Pair skaters Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China took their third consecutive World Junior title at the 2012 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday.
Teammates Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin made it a successful day for the Chinese pairs by winning the silver, while Russia’s Vasilisa Davankova and Andrei Deputat pulled up from fifth to secure the bronze medal.
Sui and Han once again went for two quad throws in their ambitious Flamenco-themed program. The throw quad Salchow was slightly two-footed and Han caught his partner late on the quad twist so that she almost landed on his shoulder. Nevertheless, these high-risk elements alone were worth 15.51 points.
Sui and Han are the first pairs team to include two quad throws in their routines, but haven’t yet performed both of them perfectly clean in international competition. The side by side double Axel, throw triple flip, and difficult lifts were fine, but Han wobbled on the triple toe-double toe combination, landing forward on the second jump that was downgraded.
The Four Continents Champions earned 116.40 points and racked up 175.69 points overall.
“Today we did well, but we didn’t do our best,” admitted Han. “I was a little nervous. I think Belarus is our lucky place because we were able to win Junior Worlds here for the third time.”
Although the team has competed successfully at the senior level, Han doesn’t think that competing in juniors is too easy.
“With each competition we are learning and gain new knowledge, from juniors and seniors alike,” he stressed, and didn’t exclude to returning to Junior Worlds next year.
Yu and Yang were actually not too far behind, and even earned a slightly higher technical score for their program to Requiem for a Dream. The two-time Chinese silver medalists hit a triple twist, double Axel-double Axel sequence, triple toe, and throw triple loop and Salchow. They also earned a level four for the lifts, the spin, and the death spiral, and achieved a new season’s best with 112.76 points.
Overall, Yu and Yang accumulated 167.48 points to win the silver.
“Today we are very happy with our performance because we did our very best,” said Jin, “but still we hope to do even better next year.”
“Our coach picked our music,” Yang added. “We really like it because we feel it suits our style.”
Han is unsure if they will compete in juniors again next season. “It is up to our national federation to decide.”
Davankova and Deputat are a new team, but impressed in their international debut. Their performance to Romeo and Juliet included a triple toe-double toe, triple twist, throw triple loop, and throw triple flip, as well as level-four spins, lifts and death spiral. The team from Moscow just needs to develop more speed and power and polish their skating, but their potential is huge.
The Russian Junior Champions scored 103.16 points which added up to 153.66 points.
“We are very pleased to have come third in our debut,” said Davankova. “We skated very well and we hope to move up next year.”
She felt it was harder for them to compete at Junior Worlds than at (senior) Nationals.
“It was harder here, because there are a lot of strong couples at Russian Nationals and there were no expectations on us,” she explained. “Here we are competing at our level. It’s Junior Worlds, it is a great competition, and we were more nervous.”
USA’s Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier were a strong fourth. They turned in a clean program to Pearl Harbor and landed a triple twist, double Axel, and two triple throw jumps. The U.S. Junior Champions scored 150.55 points.
“It felt strong and it felt really easy, just taking one thing at a time,” said Denney. “We felt very relaxed and confident out there. I’m glad our training paid off and we are very happy with our personal best.”
Denney added that this was their first clean long program in competition. “We didn’t think about places coming into this. Just to be fourth is huge for us, and to skate our personal best is just better than anything.”
Margaret Purdy and Michael Marinaro of Canada moved up from seventh to fifth at 141.76 points. They messed up the triple twist with Marinaro stumbling and going down on one knee, but they hit a double Axel-double Axel sequence, a double throw Salchow, and loop.
Russians Ekaterina Petaikina and Maxim Kurdyukov dropped from third to sixth at 141.19 points after Petaikina fell on the throw triple flip and stumbled on the throw triple loop.
“I don’t really know what happened,” said Petaikina. “I felt calm, but maybe I relaxed too much after landing the triple toe.”
Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists Katherine Bobak and Ian Beharry of Canada finished seventh. She made errors on the throws as well.
Kamila Gainetdinova and Ivan Bich of Russia went for a side by side triple Lutz, but she missed it while he tumbled on the triple loop-double Axel sequence. They placed 12th.