The Men’s competition at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships was the most open with no real top favorite. USA’s Richard Dornbush, who had won the Junior Final with strong performances, qualified for the World Championships and none of last year’s medalists had returned.
In the end, it was USA’s Keegan Messing who came out on top today, followed by Artur Dmitriev of Russian and Canada’s Andrei Rogozine. While Messing has a lead of 3.67 points over Dmitriev, the skaters ranked second through fifth are separated by less than two points, and a lot still can happen in the free skating on Saturday. Overall it was a good event with only four falls in the 30 programs.
Performing to Robin Hood, Messing hit a triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe, the required triple loop out of footwork, and produced fast spins with difficult positions. The change sit spin garnered a level four, while the other two spins and the step sequence a level three. The American was very dynamic and his jumps were high. The 19-year-old scored 72.58 points, a new seasons best.
“I just went out to have fun, to leave the ice with no regrets,” Messing said. “After every element, my energy increased and and increased, and I left the ice feeling like I’m on top of the world. I couldn’t have felt any better.”
“This time (in the free skating), I would very much like to skate clean, go out there with the same mentality like in the short program, have some fun, skate clean,” he added.
“Hopefully I can land my quad again in competition,” Messing added when asked what he wants to do in order to stay in the top three after failing to do so last season at Junior Worlds. Compared to last year, he felt that he has grown in overall strength, carriage, skating skills and performance-wise. Messing also revealed that he broke a skate lace before he got on to the ice.
“So I just had to tie it together before I stepped on the ice, but other than that it has been going really well,” he explained. “I felt really confident for this competition.”
Dmitriev’s powerful performance to Nostradamus featured a big triple Axel, a triple Lutz-triple toe (he was a little off balance on the toe), triple loop, and he had the same levels for his spins and steps as Messing. With 68.91 points, the Russian improved his seasons best by 8.40 points.
“Today I went out and tried my best, and everything worked out very well,” the 18-year-old said at the post event press conference. “This is why I sit here right now.”
Dmitriev’s heel had come loose in the preliminary round on Monday, and has been fixed and is not bothering him anymore. Unlike Messing and Rogozine, he had to skate in the preliminary round, but felt ok about it.
“On the one hand it was an advantage (to skate in the preliminary round), because I was not so scared to go out on the ice for the short program,” Dmitriev explained. “I’m used to the ice. On the other hand, I was a little more tired than the other guys, but overall I think it was good to skate before the competition.”
Rogozine completed a triple Axel, triple flip-triple toe, triple loop, and level-three spins in his routine to a modern arrangement of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor. He, too, achieved a new seasons best with 67.27 points.
“I was also trying my best,” the Russian-born Canadian said. “In practice before this competition, my short wasn’t going very well every day. But I just went out there and did it and after my performance I had a season’s best. At Nationals this year, I didn’t do so well, and after that I kind of kicked myself and started to train harder.”
Alexander Majorov had chosen a fun number to Austin Powers and pulled off a triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe, but did a three-turn out of his triple loop. The Russian-born Swede got a level four for two spins and a level three for the other one and the footwork to post a season’s best of 67.12 points. His previous seasons best was 62.67 points. He finished fourth.
USA’s Max Aaron’s program to “Tango de Roxanne” included a triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe, triple loop and had a level four for the combo spin and a level three for the sit spin and the step sequence. He slightly surpassed his seasons best with 66.96 points and is currently sitting in fifth place.
“I thought it went very well,” the U.S. Junior Champion said. “I was happy with the things that I’ve done. I stayed committed with every single jump and spin and performed it the best I can. This was my last event of the year, so I wanted do it the best I can.”
Keiji Tanaka of Japan had to skate in the second warm up group. The Japanese followed up on his win in the preliminary round with another clean performance. Performing to Violentango by Astor Piazzolla, he landed the first triple Axel of the day, a triple flip-triple toe combo, and the required triple loop. His change foot sit spin was a level four, but the camel spin didn’t have many features and merited just a level one. The 16-year-old maintained good speed throughout, but didn’t have a strong connection to his music. With a score of 64.06 points, Tanaka improved his seasons best by 5.78 points.
“As this is my first major competition, I was terribly nervous,” admitted Tanaka. “I wanted to get into the last warm up group for the free skating so much in order to stay competitive. Considering how nervous I was, I’m pleased with my performance.”
USA’s Jason Brown opened his Spanish themed program to Baliwood with a high double Axel, followed by a triple Lutz-triple toe and a triple loop. His spins were all fast and well centered, plus he showed off his flexibility in the positions to pick up a level four for all of them. He earned a new seasons best of 62.64 points.
Han Yan of China skated a lively program to Cotton Club, but he doesn’t have a triple Axel yet and stepped out of the triple loop to place eighth with 60.89 points.