Golden Skate

Kamila Valieva captures Junior World gold in season debut

2020 Junior Worlds

Ladies’ Free Skate

Kamila Valieva of Russia maintained her lead after the Short Program to capture the Ladies’ title on Saturday in Tallinn, Estonia. Teammate Daria Usacheva rose from third to pocket the silver, while USA’s Alysa Liu took the bronze.

Valieva gave a brilliant skate to “Exogenesis Symphony,” which featured a quad toe-double toe and six solid triple jumps, including a triple Lutz-triple toe. The only error in her routine came when she stepped out of her opening quad toe. All spins and footwork received a level 4 along with positive grades of execution (GOE). The extraordinary change combination spin alone was awarded eight +5 GOE out of the nine judges. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champion earned a new personal best of 152.38 for first in the Free Skate and overall (227.30).

“There was a little mistake on the toe loop, but basically I am pleased with my performance,” said the Russian junior champion. “This was my first Junior Worlds. No matter what condition I am in, I have to come here and do everything I can do like in training—even if not everything works in practice.”

Skating to “Je suis malade,” Usacheva landed a total of seven triple jumps, including a triple Lutz-double toe and triple Lutz-Euler-triple Salchow. The only mistake in her mature and expressive routine was an edge call on the front end of a triple flip-triple toe. The 2019-20 Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalist also showed quality level 4 spins and footwork, and earned a new personal best of 139.29 for second place in the Free Skate and overall (207.74).

“I am so happy to skate clean, but all jumps I can do better,” said the Russian junior bronze medalist. “It was a huge experience and the atmosphere and the scale of the event is like at the Grand Prix Final, but the significance of the competition feels bigger. I really enjoyed skating here.”

Liu underrotated her opening triple Axel and then fell on a quad Lutz attempt, but quickly recovered to land a solid triple Axel as well as six more clean triple jumps. The 2019-20 Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist also displayed strong level 4 spins and footwork in her focused and expressive routine to “Illumination,” placing third in the Free Skate and overall (137.31 / 204.83).

“I was very happy with my placement and I was very happy to be here,” said the two-time and current U.S. champion. “I don’t think the short program placement should affect how you skate in the free program. I think I kind of left it behind. It already happened and I can’t undo what happened.”

Russia’s Maiia Khromykh stumbled out of a quad Salchow, but landed seven solid triple jumps in her routine to music from the Ghost soundtrack. The 2019 Denis Ten Memorial junior silver medalist received a level 4 on all three spins and scored a new personal best of 131.46 for fourth place in the Free Skate and overall (98.24).

“The season wasn’t easy,” said the 13-year-old, citing health issues, “but I’m here and this means I managed all that.”

Haein Lee of South Korea, who stood in second after the Short Program, finished sixth (123.93) in the Free Skate after falling on a triple flip. The 2019-20 Junior Grand Prix finalist still landed a total of five clean triple jumps, including a triple Lutz-triple toe, while displaying two level 4 spins and footwork. She finished fifth overall (194.01).

Teammate Seoyeong Wi maintained sixth overall (193.30) after placing fifth in her Free Skate with a new personal best of 127.85. The 2020 Asian Open junior champion received an edge call on both triple flips—one of which she put a hand down in combination with a double toe, but landed a solid triple Lutz-triple toe and earned level 4 on all spins and footwork.

“It’s a nice finish for my last competition that is also my first Junior World Championships,” said the 2020 Asian Open junior champion. “I’m satisfied with it.”

Ekaterina Kurakova of Poland  was near-solid except for putting a foot down on the back end of a double Axel-triple toe and getting an edge call on the last jump of a triple Lutz-Euler-triple flip. The 2019 CS Warsaw Cup champion finished seventh in the Free Skate and rose up two places to seventh overall (121.31 /184.51).

“Next season I’ll be a senior,” said Kurakova. “It was my first Junior Worlds. I’m so happy, because we did hard work with Brian and it was important for me to show what Brian made for me. I’m really grateful to my coaches and parents.”

USA’s Starr Andrews underrotated the last jump in a triple loop-double toe-double loop combination, as well as triple Salchow, but was otherwise clean. The 2019 Gold Spin junior silver medalist finished eighth in the Free Skate with a new personal best of 115.56 and eighth overall (180.87).

“I’m definitely happy!” said the 18-year-old from California. “I’m happy I could skate my last junior program clean.”

Canada’s Alison Schumacher finished ninth overall (174.02), followed by Ekaterina Ryabova of Azerbaijan (169.89).