Andrei Griazev of Russia was the winner of the men’s event followed by USA’s Evan Lysacek who won his third silver medal. His teammate, Jordan Brauninger, won the bronze in his first trip to Junior Worlds.
The men’s event began with the Qualifying Rounds which account for 20 percent of the final score. The short program is worth 30 percent while the long is worth 50 percent. The top 15 skaters from each qualifying group advanced to the Short Program.
Qualifying Round – Group A
Skating to Rachmaninov’s Concerto No. 2 for Piano, Lysacek stepped out of his opening triple Axel but then landed a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination. The 2004 Junior Grand Prix champion then executed triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination followed by a triple loop, a triple Salchow, and a triple flip to earn marks ranging from 5.5 to 5.7 for both technical merit and presentation.
“I had some bad jet lag today, so Frank Carroll (coach) told me earlier today that this Championship is more of a marathon, less of a sprint. Just pace yourself and don’t overexert anything today. Don’t get too excited, don’t push yourself too hard, because the next two programs count for a lot more,” Lysacek commented. “I just got through it and I did the best I could for today. It wasn’t the very best I can do, so I’m hoping to improve upon it.”
Griazev opened his program to a selection of Fellini soundtracks with a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination followed by a triple Salchow-triple toeloop combination. The 2004 Junior Grand Prix silver medalist then executed a triple Lutz, a triple flip (which had a turnout), and a triple Salchow. He then doubled a planned triple loop but succeeded on his next one following a fast straight-line footwork sequence. His marks ranged from 5.2 to 5.7 for second place finish in his group.
“I felt tired, but overall it went quite well,” the 18-year-old said. “It was tough to skate, this rink is so cold. I left out the second triple Axel because this is just Qualifying and I don’t have to put too much pressure on myself. There are two more days of competition ahead of me. I doesn’t really matter if you are first or second in Qualifying.” Referring to the absence of his coach Tatiana Tarasova, he explained: “Of course I know what I have to do, but it’s not so easy without my coach. But it isn’t easy for anybody.”
Japan’s Kazumi Kishimoto skated to the Japanese soundtrack Ketushi, landing a triple Axel-double toeloop combination followed by a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination. He then went on to execute a triple flip and a triple Axel (slightly two-footing the landing), but doubled his next planned triple loop. The 2004 Japanese silver medalist also landed a triple Lutz and a triple Salchow to earn marks from 4.8 to 5.6 for a third place finish in his group.
“I was fourth at Junior Worlds last year and I really hope to medal this year,” said Kishimoto, who was pleased with his performance.
Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic placed fourth followed by Brauninger who was fifth.
Qualifying Round – Group B
France’s Albert Preaubert landed a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination followed by a triple flip-triple toe combination (landing the toe at a dead stop but managing to stay on one foot). The 2003 Junior Worlds bronze medalist then went on to land a triple Lutz but fell out of a triple loop and then fell on the next triple Axel. He then executed a triple flip and a triple Salchow in his routine to Zinzin and Revolution, earning marks from 4.9 to 5.6 for a first place finish in his group.
“That wasn’t so bad, but I can certainly do better,” the 18-year-old said. “I risked the triple Axel-triple toeloop combination which was the most difficult element in my program. I’ll put in the quad [toeloop] for sure in the final free skating, and I have to land the second triple Axel. I was third last year at Junior Worlds and I hope at least to repeat this result.”
Skating to Westside Story, Denis Leushin of Russia landed a triple Axel, a triple flip-double toeloop combination, a triple Lutz, a triple loop, and a triple Salchow. However, the 18-year-old stepped out of a triple toeloop, doubled the next one, and then fell during a circular footwork sequence, sliding on his back. Leushin’s marks ranged from 4.9 to 5.5 for a second place finish in his group.
“I didn’t have so many competitions this season, just two Grand Prix events, Russian Seniors and Junior Nationals,” Leushin explained. “My coach and I try to get more consistency and confidence with each performance. I made it to Junior Worlds for the first time and considering this, I think it was good. I managed my jumps. I only made a mistake on one jump and I fell in the footwork. I felt a bit tired, but I didn’t expect [the fall].”
USA’s Dennis Phan landed a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination but then fell hard on his triple Axel. He went on to land a triple flip (fighting for the landing), a triple loop-triple loop combination (again, fighting for the landing of the second jump), and fell on a triple Lutz. He then executed a triple toeloop and a triple Salchow in his performance to The Three Musketeers. The 18-year-old placed third in his group with marks ranging from 4.5 to 5.2.
