Golden Skate

Shelepen leads Junior ladies at Grand Prix Final

Russia’s Polina Shelepen  took the lead in the Junior Ladies short program with an impressive performance to Adagio which featured a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a solid triple flip, and an excellent layback spin. The teen from Moscow picked up a personal best of 59.54 points.

“I am very pleased with my performance today,” said the 14-year-old. “I went for the triple-triple (Lutz-toe) combination for the first time in an international event. At some point you have to start doing it in competition, and a big event like this motivates me even more to do it.”

In second by a mere 0.02 points, is Japan’s  Kanako Murakami. The 15-year-old  turned in a smart Flamenco which was highlighted by a  triple toe-triple toe, triple flip, and excellent spins, but the double Axel was downgraded. She received 59.52 points.

“It was my best performance this season,” said Murakami. “I thought I could have been better in the triple toe-triple toe combination, but I’m happy I could land it. I’m a bit upset I got a downgrade on the double Axel. My program is a Flamenco which is not supposed to make you smile, but I couldn’t help laughing because I was very happy about my performance. I have more confidence in my free program, so I will try my best to have a clean program tomorrow.”

Ksenia Makarova of Russia rounded up the top three with a personal best of 55.38 points. Her routine to music from the Ladies in Lavender soundtrack featured a good  triple toe-triple toe combination, as well as strong spins and footwork.

“I’m very happy what I did today,” said Makarova. “This is the first time for me to compete at the Final, so I’m just enjoying  skating here. I’m not competing against anyone, just against myself to win. I’m in good condition, so I want to skate a clean program and hope I can do exactly the same as I do in practice.”

Teammate Anna Ovcharova is close behind with a new personal best of 54.92 points. Her program was highlighted by a very good spiral sequence, straight line footwork, and good spins.

“This was a good performance,” said Ovcharova, “although I wish I hadn’t done the three turn out of the triple Lutz.”

The teen is excited to be competing in her first Final. “I didn’t really expect it. I went to the JGP events for the first time, and I just hoped to skate well. I didn’t think that I would qualify for the Final.”

USA’s Christina Gao, Ellie Kawamura, Kiri Baga, and  Angela Maxwell currently sit in fifth through eighth place, respectively.

“It went really well,” said Gao, 15. “I’m really happy with how I did. It felt pretty good out there. My triple flip was pretty good.  I really like it in Japan and I’m really enjoying it. It is awesome to be in the Final. I don’t feel any pressure or anything – I’m just having fun!”

“I think I did the best I could and had a lot of fun,” said Kawamura, 16. “It’s exciting to be in the final and amazing and awesome that I get to skate with the seniors. Both my parents are from Japan and this is my second time here. It’s nice to skate in front of such a big crowd. They gave me a lot of support.”

Maxwell, 17, was disappointed about popping her triple flip. “I think it was the result of a little self doubt, but I tried to skate the rest of the program well. I enjoy being in the Final and skating with the seniors, because I look up to them all. I really like the music for my Free, and will try to skate well.”

Baga was happy with her skate. “I could have done better,” said the 14-year-old, “but it definitely could have been worse. I’m glad that I could come here and do a pretty decent short program for everyone. Overall, I’m very happy with how this year has gone. For the free program, I want to do a very good program and show everyone why I made the Final and improve upon my past performances.”

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