it,” Hoffmann stated. “Next year we will probably skate the senior Grand Prix but we want to come back to Junior Worlds and get one place higher.” Elek added, “We had the best performance we could do here.”

Romanovskaya and Grachov, who were also last year’s bronze medal winners, finished second in their compulsory dances behind USA’s Loren Galler-Rabinowitz and David Mitchell, but pulled up to third in the original and free dances. Their free dance was to “Holding Out for a Hero” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. “We had chosen another piece of music for our free dance,” Karbovskaya said, “but it wasn’t right so we changed it earlier in the season.”

The surprise team in the event was definitely that of Galler-Rabinowitz and Mitchell, the fourth-place senior team at U.S. Nationals who had finished 12th at the 2002 Junior Worlds in Hamar. The couple shocked everyone by winning both compulsory dances, the Westminster Waltz and the Blues, in their qualifying group. “That was the best we ever skated the compulsories,” Mitchell stated. And they were nearly flawless. But they were fourth in both the Grand Ball original dance and the free dance. The couple’s free dance to “The Mummy” soundtrack was highly praised for both its choreography and the quality of the lifts and carries, but a bobble on side-by-side twizzles hurt their scores.

There was considerable movement among the other teams, both from last year’s Junior Worlds standings and from the final Junior Grand Prix results. The three newcomers from North America all exceeded expectations. Canada’s Melissa Piperno and Liam Dougherty, the newly crowned Canadian junior dance champions, finished ninth to gain an additional spot for Canada next season. And the USA’s top two junior dance finishers at Nationals, Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin and Kirsten Frisch and Brent Bommentre, finished in 11th and 12th, superb results for teams which had never competed at Junior Worlds or the JGP Final.

Both teams finished sixth in their qualifying compulsory dances and both had intriguing free dances. Matthews and Zavozin looked very Russian in their “Phantom of the Opera on Ice” free dance. Frisch and Bommentre showed a nice bluesy program to “Sous le Soleil”, “Epoca”, and “Club le Narcisse”. The dance included an unusual dance spin in a shoot the duck position.

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