Lipnitskaia wins Junior Grand Prix ladies title by a landslide

Julia Lipnitskaia

In her Junior Grand Prix debut, Russia's Julia Lipnitskaia won the gold with more than 17 points to spare.

The 2011-12 ISU Grand Prix Final and Junior Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating continued with the Junior Ladies Long Program.

Julia Lipnitskaia spearheaded a Russian podium sweep with teammates Polina Shelepen and Polina Korobeynikova claiming the silver and bronze medals, respectively. It was only the second podium sweep in Junior Ladies in the history of the Junior Final since 2006 when the U.S. ladies dominated the podium.

Lipnitskaia once again impressed with her consistent jumps, beautiful spins, and musicality in her program to the romantic Romeo and Juliet soundtrack by Nino Rota. Her precision of movement and her flexibility really stand out, and the audience gave her a standing ovation at the end of the “seven triple jump” program. The young skater from Ekaterinburg (who meanwhile has moved to Moscow) slightly improved her season’s best with a score of 119.75 points and totaled 179.73 points.

“I really enjoyed skating today,” said the 13-year-old. “I was in a very good mood when I stepped on to the ice and I felt joy. I was oozing joy while skating and I never had experienced that before.”

“I am so happy for the two Polinas (Shelepen and Korobeinikova) and for myself,” Lipnitskaia added. “It is just great that we Russian girls swept the podium. You always have to go for the victory, but the competition is strong and I could have missed something.”

Shelepen had to fight a little more in her program to Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto as she fell on the triple Salchow-double toe combination. However, she hit her triple Lutz-triple toe combination, as well as four more triples.

The 16-year-old has grown tall and has learned to use her height to her advantage, looking more elegant and refined than in previous years. She earned a season’s best with 107.35 points, and remained in second place at 162.34 points.

“It is not the first time that I fell on this combination,” noted the Russian junior silver medalist. “It’s like a mental block. I will need to work on this more in practice. As for my skate, not everything worked out and there are things left to work on, but I am very happy with my result today.”

“It is great that all three of us are on the podium,” added Shelepen.

Korobeynikova stood in fifth place following the short program, but rallied back with a strong program to Otonal. She has now added a triple flip-triple toe to her repertoire, and landed it alongside four other clean triples. The only glitch was a step out on the triple loop. Korobeynikova, a student of Viktoria Volchkova, is another one of the taller Russian girls with beautiful long lines. The Muscovite picked up a new season’s best with 105.94 points and jumped on to the podium with 151.18 points overall.

“I skated well,” acknowledged the 15-year-old. “I was happy about the triple-triple. I did everything I was hoping for except for the little error on the loop. I will keep working on my consistency.”

“I didn’t want to think about the placement,” added Korobeynikova, “but I wanted to do my elements and skate beautifully. I am very happy that the three of us are on the podium. This is a big step for the country.”

Zijun Li stood in last place following the short program, but rallied in the free to pull up to fourth. The Chinese champion went for a triple flip-triple toe combination, but the flip was underrotated. She produced a double Axel-triple toe-double toe and four other triples, but the Lutz had an edge call. Li scored 103.43 points and accumulated 146.53 points overall.

“This was the best I’ve skated,” said the 14-year-old. “Yesterday, I tried my triple-triple and missed it. I think that affected my performance a lot. Today, I didn’t feel any pressure. I was in last place. My goal here was to do the triple-triple combination and I didn’t care so much about the result.”

USA’s Vanessa Lam fell on both Lutzes and the triple loop to drop from third to fifth with 145.62 points.

“I was over-cautious going into the Lutz,” the 16-year-old explained, “but then I redeemed my footing for the next few elements. But my timing was off again for the loop and I didn’t regain my footing after that. The performance was worse than my short program. Training has a lot to do with improving my performance, but I also need to focus better.”

Risa Shoji crashed on a cheated triple loop, and three other triples were either underrotated or downgraded as well. The Japanese junior bronze medalist slipped from fourth to sixth at 134.35 points.

“Since this is my second time to come to the Junior Grand Prix Final, I wanted to step forward from last year,” stated the 15-year-old. “However, I made a major mistake during my free program, the same as last year.”

“I’m not satisfied with my performance,” Shoji summed up. “I was focusing well on transitions and expressions, but I seemed to make mistakes with other elements quite often. I would like to improve this. After the performance my coach said to me “the first half was pretty good” and I agree with him.”

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