“My program was ok, but not what I expected,” Phan admitted. “I have been practicing very well. I went out there and thought my program was ok, but it could have been better.”
France’s Damien Djordevic and Russia’s Sergei Dobrin tied for fourth place followed by Switzerland’s Jamal Othman who was fifth.
Skating to a tango, Griazev opened with a huge triple Axel-double toeloop combination. The Russian had planned a triple-triple combination but the Axel was too big and almost overrotated. He followed with footwork into a triple flip, a double Axel, and strong spins and footwork to earn marks ranging from 5.0 to 5.9 for a first place finish in the short and overall.
“I felt much better than yesterday in qualifying,” Griazev commented. “I skated well throughout the whole program, not like yesterday. I wasn’t nervous, but I wanted to do everything carefully.”
Lysacek hung onto to the landing of his triple Axel, adding a double toeloop, but had no problems with the triple flip and a double Axel. The 18-year-old earned marks from 5.2 to 5.8 for his routine to Espana Cani, placing second in the short and overall.
“I had some boot problems again,” the 2004 Four Continents bronze medalist explained. “One of my hooks came out and then my hole [for the lace] ripped on the other boot. It happened after the warm up, before my program. I was a bit jittery then. I didn’t feel great, not to make excuses, I tried to do my best. It’s very uncharacteristic for me to skate like that. I’m disappointed that this happened now.” The skater added that his boots will be taken to a shoemaker tomorrow to get them fixed.
Preaubert opened his program with a triple Axel-double toeloop combination, followed by a triple flip and a double Axel. His routine to Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert earned marks from 4.9 to 5.7 for a fifth place finish in the short and third overall.
“I could have done a bit better with a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination,” Preaubert commented. “I did just a triple-double combination because the Axel was a bit shaky. I think I could have been in the top three for the Short Program, but I stayed in contention and I’m in the last warm up group which is important for the long program. It was a bit hard. I skated last and I heard the audience cheering for the other skaters. Obviously, everybody was skating quite well and I had to stay focused.”
Brauninger, skating to Gerswhin’s Summertime, opened with a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination followed by a triple flip and a double Axel. He finished third in the short to place fourth overall, with marks ranging from 5.1 to 5.7.
Canada’s Christopher Mabee finished fifth overall after placing fourth in the short. His routine to Paulo’s Fantasia included a triple Axel-double toeloop, a triple flip, and a double Axel with fast combination spins at the the end of his program.
Griazev opened his long program with a big triple Axel-triple toeloop combination, pumping his fist, and then landed another. He then doubled his next triple Lutz and fell out of a triple flip but recovered to land a triple Salchow-triple toeloop combination, a triple loop, and a double Axel. His circular footwork sequence drew cheers from the crowd and the 2004 Russian bronze medalist earned marks from 5.4 to 5.8 to place first in the long and overall.
“It was a very important competition for me,” said Griazev. “I felt a lot of responsibility. It was tough, but almost everything worked well. I feel a bit tired now, but to have won the gold medal is a dream come true.”
Lysacek opened his long with a triple Axel-double toeloop combination, followed by a triple Axel in which he did a turnout before adding a double toeloop. He then executed a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a triple loop, a triple Salchow, and a triple flip-double toeloop (stepping out of the toeloop). The two-time and reigning World Junior silver medalist had produced four combinations when only three are allowed, but earned marks from 5.3 to 5.8 to place second in the long and overall, winning his third silver medal at Junior Worlds.
“It was hard for me to get through this week,” said a disappointed Lysacek. “I’ve had a great season. All the competitions so far have been going really well. I had a lot of confidence coming in, but I was tired from all my travels this year.” Competing for the last time at the Junior level, he added, “Tonight I just tried my hardest. Second again – I’ take it. Maybe I just wasn’t meant to win this competition.”
Skating to Patton by Jerry Goldsmith, Brauninger opened with a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination followed by a triple flip-triple toeloop combination. After putting his hand down on a triple Axel, he went on to land a triple loop, a triple Lutz, a triple Salchow, and a double Axel. The 17-year-old received marks from 5.0 to 5.6, placing third in the long and overall to win the bronze.
“I’m just really happy to be here,” said Brauninger, of his first trip to Junior Worlds. “A place in the top five was a goal. To be in the top three is like he (Griazev) says, ‘really a dream come true’. I hope to be back next year and do better.”
Preaubert, who was in third after the short, fell on both triple Axels and a double Axel, slipping to fourth place overall.
Mabee finished in fifth place followed by Kishimoto (JPN) and Phan (USA) who placed sixth and seventh respectively.