2023 World Junior Figure Skating Championships
Katerina Mrazkova and Daniel Mrazek of the Czech Republic took a narrow lead at the 2023 World Junior Figure Skating Championships on Friday. Hannah Lim and Ye Quan of South Korea are very close behind by just 0.11 points, while Great Britain’s Great Britain’s Phebe Bekker and James Hernandez are sitting in third.
Mrazkova and Mrazek redeemed themselves after a subpar and fourth-place rhythm dance at the 2022-23 Junior Grand Prix (JGP) Final. This time, no mistakes were made by the team, who trains in Italy under Matteo Zanni. Their fiery tango and paso doble routine featured good level-four Argentine tango patterns in which all key points were met. Her twizzles were graded a level three, while his were a level four, and the rotational lift also received a level four. All elements were rewarded with positive grades of execution (GOE) throughout, and the 2022-23 JGP Final bronze medalists scored 71.19 points.
“It was better than at the JGF Final,” noted Mrazek, adding that the current placement doesn’t matter. “There were some mistakes, but it was still great performance, so we’re happy. We know we can do better, so we aren’t pleased with our performance. We will just do the [free dance] that we usually do and try to fight.”
Mrazkova cut her skirt about 10cm after the stumble in Torino.
“We of course want to achieve the best possible result here!” she said. “We know that we can do better, but we did a kind of safe program, which is good! We just wanted to do what we were practicing and to enjoy the program, and that’s it.”
Lim and Quan, who train in Montreal, put out strong and dramatic routine to “Milonga,” receiving high levels and quality scores across the board. All elements were graded a level four with the exception of the first pattern, which was a level two. The twizzles and midline steps were very strong, and received many high GOEs, as did the rotational lift. The 2022-23 JGP Final silver medalist scored a new personal best of 71.08, right on the heels of the leaders.
“We are incredibly happy with our skate and score!” said Lim. “We were aiming for a personal best, but didn’t expect to score over 70. It makes us super happy! We aim for the podium here. We connected really well, and we performed to the audience and towards each, other as well.”
“I’m also very happy that the hard work we put in our technical parts, for instance the step sequence and pattern dance, paid off. We are really happy we got our levels today!”
The team was asked if they had a goal, point-wise, and Quan said they wanted to beat their personal best score.
“This year, our expectations rose for sure,” said Lim, adding they were happy to be in this position right now. “Last year, it was more to gain experience. Now, we are putting more pressure on ourselves. For the free dance, we’ll think about being in character and connecting with each other through a different way and a different story.
Bekker and Hernandez also picked up a personal best score (68.89) after putting out an intense flamenco and tango routine. The only minor bobble came at the end, when Bekker had a slight break in her twizzles, which were graded a level three, four for him. The midline steps were strong, level three for her and four for him, and earned high GOEs, as did the level-four rotational lift. The pattern steps received a level three and four, respectively, with the latter having all key points met.
“We are overjoyed!” said Bekker. “The whole atmosphere felt great already during the warm up, and we could go all out! The scores are amazing! We felt that we had such a score in us, and finally we achieved it! We’re happy with the way that we competed together today and hoping that we can replicate that tomorrow. ”
“For such an intense program, it’s actually so much fun to skate,” said Hernandez. “We have these little moments kind of scattered throughout where we catch each others’ eyes, yes, it’s intense, but we get energy from each other in those moments. Today, we found those moments, we connected. We really had a great time from beginning to end, and were really present, so yes, we’re super happy!”
“We have no placement goals for this competition,” he added. “We just want to give our best and see where that takes us!”
Bekker feels the points they received this season have been “stagnant” and said they can do better.
“Today was the first time this year that we laid everything out on the table and got the points that we felt we deserved,” she said. “Last year was our first Junior Worlds as a team and we came 10th. We have spent all year training some great programs, working hard and trusting our coaches, and it’s been a really fun year. This is a trust-process moment, and to find ourselves in this position is just surreal. It felt well-deserved.”
“Ultimately, we’re judged on not what on we do in training, but on what we do when we come here,” acknowledged Hernandez. “We knew we wanted to break out of it here, and we have, so that’s what we’re happy about.”
Canada’s Nadiia Bashynska and Peter Beaumont had a minor bobble in the first pattern steps, which ultimately received a level one. The second pattern was scored a level two. However, the midline steps and twizzles were very good and were rewarded a level four, as was the final rotational lift. They sit in fourth with 68.00 points, and will have to regroup and fight in the free dance.
“We skated for ourselves and for the audience here and that felt good,” said Bashynska. “We had a little stumble, so we know where the points come from. Maybe this result takes some pressure from us now. We are sure we will come back strong in the free dance. After the great results this season, and this being our last junior competition, we definitely feel pressure from outside, but also from ourselves.”
The ice dance teams who placed fifth through seventh, also picked up new personal bests.
“We are very happy with how it went today,” said Fradji. “Our goal here is the top 10. It was a bit hard as we felt the altitude and I had a hard time with the jetlag.”
“Compared to last year, we felt a little more pressure as there are more couples here,” she added. “Skating in the last group was exciting and motivating, but also added pressure.”
Grimm and Savitskiy feel they were a bit better at the Bavarian Open where they took gold earlier last month.
“Considering we both were recently sick, it went pretty well,” said Savitskiy of their performance today. “We would of course like to perform our best here and achieve a similar result as last season (5th) or maybe better.”