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2013 World Junior Championships

With 35 Couples, Short Dance Not Short Enough

 by Alexandra Stevenson


Quotable

Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS), 1st after the Short Dance

Stepanova: It is always a great feeling when you are winning and reach your goals. This makes us really happy. Now we have the free dance left and we have to focus and skate as well as we can do it in practice. (on what they plan to do with their short dance music and program since this was the last competitive performance of the program) We remember all our programs and we never really totally forgot about them. Some of them went into exhibition programs, but I don’t know yet about this one. But this is a dance that we really like and it suits us well. (on how difficult it is to put together a Short Dance at the beginning of the season) When we start at the beginning of the season working on the program and see what we need to do it is hard. Then we start training it and when something doesn’t work there is a moment when we think it is so hard and are we doing the right thing. (On the highlights of the season and biggest challenge so far) Probably now we are at the peak of our preparation and we learned from our mistakes in previous competitions and corrected them. What the hardest moment I don’t even know, but last year we were much more nervous. (On achieving a new personal best at the JGP in Milan and now again) We didn’t really think about that we got a personal best here before, but maybe Milan is a lucky place for us. Today my parents and relatives came to support us. My grandmother and my sister are living here in Italy. My grandmother has been living here for five years in a small town not far from Milan and my sister moved here not a long time ago. Their support really helped us.

Gabriella Papadakis/Guilleaume Cizeron (FRA), 2nd after the Short Dance

Cizeron: It was our seasons best we did the quite well technically in the dance. We’ll do our best the day after tomorrow to perform our free dance without any mistakes. (on how difficult it is to put together a Short Dance at the beginning of the season) At the beginning of the season we try to stick as close to the rules as we can. Later, it is mostly the task of our coach to know if we are within the rules or not.

Papadakis: (on what they plan to do with their short dance music and program since this was the last competitive performance of the program) We cannot keep this dance for next season, maybe we’ll use it for an exhibition one day but it is not certain. We’ll have fond memories of this program as we finished with a strong performance of it and we’ll move on to the next season. (On the highlights of the season and biggest challenge so far) The season started very well when we won our first Grand Prix and it continued like that, we went to the (Junior Grand Prix) Final and finished second. The hard moment is probably that we weren’t really prepared for that. We are doing a lot better than last year and there is a certain pressure to deal with.

Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton (USA), 3rd after the Short Dance

Eaton: We feel great with our performance for the short dance and we are excited for Friday’s free program to really heave a strong performance and achieve our goal for the season. (on how difficult it is to put together a Short Dance at the beginning of the season) At the beginning of our season it takes a lot more planning of the short program compared to for the free program. It takes a lot more strategy trying to figure out where to place certain elements, how to do it, what works best for you. I definitely think that every team goes through the procedure trying to figure out what needs to go where and how it needs to be performed.  It is definitely an added level of difficulty trying to plan out the proper short dance. (On the highlights of the season and biggest challenge so far) I think for Alex and I definitely the high point of the season was to qualify for the Final for the second time and to qualify for Junior Worlds. We have a very successful season, we had a gold medal in both of our Junior Grand Prix, it’s just been a train ride of experiences, all team-building for the future.

Aldridge: (on what they plan to do with their short dance music and program since this was the last competitive performance of the program) Because we move up to senior next year I don’t think we’ll be able to use this music again. I think we’ll put this one in the books and that’s about it.

(28 February 2013)

This year’s championships got underway at 11:45 am with the first five of the 35 ice couples from 26 countries warming up for the Short Dance. The morning sun soon deteriorated to rain and cold and there were only a splattering of paid attendees in the Agora. However all three “small medal” winners, said attendance is never an issue.

A LOT of Level 1s were given by the Technical Panel, which comprised former British champion Marika Humphreys-Baranova, and her assistant, Canadian Rock LeMay, who were overseen by the Technical Controller, Russian Alla Shekhovtsova. However, almost everyone got Level 4 for their lift. Hal Marron and Jean Senft were the American and Canadian judges.

1.SD 64.65 (34.71+29.94) Last year’s silver medalists, Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin, the Russian Junior champions, skated first in the seventh and last group of five ice dance couples, right after the third ice resurfacing. They gave a dazzling showing, swirling over the ice for their Blues and Swing with great speed and momentum control while outwardly emoting as if they didn’t have a worry in the world.

She was dressed in a pink, sleeveless creation; he sported a royal blue open jacket.

They opened with excellent Level 4 synchronized twizzles which earned one maximum +3 Grade of Execution, and one +1. The other seven judges punched in +2. Their “Opposite Side” Blues pattern, which had amazingly deep edges, was also awarded Level 4 by the Technical Panel, as was their straight line lift with him in a spread-eagle position and she snaking around his body ending up upside down with her blond pony- tail almost sweeping the ice. Their “Judges’ side” Blues was “only” Level 3 as was their non-touching Circular step sequence. Their components ranged from 7.00 to 7.75.

