The ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final was held at the Malmö Isstadion in Malmö, Sweden, December 12-14, 2003. The event featured the top eight qualifiers (in each discipline) from the eight Junior Grand Prix series which began in September.
Japan’s Miki Ando won her second Junior Grand Prix Final competition (she won gold in 2002 and bronze last year). Lina Johansson of Sweden, who was in first after the short program, fell to second place to settle for silver, while Hungary’s Viktoria Pavuk moved up one spot from fourth to win the bronze.
In the short program, Ando stepped out of the triple Lutz in her opening combination, but was able to add the double toeloop. The 15-year-old (who turns 16 in a few days) went on to complete a triple flip and double Axel to score marks ranging from 4.5 to 5.4 for required elements and 4.8 to 5.5 for presentation. She was in second place after her performance to the The Pianist soundtrack by Fryderyk Chopin.
Johansson, who lives and trains in Malmö, skated to The Professional soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. Her routine featured a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a double Axel, good spins, and a triple flip (landing was a bit shaky). The Swedish skater earned marks up to 5.4 for both required elements and presentation.
Japan’s Mai Asada hit her jumps (triple Lutz-double toeloop, triple flip, and a double Axel) but struggled with the landing of her flying sit spin. The 15-year-old’s performance to Manuel de Falla’s Spanish Dance No. 1 earned technical points ranging from 4.2 to 5.1 and 4.5 to 5.3 for presentation.
Pavuk was in fourth place after the short program, followed by Russia’s Olga Naidenova who was fifth.
In the free skate, Ando hit a triple Lutz-triple loop combination but fell on her quadruple Salchow attempt. The World Junior silver medalist went on to complete three more triples and good spins to score marks up to 5.5 for technical merit and up to 5.4 for presentation for her performance to Firebird by Stravinsky.
“I enjoyed skating today,” Ando said. She was happy to win the event but she ranked her gold medal from the (Junior Grand Prix event) Salchow Trophy in 2001 in Malmö higher. She announced that she is hoping to be selected for the senior National team.
Overnight leader Johansson, put out a good performance that included six triple jumps, but some of her landings were weak and she missed the triple flip. The 15-year-old, who trains in Malmö, received marks up to 5.3 for technical merit and up to 5.4 for presentation.
Pavuk pulled up from fourth place with her performance to Miss You by Edvin Marton and Rhapsody in Rock by Robert Wells. The two-time Hungarian junior national champion made a few mistakes, but didn’t fall, receiving 4.7 to 5.2 for required elements and 4.8 to 5.1 for presentation.
Asada fell from third to fourth place overall. She attempted a triple Axel, but it was underrotated and the landing was two-footed. USA’s Kimmie Meissner climbed two spots from seventh to fifth place.
Nora Hoffmann and Attila Elek of Hungary took home their first Junior Grand Prix Final gold medal. Russia’s Elena Romanovskaya and Alexander Grachev won their second Junior Grand Prix Final silver medal, while USA’s Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin won their second bronze.
Hoffmann and Elek put out an excellent Original Dance (OD), using the Swing Combo theme (Rock’n’Roll/Blues) to Great Balls of Fire and Big Legged Woman. Their performance included a very nice dance spin and a good side-by-side footwork line. The Hungarians scored marks ranging from 5.0 to 5.3 for composition and 5.2 to 5.5 for presentation.
Romanovskaya and Grachev won the CD (Paso Doble) with a very good performance, but the team then lost the OD to Hoffmann and Elek. It was a close second, with composition marks ranging from 5.0 to 5.4 and presentation marks from 5.1 to 5.6.
USA’s Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin placed third after a solid performance in both the CD and OD. They were followed by Russia’s Natalia Mikhailova and Arkadi Sergeev, who finished fourth.
In the Free Dance (FD), Hoffmann and Elek put out a strong performance to Dance with Me. They kept good speed throughout the program, skated with flow and confidence. Their serpentine lift drew extra applause. The World Junior silver medalist won clearly with marks ranging from 5.2 to 5.5 for their elements and from 5.2 to 5.7 for presentation.
“We did everything we could do. I think we were nervous because of the other good skaters but we skated well,” Hoffmann told the press.
Romanovskaya and Grachev danced to Libertango. The reigning World Junior bronze medalists left a good impression, but their twizzles were a bit out of control. Their marks went up to 5.4 for technique and up to 5.6 for presentation.
The Russian team wasn’t completely satisfied with their performance. “Our goal is to skate well, better than here and improve as much as possible and enjoy our last year as juniors. We always prepare a lot for the free dance but it is never perfect,” Romanovskaya said.
Matthews and Zavozin chosen the famous Bolero by Maurice Ravel and interpreted it well. The American-Russian team’s transitions stood out and they earned marks from 4.7 to 5.3 for technique and from 5.0 to 5.6 for presentation.
“We were surprised to get the bronze medal but now we are eager to get back to the US and prepare for the US Championships and the Junior Worlds,” Matthews commented. “We loved the Bolero. We don’t attempt to make it better than Torvill and Dean, but we got so many emotions from it,” she continued.
