2023 World Junior Figure Skating Championships
Pairs’ Free Skate
USA’s Sophia Baram and Daniel Tioumentsev dug deep in their free skate at the 2023 World Junior Figure Skating Championships. This morning their coach, Todd Sand, was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack. Anastasia Golubeva and Hektor Giotopoulos Moore of Australia climbed one spot to claim the silver, while Ukrainians Violetta Sierova and Ivan Khobta rose up to pocket the bronze.
Baram and Tioumentsev opened with a good level-three triple twist, followed by a side-by-side triple Salchow-double Axel-double Axel sequence. The only errors came when she stepped out of the throw triple loop and put a foot down on the side-by-side triple toes. The 2022-23 Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist also landed a throw double Lutz and earned a level four on the death spiral, pair spin and both lifts.
“It’s incredible, we are overwhelmed by emotions,” said Baram.
“Very excited!” added Tioumentsev. “It’s still sinking in that we’re actually on the podium! It’s crazy, we’ve worked so hard to get up here, and I just wanted to say congrats to everyone that competed. It’s a great season!”
Both skaters admitted that they had never been that nervous in their entire life.
“We’ve been working so hard during the last year, especially during the last two weeks, and we suppose it finally really paid off,” said Baram.
“We found out this morning and it was definitely a downturn for me and Sonia, something unexpected,” said Tioumentsev, regarding their coach. “We skated tonight for Todd and everyone that helped us this season. It did hit us really hard. We tried to remember what Todd had taught us, to stay in the moment and to remember what kind of corrections he gave us. We really hope that Todd is doing all right. We’ve been sending positive thoughts to him and his family. Thank you to everyone that has reached out to, us as well. We hope Todd will be better and will come back strong!”
“We send out a lot of prayers and we love you, Todd!” said Baram.
The win was a huge achievement for the team who has only been skating together for two years.
“If you told me two years ago that I would be standing on top of the podium right now, I would have probably not have believed it,” said Tioumentsev. “We’ve gone through so many rough patches, so many ups and downs. It definitely took an army to get us here and where we are right now. Ultimately, I’m proud to have Sonia as my partner and proud to have skated with her this season. We’ll just take it one day at a time and we’ll see what happens next.”
Golubeva and Giotopoulos Moore had a rough catch on the triple twist and he fell on the first side-by-side combination jumps, but they were otherwise solid. Their jazzy routine featured triple Salchows, a throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow. Both lifts and the spin were graded a level four and they earned 111.18 for second place. Their total score of 170.36 was enough to punch them up from third to second overall for the silver.
“It wasn’t our best competition, but it’s the nature of the sport—it’s tough,” said Giotopoulos Moore. “Our coach greeted us coming off the ice saying, ‘good job!’ We fought until the end.”
“It’s amazing sharing the podium with these guys,” he added. “I couldn’t be happier to share it with them. I’m really, really happy and still shocked a bit. It’s a huge achievement for us two years in a row to be in this position, to skate, to represent Australia.
“I was so upset after the short program, because we had the problem with the death spiral,” offered Golubeva. “In the free program, I just tried one hundred percent and did my work. I just want to say thank you to my coach Galina Pachina, thank you Igor Tchiniaev and Jonathan Guerreiro, and thank you my partner!”
The 2022-23 Junior Grand Prix Final Champions will now prepare for senior Worlds, and their goal is to finish in the top 10 with two clean programs.
“I’m also really looking forward to the Japanese food!” said Giotopoulos Moore.
Skating to “Halo,” Sierova and Khobta produced the only level-four triple twist of the competition, earning many GOEs in the process. They also landed double Salchows, a double throw loop, a double Lutz-double toe-single Axel sequence, and a throw double Lutz. Both lifts and the pair spin were also graded a level four, and they scored a new personal best of 100.92 points for third place in the free skate. With a total score of 159.39, the team rose from fourth to third overall.
“It was so amazing skating both programs clean!” said Khobta. “We are very tired now, but so happy!”
The Ukrainians have been training in Canada for two weeks with Bruno Marcotte alongside the Japanese teams of Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara and Haruna Murakami/Sumitada Moriguchi.
“It was a great experience and we were amazed how many run-throughs they were able to do,” said Khobta. “We hope we can be as strong one day! I want to say thank you for my coach Pylyp Zalevskyi for this preparation before Junior Worlds, and Bruno Marcotte, for the camp in Toronto, in Oakville. We are very excited to perform for Ukraine. We feel all the support. We are very grateful for our sport and we hope to do our best at the next competitions.”
Sierova and Khobta will now return to Chemnitz to prepare for senior Worlds. They are still age-eligible for two more years on the junior level, but hope to do some senior challenger events, and maybe European and/or Worlds.
“We will stay in juniors next year for sure,” Khobta confirmed.
Japan’s Haruna Murakami and Sumitada Moriguchi who sat in sixth after the short, placed fourth in the free skate (99.02) and overall (154.71). Their Beatles routine was highlighted by a level-four reverse lift, a throw double Salchow and throw double flip.
The team said the support of the crowd helped them a great deal, especially towards the end when they started to tire. There were relieved when it was done and were told by their coaches that they should really be proud of themselves.
“We are of course a bit sad, but we are taking a lot of experience and also happy memories from this competition,” said Giniaux. “Being second after the short is something we need to learn to deal with, but no one can take the small silver from us. For senior worlds, we are going back to the senior programs now, adding another lift.”
“We have mixed feelings about this free program, but we are happy with what we achieved,” said Kemp. “Of course, it’s also cool to be the best Canadian pair, and skating here at home was a fun experience overall. We are looking forward to going back to work and improve on our triple jumps!”