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Russia’s Kamila Valieva soars to Junior Grand Prix Final title

Kamila Valieva

Russia’s Kamila Valieva performs her Free Skate at the 2019-20 Junior Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating.

2019-20 Junior Grand Prix Final

Ladies’ Free Skate

Kamila Valieva of Russia rose from fourth to claim the gold in the Ladies event after the Free Skate in Torino, Italy, on Friday. Overnight leader Alysa Liu (USA) settled for the silver, while Russia’s Daria Usacheva slipped to third for the bronze.

Valieva put out a dynamic program to “Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3 (Redemption)” by Muse in which all jumps were rock solid and filled with seamless transitions. The 13-year-old from Moscow landed a total of seven triple jumps, including a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple flip-Euler-triple Salchow and triple Lutz. All spins and footwork received a level 4 and every element received many positive grades of execution (GOE). She earned 138.45 for the free skate, and with a total score of 207.47, moved onto the podium and edged out Liu for the gold.

“I’m happy with the skate and with the jumps I did,” said the skater who won both her JGP events. “It was a simple version today, but it was clean, so that’s the main thing. I wanted to do a quad toeloop at the Final, so I am disappointed about that.”

The skater admitted that the win was unexpected. “I just went out to skate clean and show what I can do. I was in fourth after the short program, but the point gap was not big, so I thought I’d have a chance if I skated clean.”

Her future plans include getting her quad toeloop back and then learn the triple Axel.

Liu was charming in her free skate to “Illumination” by Jennifer Thomas, however, unfortunately the program was riddled with mistakes. The U.S. champion underrotated both of the quad Lutzes, as well as a triple Axel combination, and fell on her opening triple Axel. Nevertheless, she landed a triple Lutz-Euler-triple Salchow, triple flip, and triple loop while showing level 4 spins and footwork to score 133.46 for second in the free skate and overall (204.65).

“I’m happy I came here and it’s a relief it’s over, but I’m disappointed,” said the 14-year-old, Richmond, Calif. “My goal is always to skate a clean program, but I didn’t do it. It went OK, but it could have been better in a lot of things. So now I’m going to train a lot and improve the imperfections.”

Usacheva, who skated last, also had some costly errors in her routine to “Je suis malade” by Lara Fabian. The 13-year-old from Moscow landed a solid triple Lutz-double toe and triple loop, but stepped out of a triple Lutz-Euler-triple Salchow and a triple flip-triple toe. The  teen, who won silver in both her JGP events, was otherwise clean and produced strong level 4 spins and footwork to score 130.22 in the free skate and 200.37 overall—both new personal bests.

“I’m happy to be in the podium, but not so pleased that I didn’t get all my elements clean and perfect,” said the 2019 Denis Ten Memorial Challenge junior gold medalist. “There were mistakes and issues and that’s not what I wanted today.”

Haein Lee of South Korea gave a redeeming performance to “Riverdance” after a sub-par short yesterday. The skater appeared more relaxed and showed great expression, landing all seven triple jumps including a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple flip-double toe-double loop, and double Axel-triple toe. She received a level 4 on all spins and footwork and scored 128.99 for fourth in the free skate and moved up to fifth overall (194.38).

“I had a rough time in my short program yesterday, but today I did well with my free program and I’m very happy,” said the 14-year-old from Seoul. “I was very excited before coming to Torino, but after I came here, I was quite nervous. I’m very happy to compete here at the Final. My favorite skater is Yuna Kim. She is not only very good technically, but also has great performances. I also want to show great performances in every competition and without mistakes. As for goals in the future, I just want to stay away from injuries and hopefully I’ll be able to compete at the Beijing Olympics.”

Ksenia Sinitsyna of Russia finished fifth (126.17) in the free skate and fourth (195.57) overall. The skater from Moscow had to fight for some of the landings of her jumps, and the backend of her triple flip-triple toe was underroated. However, she was determined and produced a total of six triple jumps while earning a level 4 on all spins and footwork in her routine to “Vajrasattva Mantra,” “Wrench and Numbers” and “Dakini: Movement IV.”

“I’m happy that I was here and now I feel relieved that I managed to finish this competition quite well,” said the 15-year-old. “In general, I’m pleased with my performances, they were clean. Recently, I was ill before the competition, that’s why it was probably a little bit hard to skate, but I was trying to do my best. Now I feel much better and happy that I managed to perform here. Now I’m going to improve my skating, jumps and spins—to do them technically better and get higher levels for them.”

The skater added that she portrays a “goddess of wisdom” in her free skate and that the make-up was an idea she and her choreographer both had.

Teammate Viktoria Vasilieva rounded out the ladies, finishing sixth (116.30) in the free skate and overall (184.37). Her routine to Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso featured a double Axel-Euler-triple flip and triple flip-triple toe, however, the JGP Baltic Cup silver medalist stepped out of a triple Lutz and underrotated the first jump in a triple loop-double toe.

“I didn’t skate as well as yesterday, I missed the combo,” said the 16-year-old from Moscow. “I was too nervous taking the ice. It didn’t help me skating, but I will work on it. My legs were too stiff, I was thinking the wrong thoughts, all didn’t work, but at those instances, unfortunately I can’t ask to stop the music and start again. I try not to think during the skate, but today I did.”