2003 World Junior Figure Skating Championships: Ladies Highlights

For the second year in a row, Japan put two ladies on the podium at the 2003 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, but this year the medals were gold and silver instead of silver and bronze. All three Japanese ladies finished in the top five with Yukina Ota taking the gold, 2002 bronze medalist Miki Ando moving up to second and, and newcomer Mia Asada finishing fourth. Only Italy’s Carolina Kostner, who was fourth at the Europeans Championships and third in Ostrava stood in the way of a Japanese sweep.

Ota won her qualifying group in a close battle with the USA’s Ye Bin Mok. Using the “Violin Fantasie” from Puccini’s “Turandot”, she landed a triple lutz/double toe, a triple toe/double toe and four more triples to go with a superb layback spin and crisp elements. Mok landed a triple lutz/double toe and a triple flip/double toe plus another triple flip and a triple salchow in her “Spartacus” program, but she missed her double Axel and triple lutz. Third went to the USA’s Beatrisa Liang, who finished fourth last year. Liang, who was suffering from a hip injury, landed a triple flip/double toe, three other triples and a double Axel but missed both triple lutz attempts. Canada’s Signe Ronke finished fourth, followed by Russia’s 2001 Junior Worlds champion, Kristina Oblasova.

The other qualifying group was won by Kostner, who landed a triple lutz/triple toe and a triple flip/triple toe, plus a triple salchow and double Axel skating to a medley that included “Papa, Can You Hear Me”, “Schindler’s List”, and “Far and Away”. Asada was second after completing a triple lutz/triple toe and four more triples, but she just missed her triple Axel attempt and fell on the triple loop. The choreography in her balletic program to “Rondo Adagio Espressivo” was exceptional and her layback positions gorgeous. Ando finished third, just missing a quad salchow when she fell while turning after the landing in her “La Bayadere” program. She completing a triple toe/double toe and a triple loop from a spiral, but she missed both triple lutz attempts and a triple salchow. Superior spins and footwork kept her ahead. Sweden’s Lina Johansson and tiny Binshu Xu of China were fourth and fifth with USA’s Louann Donovan in sixth.

Kostner took the short, skating to Pachebel’s “Canon”, with a clean program that included a triple loop/double loop, a triple lutz from footwork and a double Axel. Ota took second using a triple flip/double toe combination in her “Danse Macabre” program, while Ando was third, also using a triple flip/double toe, but she had a step out on her double Axel in her program to a Spanish guitar medley. Oblasova, with the same jumps plus a Biellmann spin in her “Piano Rhapsodie” program was fourth followed by Mok, who landed a triple lutz/double toe using “The Swan” from “Carnival of the Animals”, but had only a double lutz from footwork. Asada, who fell on the triple lutz, dropped to seventh, while Liang fell on the triple lutz and put her hand down on the triple flip in her combination, dropping to tenth.

Japan swept the long. Ota won with a repeat of her qualifying performance, which included an Ina Bauer to a spread-eagle to spirals and fast centered spins to go with the jumps. Ando barely landed a quad salchow and included five more clean triples, a double Axel, and a Biellmann spin to finish second. Asada was third, completing a triple Axel/double toe, a triple lutz/double toe, and four more triples. Ota was ecstatic with her win. “Last year, the other two girls skated in the exhibition and I didn’t,” she said. “That made me work harder this season because I really wanted to do the exhibition.” Both Ota and Ando stated that they had worked to improve their presentation since last year. “There are many skaters in Japan with dreams of the Olympics,” Ando added. “It makes a good rivalry.”

Liang finished fourth in the free, using Tchaikovski’s “Violin Concerto in D Minor”. She landed six triples including a triple lutz/double toe, but she fell on the second jump in her triple lutz/triple loop combination and did not attempt a double Axel. She pulled up to sixth. Kostner was fifth, landing only the triple flip/triple toe of her usual three combinations, falling hard on a triple lutz and later on a triple salchow, but it was enough to keep the bronze. Although she said she was only tired and denied being ill, Kostner was obviously not herself and withdrew from the exhibition the next day. “It wasn’t my best, but I’m happy to get third,” Kostner said. “I was very tired after the first minute and very happy to get into my ending pose. We are not machines, you know.” Mok delivered another beautiful free skate for sixth. She completed a triple lutz/double toe, a triple toe/double toe and a Charlotte spiral to a double Axel. However, she two footed another triple lutz and a triple loop and fell on a triple flip.

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