Golden Skate

Nagasu leads ladies at Junior Worlds

USA's Mirai Nagasu, 14, performs a layback spin in her routine to I Got Rhythm by George Gershwin.

The U.S. ladies dominated the Short Program, with Mirai Nagasu taking the lead, followed by teammates Caroline Zhang and Rachael Flatt.

Nagasu sparkled in her playful routine to I Got Rhythm by George Gershwin, which featured a superb layback spin. The current World Junior silver medalist landed a triple loop and double Axel, but was penalized on her triple Lutz-triple toeloop for using the wrong take-off edge on the Lutz.

Nevertheless, the U.S. champion placed first with a personal best of 65.07 (39.81/25.26) points.

“I was really nervous coming into this competition because it’s such a big competition,” the 14-year-old later confessed. When I got on the ice, I put all my fears behind me and I attacked out there, so I’m really happy with my performance.”

Nagasu received a lot of hype after winning the U.S. Nationals in her senior debut there. When she was asked how it felt to compete as Junior at this event, she replied: ” I’ve been training all year as a Junior, so going back to my Junior program was pretty easy. Just like last year at Junior Nationals, the win was unexpected, but a pleasant unexpected surprise so I really enjoyed it. Coming here, I got new skates and I’ve had a knee injury, but I put all that aside and will just focus on tomorrow’s long program.”

“I’ve had a lot of trouble with the flying sit spin at the beginning of the year,” Nagasu continued, “and I was getting level 1s on it. It was kind of fun to work on it for each competition, and finally at our Nationals and here I got my level 4. So I’m really pleased with that. Actually, since the flying sit spin is a point-getter, I might keep it for next year since I’ve gotten it now.”

Teammate Zhang exuded confidence along with a great Spanish attitude in her routine to Spanish Gypsy by Ray De Tone. The defending champion landed a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, a triple loop and a double Axel.

Zhang also displayed an outstanding layback spin and spiral sequence, placing second with a new personal best of 62.60 (38.50/24.10) points.

“I think it was a pretty good performance,” noted the 14-year-old. “I had a pretty shaky warm-up and before my program, I thought ‘Oh my God’. But I think it was a pretty good effort [except] for my flying sit ’cause I just started working on it after Nationals. It could have been a lot better. I think could have done a lot better but it was ok.”

Flatt produced a playful, yet mature routine to Gershwin’s It Ain’t Necessarily So, which featured a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a triple loop, and a double Axel. The U.S. silver medalist earned positive Grades of Execution (GOE) on nearly all elements, and is in a close third with a personal best of 60.16 (35.94/24.22) points.

“I’m very pleased with how I skated today,” said the 15-year-old. “I had a couple of bobbles going into my spiral and into my footwork which is almost a little embarrassing. I still had a lot of fun and I’m happy with how I skated.”

Yuki Nishino of Japan showed good speed and flowing edges in her routine to Leyenda by Vanessa Mae. The 1007-08 JPG Final bronze medalist landed a triple Lutz-double toeloop, a triple loop, and a double Axel. She is currently fourth with 54.15 (32.23/21.92) points.

Elena Glebova of Estonia scored 53.05 (30.76/22.29) points for her confident routine to Concerto de Aranjuez by J. Rodrigo. The 2006 Olympian landed a triple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, a triple loop, and a double Axel.

Glebova, who is making her fifth appearance at this event, is still recovering from a knee injury.

“I didn’t skate for six weeks because of my injury,” explained the 17-year-old, “and I had only five weeks to prepare for this competition. I’m really glad and proud of myself that I skated so well with a clean program. I want to say that on practices the last few weeks I didn’t skate so well and I’m really glad that I did it at the right time in the competition.”

Finland’s Jenni Vähämaa is currently sixth with a new personal best of 50.30 (27.02/23.28) points. The 2007-08 JPG finalist produced a serene routine to O Mio Babbino Caro from “Gianni Schicchi” by G. Puccini, but two-footed the landing of a triple flip and turned out the landing of her double Axel.

Alena Leonova of Russia is in seventh with 49.76 (30.48/19.28) points. The 2007 Coupe de Nice champion landed a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, a triple loop, and a double Axel.

Sweden’s Joshi Helgesson is in a close eighth with 49.10 (29.67/19.43) points, followed by Sonia Lafuente of Spain (46.36 points).

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