The now 17-year old Stepanova moved from St. Petersburg to Moscow in 2006 to take up ice dance and was eventually teamed up with Bukin, who is 19. After receiving her gold medal for winning this section, she said, “It is always a great feeling when you are winning and reach your goals. This makes us really happy. Now we have the Free Dance and we have to focus and skate as well as we do in practice. This was our last competitive performance of this routine. We remember all of our programs and we never really totally forget about them. Some of them went into exhibition routines. I don’t know yet about this routine. It is a dance we really like and it suits us well.

“When we start at the beginning of the season working on a program, and see what we need to do, it is hard! Sometimes something doesn’t work. Sometimes we wonder if we are doing the right thing and going in the right direction. We learn from our mistakes in previous competitions, and correct them. Last year we were much more nervous than we are now.”

In 2011, they won a Junior Grand Prix in Milan with a personal best, and on Wednesday they also set a personal best. Reflecting on this, Stepanova said, “Maybe Milan is a lucky place for us. Today, my parents and other relatives came to support us. My grandmother and my sister live here. My grandmother has been living in a small town not far from Milan for five years and my sister moved here not long ago. Their support really helped us.”

2.SD 61.58 (32.21+29.37) Gabriele Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron from France, skated a dynamic routine 30th, immediately preceding the Russians, though they were separated by an ice resurface. Papadakis, who is 17, & Cizeron, 18, have made significant improvement this season. This is their fourth World Junior Championship and they previously finished 22nd, 12th and 5th. They used the music, “Minnie, the Moocher” for their Blues and “The Dirty Boogie”. She wore pink, and he had on a loose open jacket. At the end he did a split which delighted the small audience.

They earned the maximum Level 4 for their synchronized twizzles and straight line lift, which they choose to do first and last of the five required elements. Their Blues sequence on the Opposite Side to the Judges was deemed Level 3 but the one close to the judges was only Level 2. Their mid-line steps were Level 3. Their element score was 2.50 lower than the leaders, but their components, which included two 8.00s, the only ones in the competition, were only, overall, 0.57 of a point lower than the Russians.

Cizeron was delighted, “It was our season’s best (score). At the beginning of the season, we are cautious. We try to stick as close to the rules as possible. Later, we try to develop our performance and it is up to our coach (Muriel Zazoui) to find out what is permissible and what is not.”

Papadakis said, “We cannot keep this dance for next season. But we’ll have fond memories of it, especially since we finished with a strong performance. Maybe, we’ll use it as an exhibition, but that isn’t certain. We did a lot better than last year, but that makes a certain pressure we have to deal with.”

3.SD 56.89 (28.99+29.99) Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton, USA, performed to the classic, “Pennsylvania 6-5000” by Brian Setzer along with “Down Home Blues” by Gene Harris. She was in a red, knee length dress with white polka dots. He had on suspenders. They opened with their Midline Non-touching steps, which received “only” Level 2. Their synchronized twizzles, however, were the maximum Level 4. They, as did the steps, were awarded an extra +0.71 Grade of Execution from the judging panel.

Their “Opposite” side Blues was deemed Level 3 but the Blues nearest the judges was Level 3 and their rotation lift was rewarded with Level 4. The element score was 3.22 behind the French duo and the components were 1.47 points lower. Three of the nine judges gave component marks for all five categories in the sixes, which has opened up a significant gap between third and second places. The twice U.S. junior champions will not be eligible for next season’s junior internationals because he will be 21 on March 26.

Eaton seemed upbeat in the small medals press conference, saying, “We feel great with our performance for the Short Dance and we are excited for Friday’s Free program to really heave a strong performance and achieve the goal for the season. At the beginning of our season, it takes a lot more planning of the Short Program compared to the Free. It takes a lot more strategic to figure out where to place certain elements, how to do it, what works best for you. I definitely think that every team goes through the procedure trying to figure out what needs to go where and how it needs to be performed. It is definitely an added level of difficulty trying to plan out the proper short dance.”

Asked about the highlights of the season and the biggest and their biggest challenge, he said, “I think for Alex and I, definitely the high point was to qualify for the Final for the second time and then qualify for Junior Worlds. We have had a very successful season. We had a gold medal in both of our Grand Prix. It’s just been a train ride off experiences – all team-building for the future.”

Asked about their plans for the Short Dance routine, Aldridge explained there was none. “Because we move up to senior next season, I don’t think we’ll be able to use this music again. I think we’ll put this one in the books and that’s about it.”

4.SD 55.88 (30.58+25.30) Mackenzie Bent & Garrett MacKeen, the Canadian second ranked Juniors, who are 15 and 19, skated last, wrapping up the Short Dance (five hours after this portion began!) with a graceful performance to “History is Made at Night” by Marc Shaiman, and Swing to “I Never Met a Wolf who Didn’t Love”. They began with a Level 3 Blues on the Judges’ side following by a Level 4 Blues on the opposite side. Their twizzles were also Level 4 but their Midline Non-Touching steps were only Level 2. Their final move, a curve lift was Level 4. Their technical score was 1.59 above that of Aldridge & Eaton, but their components were 2.60 lower so that overall there is a gap of only 1.01.

