Golden Skate

Sui and Han win Junior Pairs title at Grand Prix Final

China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han defended their overnight lead to win the title after placing first in long program with their routine to City Lights. The newcomers from Harbin delivered a good double Axel-double Axel sequence, as well as  an excellent throw triple Salchow and triple twist. They also produced solid spins and lifts, earning 103.65 points for the long program and 160.45 points overall.

“We are deeply moved,” said Han. “It is our first time in the Final, and we wouldn’t have dreamed about achieving such a good result and promise to give our best in the future as well. From our point of view, the performance today was okay, but we could have performed better.”

Japan’s Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran placed second with 91.36 points with their Madame Butterfly routine, and maintained second place overall with 145.80 points. The Japanese Champions struggled with their side-by-side jumps, flying camel spins (with change of foot), and throw triple Salchow, but delivered difficult lifts and a solid throw triple toe.

“It wasn’t our best,” noted Takahashi, “but I was confident that we’d make it through the program. We don’t complain about our result. We didn’t do our best, but our competitors did. When you don’t do your best, the result doesn’t come. We’ll compete at senior nationals in two weeks and we want to train harder and give an outstanding performance for the crowd.”

Yue Zhang and Lei Wang of China rose from fifth to third place overall (137.19 points) after placing third (91.15 points) in the long program with their routine to Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Their routine featured a solid triple twist and throw triple loop.

“I did not do well in the program,” admitted Zhang. “The reason why we changed the program (double Axels to double flips) is because my Axel wasn’t good yesterday. We wanted to perform well today. I would like to perform well in Junior Worlds and hope we can do our best skate there.”

“It was alright overall,” added Wang, “but the flow and synchronization wasn’t good – especially at the last part of the program. I will find what I need to improve from this competition. We’d like to do our best skate in Junior Worlds and try our best there.”

Russia’s Tatiana Novik and  Mikhail Kuznetsov also rose two spots, placing fourth overall (134.33 points) after placing fourth in the long program (88.61 points). Their routine to music from the Cadillac soundtrack featured a strong pairs combination spin and throw triple Salchow.

“We’re not too happy,” said Kuznetsov. “We didn’t do the first jump (his partner singled the triple loop). We counted a lot on that element. My partner was a bit nervous at the beginning of the program. After that we were able to skate well.”

“It’s a big advantage to compete in the same event as the senior pairs and we can learn from them,” said Novik of her experience in Tokyo.

Kaleigh Hole and  Adam Johnson of Canada slipped from third to fifth overall (132.17 points), while USA’s Britney Simpson and Nathan Miller rose up one spot to sixth (128.62 points).

Hole was happy that she landed the triple throw Salchow that she missed in the short program. “It was great skating here in front of a big audience,” said Johnson, her partner. “It was a good build-up for Canadian Nationals where we’ll skate in Seniors.”

Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia slipped from third to seventh overall, while teammates Alexandra Vasilieva and Yuri Shevchuk placed eighth.

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