McLaughlin and Brubaker take lead at Junior Worlds

USA's Keauna McLaughlin (14) and Rockne Brubaker (20) perform to music from the soundtrack Somewhere in Time.

The 2007 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships continued Tuesday with the Pairs’ Short Program after the ice dancers completed the Compulsory Dance.

USA’s Keauna McLaughlin (14) and Rockne Brubaker (20) skated to music from the Somewhere in Time soundtrack, setting a soft romantic mood which carried throughout the program. Aside from a step-out on the throw triple Salchow, all of their elements were well executed, which included a huge lateral double twist and very good side-by-side double Axels.

The 2007 US Junior Champions, who placed first with a new personal best score of 57.00, received a level four on their hand-to-hand one-armed loop lift with changes of holds, spiral sequence, and pairs spin. The only negative Grade of Execution (GOE) score was on the throw jump and the side-by-side spins in which Brubaker performed one more revolution than his partner.

Despite the mistake on the throw triple Salchow, Brubaker felt that it was their best performance of the year.

“Everything felt really good and comfortable,” said Brubaker at a post-event news conference.”

McLaughlin agreed. “I’m definitely very happy about it. Aside from the throw [jump], I felt really strong.”

Brubaker used to compete with Mariel Miller, but after their partnership ended, he teamed up with McLaughlin last spring.

“It’s been my first international season,” relayed McLaughlin. “It’s been really exciting. I just kind of feed off of what he (Brubaker) is feeling, because he has already been through all this. It helps. It’s really comfortable.”

“When you find the right partner, everything comes together a lot easier,” added Brubaker. “We train very hard, spending a lot of time working on little details. I think what [also] helps is that we have a really good relationship off the ice. We’re really close and we get along great.”

Russia’s Vera Bazarova (14) and Yuri Larionov (20) skated a smooth romantic program to Love Story. Their floating double twist with a pendulum entrance started the program and Bazarova exhibited a unique catch-foot position during their level 4 hand-to-hand loop lift, as well as a unique exit. A flying camel started their side-by-side spins which were also graded a level 4. The only flaw in the program was a shaky landing by Bazarova on the side-by-side double Axels.

The team placed second with a new personal best of 55.06 points.

“There were just little errors and we hope to skate even better tomorrow,” said Bazarova, who was happy about the new personal best score. “We were very nervous. After all, we’re competing at our first Junior Worlds.”

“We can do better,” added Larionov. “Compared to the American couple (McLaughlin and Brubaker), our skating skills and technique are not as strong, and our double Axel wasn’t so good. Coming here our goal is to be in the top six. The competition is tough with strong couples from the USA and China.”

Teammates Ksenia Krasilnikova (15) and Konstantin Bezmaternikh (18) also did well, placing third with a new personal best of 53.01 points in their routine to The Circus Princess by Emmerich Kalman.

The highlight of their program was their hand-to-hand loop lift in which Bezmaternikh rotates first in one direction and then the other. In addition to the lift, their death spiral and pair combination spin were graded a level 4 with + GOE scores. Their level 2 spiral sequence also showed very good speed and positions. The only major mistake came when Krasilnikova stepped out of a throw triple Salchow.

“It was OK, but we made some little mistakes on the throw and on the entry of the lift,” commented Krasilnikova.

“Unfortunately, Ksenia has fallen sick here,” added her partner Bezmaternikh. “Yesterday she had a fever. Considering these circumstances, it was good.”

USA’s Bridget Namiotka (17) and John Coughlin (21) opened their program to Time to Say Goodbye with lovely choreography into a level 3 pair spin that had seamless transitions, followed by a high and floating double twist. The 2006 JGP Liberec bronze medalists received + GOE on the lift which was the only element graded a level 4. The performance level was high, and the team was awarded a new personal best of 50.76 points, placing fourth.

It was evident that the Americans were happy with their performance. “I was so excited,” said Namiotka, “it feels great out there!”

The team changed programs from their original short to Gershwin’s Summertime.

“In the summer I had a stress fracture on my back and John got injured,” explained Namiotka. “We just didn’t have enough time to work out a different program.”

“We are really excited to be here after the year we had,” added Coughlin. “We had a bad injury right before we were supposed to compete at NHK trophy, so we withdrew from it. I skated in a brace during the Junior Grand Prix Final. So we got a kind of a wild-card to make it here and we are having fun.”

Wearing striking black and silver costumes in their skate to Piano Concerto in A minor by Grieg, teammates Kendra Moyle (16) and Andy Seitz (21) took command of the ice, exhibiting good speed and flow throughout. The current World Junior silver medalists opened with a straddle entrance into a wonderful lift which moved very fast and covered the full length of the ice. The team also produced a clean double twist, as well as a good spiral sequence and side-by-side double Axels, earning 50.71 points for a fifth place finish.

Moyle was skating on a sprained ankle.

“Yesterday, I was doing jumps off-ice,” she explained. “I did a double Axel and landed funny. I have it wrapped and I’m icing it constantly. It hurts most of the time. I’m just glad I got out there and finished everything.”

“She fought hard today,” added Seitz. “Considering what happened yesterday and that we missed practice, I couldn’t be happier with how we did today.”

Skating to Malaguena, Canada’s Amanda Velenosi (14) and Mark Fernandez (18) began with an innovative spiral sequence that was graded a level 4. Their lift, also a level 4, covered the full length of the ice with ease. Both their side-by-side spins and death spiral were also graded a level 4, and the 2007 Canadian Junior silver medalists placed sixth with a new personal best of 49.56.

Estonia’s Maria Sergejeva (14) and Ilja Glebov (19) currently stand in seventh, followed by Elizaveta Levshina and Konstantin Gavrin of Russia.

The event continues Wednesday with the Men’s Short Program and the Pairs’ Free Skate.

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