Mikhailova and Sergeev remained in fourth place overall while Ukraine’s Anna Zadorozhniuk and Sergei Verbilo moved up to fifth.
Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison of Canada won their first major gold medal as a team at this event. Russia’s Natalia Shestakova and Pavel Lebedev, another new team won silver, while their teammates, Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov, won the bronze.
Performing to David Tolk’s Whose Woods these are, the pair completed a double twist, a throw triple Salchow, and a nice lift, but Davison stepped out of the landing of the side-by-side double Axel. Skating their first season together, the team included interesting transition moves into their routine. They received marks ranging from 4.3 to 5.3 for required elements and from 4.8 to 5.6 for presentation.
Shestakova and Lebedev, came in second with a solid performance that featured a side-by-side double Axel and a throw triple Salchow. They earned technical marks ranging from 4.1 to 5.2 while their presentation marks ranged from 4.7 to 5.3.
Mukhortova and Trankov finished third after their short program to White Nights, ahead of Ukraine’s Tatiana Volosozhar and Petr Kharchenko, who placed fourth.
In the free skate, Dube and Davison hit a triple twist, throw triple Salchow and had nice lifts, but Dube went down on the side-by-side triple Salchow and on the triple throw loop. Skating to Romeo and Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev, the Canadian team impressed with their choreography. Their marks ranged from 4.7 to 5.3 for technique and from 5.0 to 5.5 for presentation.
“We need to nail our elements better, like today we missed a few jumps, and get better and more s ecure at each element,” Dube explained. Both skaters said that they plan to continue competing as single skaters as well.
Shestakova and Lebedev of Russia captured the silver with their Matrix program which contained a double twist, a throw triple loop, a throw triple Salchow and a one-armed lift. However, Lebedev doubled the side-by-side Salchow.
“We made smaller mistakes, and I doubled a triple salchow. But other than that we skated well. We just have to continue to develop as skaters,” Lebedev commented.
Shestakova’s and Lebedev’s previous partners, Mukhortova and Trankov teamed up and took the bronze medal. They had a good performance as well and produced a side-by-side triple toeloop, a double twist, two triple throws (loop and Salchow), but Mukhortova fell on the double Axel.
Tatiana Volosozhar and Petro Kharchenko of the Ukraine finished fourth overall, followed by Russia’s Tatiana Kokareva and Egor Golovkin, who moved up one spot to fifth.
In what was a high-level event, USA’s Evan Lysacek won the gold, while Russia’s Andrei Griazev took home silver. Christopher Mabee of Canada moved up two spots to claim the bronze.
In the short program, Lysacek nailed a triple Axel-double toeloop combination, a double Axel, a triple flip, and displayed fast spins in his program to Espana Cani. The two-time World Junior silver medalist was awarded marks ranging from 4.9 to 5.4 for required elements and from 5.2 to 5.6 for presentation.
Griazev opened his routine to Khorobushko by Bond with a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination, but then singled the flip. The Russian recovered to land a double Axel and performed difficult footwork to earn marks as high as 5.3 for required elements and 5.6 for presentation.
Russia’s Alexander Uspenski, who had drawn to skate first, set the standard for the event with a strong performance that featured a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination, a double Axel and triple flip.
Six of the eight skaters attempted and landed a triple Axel in their short program. Russia’s Sergei Dobrin was in fourth place, followed by Mabee, who was fifth.
Lysacek earned the title with a flawless program to Concerto No. 2 for Piano by Sergei Rachmaninov. The 18-year-old hit a triple Axel-double toeloop combination, another triple Axel as well as a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, and three more triples. His spins were fast and well centered. The American received marks ranging from 5.3 to 5.6 for technical merit and from 5.2 to 5.6 for presentation.
“I am glad that I managed to achieve an almost mistake free performance. I have been training hard for this competition and I’m pleased that it went well, since this competition is at an odd time of the season,” Lysacek said.
Griazev was a strong second. His emotional performance to a selection of Fellini soundtracks included two triple Axels (one in combination with double toeloop), a triple Salchow-triple toeloop combination and three more triples as well as fast footwork. His marks were close and went up to 5.5 for technical merit and up to 5.6 for presentation.
His coach, Alexei Yagudin, was very proud of his student. Griazev explained that he had been working on a quadruple jump during the summer but wasn’t doing in at the moment.
Mabee, who had drawn to skate first of the eight skaters, produced seven triples, including a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination, but he popped the Salchow and put his hand down on the final jump, a triple toeloop.
“I entered the free skate with an open mind and had no expectations. It didn’t really matter which place I got, because it would still be better than last season where my performance went up and down. I wanted to prove myself and show that I belonged here,” Mabee said, referring to the Final.
Uspenski plummeted from third to seventh, while USA’s Jordan Brauninger moved up two spots to finish fourth. Dobrin dropped a spot to finish fifth overall.