Golden Skate

2004 World Junior Figure Skating Championships: Ice Dance Highlights

Elena Romanovskaya and Alexander Grachev of Russia dominated the Ice Dance event, winning the gold at their fourth consecutive trip to the World Junior Championships. Nora Hoffmann and Attila Elek of Hungary, who are competing for the sixth time at this event, won the silver while USA’s Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin won the bronze.

Compulsory Dance

While the senior level conducts only one Compulsory Dance (CD), the Junior Worlds have two. The Compulsory Dances drawn for the Junior World Championships were the Quickstep and the Paso Doble. Both the Quickstep and the Paso Doble were invented by Daphne B. Wallis and Reginald J. Wilkie, and they both were performed for the first time in 1938 at the Westminster Ice Rink in London, Great Britain.

The 28 teams entering the event were divided into two qualifying Compulsory Dance groups.

Group B drew to first to skate. Romanovskaya and Grachev came in first in this group, winning both dances. The two-time World Junior bronze medalists skated close together. Their Quickstep was fast and they looked sharp in the Paso Doble. The team received marks from 4.7 to 5.4 for the Quickstep and 4.8 to 5.3 for the Paso Doble 4.8 to 5.3.

“It wasn’t super or great,” Romanovskaya said, “it was like in practice. I think it could have been better.”

Tied in second place were Israel’s Alexandra Zaretski and Roman Zaretski and Anna Cappellini and Matteo Zanni of Italy. The Israeli team placed second and third in the Quickstep and Paso Doble respectively, while the Italians placed second in the Paso Doble and third in the Quickstep.

The brother-and-sister team from Israel put out two solid dances, earning marks from 4.2 to 5.3 for the Quickstep and 4.2 to 5.0 for the Paso Doble.

“We were a bit afraid of the Quickstep as we didn’t skate it so much this season,” admitted Roman Zaretski. “But we skated it well. We were also very pleased with our Paso Doble, and we were surprised to be in third place.”

Cappellini and Zanni performed a good Quickstep, but they had a wobble in the Paso Doble. The team scored marks from 4.0 to 5.2 in the Paso Doble and 4.5 to 5.2 for the Quickstep.

“We did the Quickstep very well and we were already happy with our position in this first dance,” Zanni commented. “The Paso Doble is our best dance, and so we expected to do well there. However, we had a little problem [as] our blades clashed together,” he explained.

Petra Pachlova and Petr Knoth of the Czech Republic finished fourth overall after the CDs, followed by Canada’s Lauren Senft and Leif Gislason.

Hoffmann and Elek dominated Group A, producing two very strong performances. They showed off their deep edges and good knee action in the Quickstep, while they were precise and aggressive in the Paso Doble. The Junior Grand Prix Champions earned marks from 5.0 to 5.4 for their Quickstep and 4.9 to 5.3 for the Paso Doble.

“It was difficult as our training this morning was in the practice rink and the ice quality is different,” Hoffmann said. “We drew the most unfortunate starting number, 11 (for the first dance),” she continued, “which meant that we didn’t have much time in between the dances.”

Tied in second place were Russia’s Natalia Mikhailova and Arkadi Sergeev and Matthews and Zavozin.

Mikhailova and Sergeev placed second in the Quickstep and third in the Paso Doble. Their Quickstep looked a bit rushed, and they had a little stumble in the Paso Doble, but they showed good speed in both dances. Their marks ranged from 4.6 to 5.3 for the Quickstep and 4.6 to 5.1 for their Paso Doble.

“The Compulsories aren’t our strong point,” Sergeev admitted. “At the beginning of the competition, we’re always nervous. Our Compulsories are better in practice than in competition.”

Matthews and Zavozin could have had better unison in the Quickstep, but their Paso Doble was very confident and fast. Their marks ranged from 4.7 to 5.3 for both the Paso Doble and the Quickstep.

“The Paso is exciting,” Matthews told the press. “It’s probably one of our favorite dances. For Compulsories, we enjoy the Latin dances the most. We like things where we can be very powerful, and the Paso is a powerful dance. We just went for it [and] didn’t hold anything back.”

