Zawadzki storms to junior title
Remember the name Agnes Zawadzki. The fifteen-year-old came into Spokane much like the devastating hurricane of 1972 with the same name that ravaged much of the east coast. Zawadzki decimated her competition, easily winning the U.S. Junior Ladies title by more than 20 points over silver medalist Yasmin Siraj.
“Crazy. Words can’t even explain how happy I am,” said the wide-eyed champion.
Even in her dominance Zawadzki was not perfect, doubling a triple lutz attempt near the beginning of her program, but she did nail five other triple jumps to score a new high score by a US Junior Ladies Champion of 171.87 points.
“The score gives me a lot of confidence,” Zawadzki shared after the program, and then joked. “I thought maybe I could be a junior man.”
Zawadzki skated a high-energy program to music from the soundtrack of Chicago, and had the audience eating out of her hands from start to finish. After realizing that she won the title, the high school sophomore was almost speechless, and was excited to share the win with her mom.
“I haven’t seen her yet,” Zawadzki said. “We’ve texted each other, and she just told me that she is so proud of me. She is probably all teary.”
Siraj moved up from fourth place after the short program to win the silver medal with an inspired performance to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Song of India. A born performer, the thirteen-year-old demonstrated an almost ethereal presence on the ice, drawing the audience into her program and taking them on the ride with her.
“I’m very excited,” said the overjoyed Siraj. “I’ve wanted to have this so much that I’ve even dreamed about it. It’s such a pleasure to have done it with a good skate.”
Siraj landed four triple jumps in her program as well as a double Axel-double Axel sequence, and earned a competition total of 151.05 points -a total that would have won the eighth grade the junior title last season.
The silver medalist is a full time student who practices skating on her lunch break and study hall, but she is also a competitive pianist who practices about ninety minutes each day.
“Not this past year, but the year before I was second in a competition in Massachusetts,” said the musician. “It’s called the MMTA (Massachusetts Music Teachers Association), and I was second in my division.”
Siraj is looking forward to perhaps representing the United States in the fall on the Junior Grand Prix circuit, a goal that she will be happy to see come to life.
“I want to compete internationally very badly,” Siraj said with a confident giggle. “I’ve never competed internationally before. It would be so amazing.”
Lindsay Davis, 17, moved up two spots after the short program to win the bronze medal with her entertaining Cirque de Soliel program. Davis only managed two clean triple jumps in her program, but used strong component scores to propel her onto the podium.
“I was a little nervous on my first jump, so I bobbled a little bit on it,” Davis admitted. “I thought that if I just pull in on everything else and go for it that I would have a better chance of landing them. So I just went for it after that.”
Davis finished with a total of 133.97 points in the competition, and was shocked and ecstatic to be standing on the podium at the end of the competition.
“My goal was just to come here and do the best that I could do,” said the former senior-level pairs skater. “I kind of let the chips fall where they may, and I’m very happy.”
Falling from second place after the short program to fourth overall, was Kiri Baga, the only skater in the competition to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final last month in Japan. The 14-year-old had a disastrous performance that included three falls and two downgraded jumps, and had to settle for ninth place in the freeskate. Her total score of 127.35 points was just enough to edge out twelve year-old Nina Jiang for the pewter medal.
Jiang catapulted from eleventh place in the short program to finish fifth overall. The 2009 Novice Ladies pewter medalist landed three triple jumps to finish in third place in the freeskate, but could not overcome the deficit from the short program to make the podium.
Junior Pairs Champion Felicia Zhang finished in sixth place, while 13- year-old Angela Wang finished in seventh.