Golden Skate

Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama takes lead at Junior Worlds

Embed from Getty Images

2020 Junior Worlds

Men’s Short Program

Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama took the lead in the Men’s Short Program in Tallinn, Estonia, on Wednesday afternoon, followed closely by Russia’s Andrei Mozalev. USA’s Andrew Torgashev is currently in third and there are only five or less points separating the skaters in third through 11th place.

Kagiyama received an edge call on the front end of a triple Lutz-triple toe, but otherwise gave a solid and mature performance to Piano Concerto “Shukumei.” The 2020 Four Continents bronze medalist earned many high positive grades of execution (GOE) for his triple loop and triple Axel, as well his three level 4 spins and level 3 footwork. His total score was 85.82.

The current Japanese National junior champion said he felt very relaxed, although despite having good practices, he admitted to being concerned about the triple Axel. He acknowledged that the Lutz-toe combination was a bit shaky, but noted that he was able to compose himself after the the first jump.

This is my last short program of the season, so I was very happy to do a good performance,” said the 16-year-old. “Anything can happen in the free program. I just need to continue to focus.”

Skating to “I Will Never Forget You,” Mozalev landed a triple loop, triple Axel, and triple Lutz-triple toe, while displaying level 4 spins and footwork throughout. The major difference in his score was the result of slightly lower GOEs, however, the 2019-20 Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist was clean and earned a new personal best of 84.31.

“I am basically pleased with my performance,” said the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games Junior silver medalist. “Obviously, there were some little issues and I’ll work on them and try not to repeat them in the free skating.”

Torgashev also secured a personal best (81.50) after a good performance to “Bloodstream,” which featured a triple Axel, triple flip-triple toe, and triple loop. The 2019 CS Asian Open silver medalist was the third and final skater of the 34 men in this segment of the event to score 80+ points.

“I’ve been training very hard for this competition,” said the 18-year-old from Florida. “I was very happy that I was able to skate a program that I’ve been training.”

“I didn’t finish all my spins all the way, where I lost a few points,” added Torgashev, “however, I felt very confident with the jumps. I loved the program today. I loved the feeling of it and I’m very excited to go into the long program.”

Estonia’s Aleksandr Selevko currently sits in fourth with a new personal best of  80.87 points after his routine to “Step Out For A While.” The 2019 Tallinn Trophy silver medalist landed a strong triple Axel, as well a triple loop and triple Lutz-triple toe.

“I’m excited!” said the 18-year-old. “I don’t know what to say! I’m just satisfied. This is my last year as a junior, so I wanted to perform well. I will try to do all I can in the free skate and make the audience and Estonia happy.”

Japan’s Shun Sato landed an excellent triple Axel and triple loop, but had to hang on to the triple Lutz-triple toe. The 2019-20 Junior Grand Prix Final champion also lost his balance on a change foot camel spin and only received a level 2 on his steps, but still managed a new personal best of 79.30 for fifth place.

“I’m happy with the performance today,” said the two-time Japanese junior national silver medalist. “The only mistake was when I lost balance on the spin. I came here aiming for the gold, but of course that’s not the only goal. I want to show good performances too.”

Daniel Grassl of Italy is in sixth place with 78.91 points. While not his best performance, the defending bronze medalist produced a triple loop, triple Axel, and triple Lutz-triple toe, and showed level 4 spins and footwork.

“I can do much better,” said the skater, who won both his Challenger Series events this season. “My goal is to skate my best and then the result will come. I hope I’ll do my best in the free skate.”

Russia’s Ilya Yablokov, who came in as a substitute for Daniil Samsonov, sits in seventh with a new personal best of 77.53. His routine included a triple loop, triple Axel, and triple Lutz-triple toe, as well as three level 4 spins.

Joseph Phan of Canada scored a season’s best of 77.50 for eighth place. His only error came when he two-footed the landing of a triple Axel.

“I felt good from the beginning to the end, not too tired,” said the 18-year-old from Toronto. “I was fighting for all of my jumps, mostly my triple Axel. I still did it, which is good. My goal is to have level 4 on all my spins and footwork.”

Russia’s Petr Gumennik turned out and put a hand down on his triple Axel and is in ninth place (76.07).

“I did a mistake on a triple Axel because I was nervous, I think,” said the 2019-20 Junior Grand Prix finalist. “I usually do the jump automatically, but when I’m worried, I try to control every move. In the free skate, I’m going to do two quads and a triple Axel, as planned.”

USA’s Maxim Naumov, the newly crowned national junior champion, scored a new personal best of 75.20 to round out the top 10 men in this segment of the event.