Anna Zadorozhiuk and Sergei Verbilo of the Ukraine placed fourth overall in the group after the CDs, followed by Russia’s Ekaterina Rubleva and Ivan Shefer.

Original Dance

The ice dance event continued with the Original Dance (OD). The theme this season is the “Swing Combo”, whereby couples can choose any two or three of the following rhythms: Blues, Jive, Rock’n’Roll, Jitterbug, Boogie Woogie and/or Swing. The OD was worth 30 percent of the overall score.

Romanovskaya and Grachev’s performed to a sensual Blues and energetic Rock’n’Roll routine, featuring a nice hydro blade move, a diagonal step sequence, an energetic side-by-side footwork sequence, and dance spin to earn marks from 5.1 to 5.8, placing them first in the OD and overall.

“It went well, and we did everything we can do,” Romanovskaya said. “I think
nobody is going to say that we pla ced first with a bad performance.” Grachev, who is already focused on the Free Dance, added, “I don’t think about today’s placement. “We still have to do the Free Dance tomorrow. We have to focus on the Free Dance in order to skate it well. Today, we were quite confident.”

Hoffmann and Elek exhibited good twizzles and a nice dance combination spin in their Rock’n’Roll and Blues routine, earning marks from 5.1 to 5.7 to place second in the OD and overall.

“I think we did a good OD today,” said Elek. “Maybe the judges think that they (Romanovskaya and Grachev) have more speed because they don’t do the same deep edges [as ours],” Hoffmann added. “But it’s far from over. We’re going to fight for the first place tomorrow. We did our best in the OD and hopefully we’ll do our best tomorrow [in the Free Dance].”

Matthews and Zavozin danced to Rock’n’Roll, Blues and Jitterbug, exhibiting a good rotational lift with a change of direction as well as a dance spin with change of position. Their twizzles, however, at the end of the side-by-side footwork line were a bit out of unison. The 2004 Junior Grand Prix bronze medalists received marks up to 4.7 to 5.6 to place third in the OD and overall.

“We felt very good about our OD,” said Matthews, who was very pleased with their performance and the result. “From beginning to end, we didn’t lose energy.” Referring to the twizzles, Zavozin explained, “I just came a little close, but it wasn’t a big deal.”

Natalia Mikhailova and Arkadi Sergeev of Russia were fourth after the OD, followed by Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Matteo Zanni.

Free Dance

Performing to Piazolla’s Libertango, Romanovskaya and Grachev maintained good speed throughout the expressive program. The two-time and reigning World Junior bronze medalists displayed fast footwork and interesting lifts, scoring marks from 5.2 to 5.8 for a first place finish in the FD and overall.

The team from Moscow didn’t feel it was their best performance.

“But we’re very happy with it and the coaches are also satisfied,” said Romanovskaya. “We skated first in the warm up group, so we just did what we can do and left. When we knew that we had won, it was just a great feeling. I’ll never forget this moment.”

Hoffmann and Elek, produced a strong performance to the selections from the Dance with Me soundtrack, displaying dynamic footwork and twizzles in both directions. The 2004 Junior Grand Prix champions were awarded marks from 5.1 to 5.8, but lost on a six to three split decision on the panel of judges against the Russians to place second in the FD and overall.

Though the Hungarian team was disappointed that they didn’t win, they were pleased with their performance.

“It probably was the best of the season,” said Hoffmann. “We skated really well.”

The team plans to compete at Worlds in Dortumund later this month.

“Maybe we won’t practice tomorrow, but we’ll leave directly after the Exhibition on Sunday and then we’ll start working again on Monday,” Hoffmann said.

Matthews and Zavozin danced to Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, skating with confidence and excellent unison. The 2004 US Junior champions scored marks from 5.1 to 5.6 to place third in the FD and overall.

“It definitely was one of our best,” said Matthews. “We had a lot of good performances with this Free Dance this year. We’re of course very excited to get the bronze medal. That was a big thing for us.”

Mikhailova and Sergeev (RUS) maintained their position as did Cappellini and Zanni (ITA), finishing in fourth and fifth place respectively.

Romanovskaya and Grachev and Hoffmann and Elek plan to move on to the senior ranks next season while Matthews and Zavozin intend to stay in juniors.