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Yu and Jin, Sotskova, Tanaka take JGP Final shorts

Chen pulls into third; Edmunds, Wang land fifth, sixth, respectively
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Coming out on top was Russia's Maria Sotskova, who tallied 61.29 points for her 'Four Seasons' short. -Getty Images

The 2013 Junior Grand Prix Final kicked off Thursday in Fukuoka, Japan, with the junior ladies, junior men's and junior pairs short programs, respectively.

Sotskova steals show in junior ladies short

Maria Sotskova of Russia grabbed the lead in the junior ladies short program, followed by teammates Serafima Sakhanovich and Evgenia Medvedeva.

"I think I did well today, and I did everything I can do," said the 13-year-old Sotskova, who amassed 61.29 points in her winning segment. "I treat this competition as any other competition. There are good coaches in Russia who are preparing us very well, and the girls in Russia are strong and talented."

Sakhanovich, also 13, produced a triple flip-triple toe, triple loop and Level 4 spins and footwork in her routine to "Don't Deny When You Are In Love" by Mark Minkov to score 60.56 points, a new personal best.

"I skated well," Sakhanovich said. "It was not extraordinary, like at home. This competition is similar to Russian nationals; there are many Russian skaters, and I am rooting for all of them."

Medvedeva's program to "Ballet Russe" featured a double Axel, triple flip-triple toe and triple loop, but two spins were graded as Level 3's. The Muscovite picked up 58.75 points.

"I had an injury; my left foot is hurting," Medvedeva said. "I couldn't train so much before coming here, but when I arrived, I felt much better and confident. The ice here is so good, it is fast it makes a nice sound.

"I think the elements were OK, but the main problem for me are the spins," she continued. "I have weak spins. We'll work on that."

Alexandra Proklova, also of Russia, placed fourth with 51.27 points, ahead of Americans Polina Edmunds (48.20 points) and Angela Wang (44.69 points).

Edmunds, the reigning U.S. junior champion, knows she could have skated better.

"I am not happy with [my short program]," Edmunds said. "It wasn't my best. I didn't trust myself. I want to trust myself and give a good, strong performance."

Wang also acknowledged she did not skate up to her full potential.

"The program was very disappointing," Wang said. "I have been training much better than this and I wanted to show that today. I felt good going into the program and have had good practices. I think I tensed up when I got out there."

Still, Edmunds is relishing the chance to compete on the highest stage.

"This is an amazing experience and such an honor," Edmunds said. "The fans are amazing here in Japan."

Tanaka takes junior men's short

Japan's Keiji Tanaka edged out Adian Pitkeev of Russia for the lead in the junior men's short program, and American Nathan Chen came in third.

Tanaka's program to "Instinct Rhapsody" included a triple Axel, triple flip-triple toe, triple loop and two Level 4 spins. He earned 73.63 points and set a new personal best.

"For my short program, I was quite nervous, but throughout the season I saw a good flow in my short program and I thought if I have the confidence, I can go through," Tanaka said. "I'm very happy that the Grand Prix Final is taking place in Japan. I don't think I have so many opportunities to skate in such a major international in Japan. I still have to do the free skating and I hope to do my best."

Pitkeev landed a triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe, triple loop and collected a Level 4 on all three spins in his routine to "At Voland's Ball" by Igor Korniliuk. He scored 72.24, a personal best as well.

"I was very nervous today, but I am happy with today's performance," Pitkeev said. "This is my first time skating in a big competition, so I was very nervous. I just kept telling myself I will do well today, and my coach told me to do what I do every day at practice."

Chen hit a triple Axel but fell on the back end of his triple Lutz-triple toe combination. He received 71.52 points.

"Obviously, I missed one jump, so that set me back a little bit," Chen said. "But overall, I think it went pretty well."

Alexander Petrov of Russia finished fourth with 70.92 points, followed by China's Boyang Jin at 68.42 points and Japan's Ryuju Hino with 58.56 points.

Yu, Jin claim advantage in junior pairs competition

Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin of China took the junior pairs short program, as Russians Lina Fedorova and Maxim Miroshkin landed second and Maria Vigalova and Egor Zakroev, also from Russia, came in third.

Yu and Jin's program to "Meditation" by Jules Massenet was highlighted by a double Axel, a high double twist, throw triple toe loop and Level 4 toe lasso. The 2012 world junior silver medalists scored 61.10 points.

"It was quite good, but tomorrow's free skating is even more important," Jin said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to show our level.

"We would be happy if we just skate our best tomorrow," he continued. "The result is important, but to us it is more important to have done our best and to be satisfied with our performance."

Performing to "Clowns" by Alfred Schnittke, Fedorova and Miroshkin produced a Level 4 double twist, double Axel and throw triple toe, but their death spiral merited only a Level 2. The defending Junior Grand Prix Final champions picked up 58.58 points, a new season's-best score.

"We had small mistakes, but it wasn't that bad," Miroshkin said. "Our coach said, 'Keep it calm and smooth.' It wasn't easy. Each competition is different. We will keep gaining experience."

Vigalova and Zakroev landed the double twist, double Axel and throw triple toe as well in their program to "Capone" by Ronan Hardiman to earn 55.07 points.

"Overall, it was good, not a 100 percent," Zakroev said. "We could do better, and some elements didn't get the level we wanted. We worked on some things, especially the components, and we improved in this aspect."

Three more Russian teams finished between fourth and sixth: Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (54.91 points), Vasilisa Davankova and Andrei Deputat (54.82 points) and Kamilla Gainetdinova and Ivan Bich (48.40 points).

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