Japan’s Mao Asada led the ladies throughout the event, winning the gold. Yu-Na Kim of South Korea catapulted from sixth place after the short to win the silver, while USA’s Emily Hughes rose from fifth place to win the bronze. It was the first time all three competitors competed at this event.
The ladies event began with the Qualifying Round (QR). The qualifying round did not impact the final score in this event. It’s purpose was to determine which of the 30 (of 44) competitors would proceed to the Short Program.
In the short, Asada popped a boot lace on the landing of her opening jump – a triple lutz-double loop combination, and had to restart her routine. The 2005 Japanese junior champ had no problems resuming her program and landed a double Axel, a triple loop, and displayed a nice spiral sequence as well as good spins. With a score of 60.11, the 14-year-old placed an easy first overall with her routine to John William’s Fantasy For Orchestra from the Wizard of Oz.
“The jumps in today’s performance were good so I felt confident,” offered Asada, adding that though she wasn’t nervous, she was a little bit shocked about the boot lace incident. “This has happened to me for the first time.”
Performing to music from The Mission soundtrack, USA’s Alissa Czisny opened with a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, followed by a triple loop, and a double Axel which garnered a happy leap by her coach. The 17-year-old also displayed nice spirals and good spins, earning a score of 52.91 for a second place finish after the short.
“My short program was probably the best all year,” said a happy Czisny. “It was much better than yesterday. Yesterday’s qualifying round gave me something to fight for today, and that’s why my program was so much better.”
Though Czisny has found herself in the mix with two top contenders (Mao and Kimmie Meissner) at this event, she is trying to stay focused. “I’m happy that I’m here,” she admitted, “but I try not to think about that before my program. I just try to think about my own job that I have to do and not anybody else.”
Teammate Kimmie Meissner also landed her triple Lutz-double toeloop combination (despite being close to the boards) in her short to Debussy’s Reverie, following up with a triple loop and a double Axel. The 2005 US bronze medalist earned a score of 52.67 for a third place finish after the short, trailing Czisny by less than a quarter of a point.
“Today was a good day for me,” said Meissner, “and my short program and like [Czisny] said, it was much better than yesterday.” Meissner also likes the fact that in the short program, one doesn’t have to wait as long to take the ice. “I think just everybody was on their game tonight, and it was a great competition.”
China’s Binshu Xu also gave a nice performance with her short to Joe Hisaishi’s One Summer’s Day. The 2004 Chinese champion landed a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a triple loop, a double Axel, and displayed a nice combination spin to earn 51.61 points for a fourth place finish after the short.
Hughes experienced a wobble on the landing of her double Axel, but landed a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and a triple loop, ending her routine to Gershwin’s Allegro with a good combination spin as well as an ear-to-ear grin. The 16-year-old earned 51.42 points for a fifth place finish after the short.
Kim finished sixth (48.67 points) after the short, followed by Georgia’s Elene Gedevanishvili (48.42 points).
Asada became the first lady to land a triple Axel at the World Junior Championships. Skating to La Boutique Fantastique by Jerome Kern, the 2004-05 Junior Grand Prix Final Champion followed up with a triple Lutz, a double Axel, and a triple flip. Asada, who trains with Midori Ito’s former coach Machiko Yamada, also delivered a textbook layback spin followed by a triple flip-triple toeloop combination (but the toeloop was underrotated and downgraded to a double), a triple Lutz, and a triple loop-double loop combination while displaying good spins throughout. The student from Nagoya, who also delivered a beaming smile to the crowd which was on their feet, earned 119.13 points for a first place finish in the long and overall (179.24) to win the gold.
“I’m very satisfied with my performance,” said Asada. “I was a little bit nervous while I waited backstage and saw the other skater’s performances on the monitor. But when my turn came, the nervousness was gone and I was just happy to skate, and I’m very happy with what I did tonight.”
Kim, who stood in sixth after the short, also received a standing ovation for her routine to Papa, Can You Hear Me?. The 2004-05 Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist landed a triple toeloop-triple toeloop combination as well as a triple Lutz-double toeloop-double loop combination. The 14-year-old also delivered two double Axels and three more triples (one in combination with a double) to earn a score of 110.26 points, placing second in the long. With a total of 158.93, the 2004 South Korean bronze medalist catapulted to second place overall to capture the silver.
“After I did so many mistakes in short program, was very nervous and my body was very tense,” admitted Kim. “But today I did very well, so I’m happy about this.” Kim also felt that she had achieved her goal for this season. “I’m very happy to have won this first figure skating medal for Korea. From now on I have to work harder in order to achieve (even) better results.”
Hughes also delivered a fine program, landing a double Axel at the beginning of her routine, followed by a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and a triple toeloop-double toeloop combination. The 16-year-old landed three more triple jumps (a triple loop was counted as a double), placing third in the long (96.47) with her performance to Sleeping Beauty and moving up to clinch the bronze with a total score of 147.89.
“This being my first Junior Worlds I was really excited to be here,” said Hughes. “For the season, I just wanted to keep doing better and better programs, and I think I accomplished that. So I’m really excited with the skate I had and with the whole experience.” Before skating, Emily spoke on the phone with her sister Sarah. “Good luck and try and stay vertical,” the 2002 Olympic gold medalist told her sister.
Skating to Daphnis and Chloe by Maurice Ravel, Meissner opened her routine with a triple flip followed by a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a double Axel-double toeloop combination, a triple loop, and a triple Salchow. However, the 2004-05 Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalist singled a Lutz and a flip near the end of her program. The 16-year-old earned 93.96 points for a fourth place finish in the long and as a result, slipped from third to fourth overall (146.63).
Gedevanishvili, who stood in seventh after the short, placed fifth in the long and overall (139.11). The 14-year-old struggled with the landing on most of her triple jumps, but managed a clean double Axel and triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination at the beginning of her routine to Luigini’s Ballet Egyptien, Op 12. This was her second trip to this event – last year she finished 12th.
Czisny dropped from second to sixth place overall (136.99 points) after placing eighth in the long. The 2001 US junior silver medalist singled a Salchow and fell on a double Axel in her free skate to Swan Lake.
In her third trip to this event, Xu fell from fourth to seventh overall (136.22 points) after placing seventh in the long. The 16-year-old fell on a triple toeloop as well as a triple Lutz in her routine to music from the Mulan soundtrack.
Canada’s Mira Leung, who stood in 12th after the short, finished eighth overall after placing sixth in the long.