They train in Scarborough with Carol & Jon Lane and Juris Razgulajevs. They have been fourth and second in the past two Canadian junior championships and this was their first Junior Worlds. She wore a sleeveless white, knee-length dress. He was in a light blue, short-sleeved top.

5.SD 55.82 (30.57+25.25) Valeria Zenkova & Valerie Sinitsin, Russia, are shadowing the Canadians, standing only 0.06 of a point lower. They skated to Blues to “Your Heart is as Black as Night” and Swing to “Swing, Brother, Swing”. They appeared in black with Zenkova in a sexy outfit which exposed her sides and a lot of her back. They are the current Russian Junior champions, but, like Aldridge & Eaton, they will not be eligible for junior competition next season because he ages out.

Zenkova & Sinitsin skated immediately prior to Aldridge & Eaton, and showed off a routine that in some ways was superior and in others not. They earned Level 4 for their “Judges’ side Blues”, their twizzles and their rotational lift, along with a Level 3 for the “Other side” Blues and a Level 2 for their Non-touching steps which put them 1.58 points ahead of Aldridge & Eaton technically. But their components were 2.63 points lower.

6.SD 54.92 (29.36+25.56) Madeline Edwards & Zhao Kai Pang, the current Canadian Junior champions who are 16 & 17, suffered a little by having to skate immediately following Stepanova & Bukin but they did a good job to their music, “Why Don’t You Do Right?” and “Mr. Pinstripe Suit” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.” The white straps on his boots were a nice touch giving the impression of spats from that long ago era.

They are trained by Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe performed in Burnaby near Vancouver. They received Level 4 for their straight line lift and their twizzles, Level 3 for their first Blues sequence and Level 2 for the second one and for the Non-touching Steps.

7.SD 52.19 (28.21+23.98) Anna Nagornyuk & Viktor Kovalenko, Uzbekistan, were 12th in this event last year so they were pleased with their standing in this, their last year of Junior eligibility. They performed to Elvis Presley numbers, the Blues to “One Night”, getting Level 3 for both sequences, and jive to “Long Tall Sally” which earned them Level 4 for their straight line lift and twizzles, and Level 2 for their Non-touching steps.

8.SD 51.80 (28.79+23.01) Lorraine McNamara& Quinn Carpenter, USA, presented a very interesting showing as Zombies, an idea they got from watching the television show, “So, You Think You Can Dance?” Skating 24th, they began with some pretty spectacular head shaking but they had a problem with their first element, the Midline Non-touching Steps, and the Technical Panel gave their thumbs down with only Level 1. The skaters put the problem down to “a bit of nerves”.

But the youngsters – she turned 14 on February 18, and he was 17 on February 24 - recovered quickly and received the maximum Level 4 for the next three elements, their rotational lift, the synchronized twizzles and their first Blues sequence. The second Blues sequence was Level 3. Their element score was higher than the Uzbeks above them, but their components were under the Russians who lie one place lower than them.

Carpenter said, “Hip Hop is very different music and the two categories of swing are not really used in skating. Almost a year ago, competing in this event seemed unbelievable. This is a dream coming true. we tried to stay more in the moment.”

9.SD 50.64 (24.85+25.79) Evgenia Kosigina & Nikolai Moroshkin, Russia

10.SD 50.59 (25.86+24.73) Shari Koch & Christian Nuchtern, Germany.

11.SP 49.63 (26.44+23.19) Kaitlyn Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker skated 21st of the 35 couples, first after the second resurfacing and raised the standard to a higher level. The runners-up for the U.S. Junior title, Hawayek, 16, and Baker, 19, who train at the Detroit FSC, performed their Blues to “Minnie, the Moocher” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Swing to The Brian Setzer Orchestra performing “Gimme Some Rhythm Daddy”.

Their first sequence of the Blues Pattern Dance earned the maximum Level 4, as did the following element, their curve lift. However, they had a problem with their second Blues sequence which was saddled with Level 1. Getting their mojo back, they earned Level 4 for their twizzles but the Non-touching steps were Level 2.

An interesting showing was given by the South Koreans, Rebeka Kim & Kirill Minov, who lie 17th immediately behind the Japanese entry. Minov is Russian and her country arranged for her to go to Moscow where they are trained by Irina Zhuk and Alexander Svinin. They are no other South Korean ice dancers or pairs of any note-worthy standard. However, the Association wants Olympic champion Yu Na Kim to be able to take part in the team competition making its debut in next year’s Olympics. That isn’t possible unless a country fields entries in at least three of the four categories.

One very disappointed couple was Estonia’s Johanna Allik & her Brooklyn born partner, Paul Michael Bellantuono, who train at the Detroit FSC with Angelika Krylova. They placed 31st and only the top 20 make the cut.

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