Golden Skate

Lipnitskaia leads ladies in Minsk

Julia Lipnitskaia

Russia's Julia Lipnitskaia performs to "Dark Eyes" at the 2012 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia took a five-point lead in the Ladies short program at the 2012 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships Friday in Minsk, Belarus.

USA’s Gracie Gold came in second, while defending champion Adelina Sotnikova from Russia had to settle for third place.

Lipnitskaia was impressive with her precision and high-quality jumps and extraordinary flexible spins, and her triple toe-triple toe, triple Lutz, and double Axel were effortless.

The Junior Grand Prix (JGP) Final Champion earned 63.09 points, just below her season’s best.

“Today everything worked out for me,” said the 13-year-old. “I skated clean, and I enjoyed skating. I am pleased with my performance. I really wanted to be at this championship and I am very glad to be here. I didn’t really expect to be in first after the short program, but I am very happy about it.”

Gold had to skate seventh out of the 31 skaters and was the first to put out a triple-triple combo (triple flip-triple toe in her case). The toe was a little shaky, but she also landed the triple Lutz, a double Axel, and earned a level four for the three spins to score 58.00 points.

Though the 16-year-old is athletic and has powerful jumps, she lacks polish.

“I am happy with my overall performance,” said the U.S. Junior National Champion. “I got all the levels I had hoped for. The jumps could have been a bit cleaner, but they were still good.”

“It’s my first big international competition so I’m happy with what I did overall,” continued Gold. “It’s a pleasure to be here. I wasn’t sure if I would get to go and they chose me and just being here is a wonderful thing. Being in the top three is amazing. That wasn’t necessarily my goal, but now that I am, it is extremely exciting.”

Sotnikova went for a triple toe-triple toe combination, landed the triple Lutz and double Axel, but the change combination spin was a level one and merited 1.96 points only. The Russian National Champion scored 56.57 points.

“I am not completely satisfied with my performance today,” admitted the 15-year-old. “I missed the spins that I never missed, but I hope to make up for it in the free skating tomorrow and not to repeat my mistakes.”

“It is a little harder this year, because I was the champion last year and I wanted to confirm this result,” continued the reigning World Junior Champion said. “Today I made a mistake in the short program and I will try not to make any mistakes tomorrow so that I can move up, but the most important thing is to skate clean.”

Sotnikova confirmed that she will attempt her triple Lutz-triple loop combination in the free skate.

Skating to Scent of a Woman, Satoko Miyahara of Japan underrotated the flip in her combination with a triple toe, but put out a triple Lutz and three level-four spins. She came in fourth at 52.97 points.

“I had fun in my short program today and I am glad that I did all my jumps,”  the Japanese Junior National Champion said. “I was a little nervous and I’m a bit sad that the flip was underrotated.”

USA’s Christina Gao held it together in her short program to Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and hit a triple toe-triple toe, a triple Lutz (but got an edge call), and a double Axel, however, the flying sit spin garnered only a level one. The 16-year-old achieved a new season’s best with 52.66 points.

Gao was happy with her performance, but admitted that the Grand Prix season had a been a bit rough for her.

“It’s a learning season I think,” she explained. “I told myself ‘don’t worry about the score, the outcome’. So I’m just happy that I did what I did. I stayed on my feet and I landed everything. I lost some levels and I had to fight for some landings and they weren’t as smooth.”

“At the beginning of the season I wasn’t training very well at all,” Gao continued. “Now I started to train much better and I think I’m ready for the free skate.”

Zijun Li of China downgraded her planned triple toe-triple toe combo to a triple-double and also lost points on her Lutz due to an edge call to place sixth (51.74 points).

Korea’s Hae-Jin Kim opened her routine to Moonlight Sonata with a triple toe-triple toe, but stumbled out on her triple Lutz. She is currently ranked seventh (51.56 points).

Joshi Helgesson of Sweden turned in a clean program that included a triple Lutz and a triple Salchow-double toe, but she lacked speed. She finished eighth with 50.74 points.

Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond nailed a triple toe-triple toe, but doubled her planned triple Lutz to come in ninth (50.15 points).

Ziquan Zhao from China was one of the six girls to land a triple toe-triple toe combination and currently sits in 10th place (49.22 points).

Russia’s Polina Shelepen hit her triple toe-triple toe combo, but singled the Lutz to finish 12th (47.99 points).