Figure Skating News
Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin of Russia took the gold in the Ice Dance event at the 2017-18 Junior Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating on Saturday. USA’s Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko came in a close second, followed by Russia’s Sofia Polishchuk and Alexander Vakhnov.
All six teams were solid, most of whom performed difficult level four lifts, twizzles, and combination spins.
Overnight leaders Skoptcova (17) and Aleshin (20) earned 87.84 points for their routine to “O Mare e tu,” which featured a difficult rotational lift that garnered no less than +2 grades of execution (GOE) across the board. Their level four twizzles were solid and the Russian junior bronze medalists finished first overall with 153.61 points.
“We already got high levels in other events,” noted Skoptcova. “We had twice all level fours in the short dance this season. In the free dance, we also had level fours and level three for the footwork.”
“For us each competition is important,” said Skoptcova, regarding winning. “We make no difference between important or not important events. We try to win each time.”
“We haven’t realized it yet,” said Aleshin, who added this will be their final season as juniors.
Only less than a tenth of a point separated Carreira (17) and Ponomarenko (16) from the Russians in the free dance (87.66) as they were equally strong in their performance to music from W./E. The 2017 World Junior bronze medalists showed strong twizzles as well, and came in second overall with 151.76 points.
“We feel really good about how we skate,” said Carreira. “We are super happy, but we still have a lot of things to work on. Our ultimate goal is to win the Olympics, but for this season, we would like to win Junior Worlds.”
“I feel like we executed our elements very well,” said Ponomarenko. “We skated the best we can skate it. We still need to work on our GOE and presentation mark.”
Also solid, were Polishchuk (16) and Vakhnov (18), who finished third (85.87) with their free dance to music from the Black Swan. Their routine featured strong level four twizzles, lifts, and dance spin. They maintained third overall (149.04) to win the bronze.
“We are pleased with our performance here,” said Vakhnov. “In general, we did everything we planned. There were some little mistakes, but it means that you always have room to grow.”
“We have changed only the end of the program because nobody liked it,” he added, regarding the free dance. “Now we have another lift which we have changed almost the day before the departure. This is the first competition where we did it.”
“Our choreographer made us to feel the atmosphere of theatre,” explained Polishchuk of their routine to the Black Swan. “She made us realize that it is the ballet, not just a program. In the beginning of the program I am a white swan, very innocent and tender girl who doesn’t have any sins. Then I meet Sasha, who is on the dark side. He enchants me like a demon, I have a struggle inside myself, and by the end of the program, I become a black swan. We try to take different characters to be able to skate and show everything, to be professional.”
Sofia Shevchenko (15) and Igor Eremenko (20) of Russia finished fourth in the free dance and overall (84.28 / 144.38).
“This competition was a big step for us and was a great experience,” said Shevchenko. “The crowd was amazing! It moved me, and we felt connected to the audience—not just showing to the crowd our performance. We want everyone to enjoy our program.”
“As Japan is far from where we train, we are hoping to take about two days off and will start training again for Nationals,” said Eremenko regarding their plans. “Our goals for nationals is to not just think about the results, but to do our best and for our coach, and us to be satisfied with our skating.”
Teammates Arina Ushakova (15) and Maxim Nekrasov (17) earned a personal best (83.35) for their free dance and finished fifth overall (141.88).
“Overall, I am happy with the performance,” said Ushakova. “The step sequences are the area we need to work for the improvement (serpentine level two). This was our first time at the Grand Prix Final and I thought we did what we could do for both Free and Short Dance. Because we experienced several big competitions before this, we didn’t get that nervous. The Final is another great opportunity to watch the senior skaters. We need to fix what we missed today and continue practicing for Russian Nationals.”
Canada’s Marjorie Lajoie (17) and Zachary Lagha (18) rounded out the ice dancers with 141.28 points.
“We felt pretty good with how well we trained considering I was injured,” said Lajoie. “We trained two weeks before coming here and we felt pretty good with the limited time we had. The crowd was amazing and it’s really good to be here in Japan for the Grand Prix Final. We will review our videos and watch our skate and see what we have to improve.”
“The whole experience was nice,” said Lagha. “It was good to skate in a big rink. I think we have to figure out what our mistake was in our preparation coming into this competition.”