Russian ladies, Team China command JGP FinalSotskova shocked by victory; Jin jumps from fifth to first; Yu, Jin hold on
The ladies, men's and pairs free skates were held at the 2013 Junior Grand Prix Final in Fukuoka, Japan.
Sotskova spearheads Russian sweep in junior ladies
Maria Sotskova led a Russian sweep of the junior ladies podium, as she was joined by teammates Serafima Sakhanovich and Evgenia Medvedeva. All three were are competing in their first year internationally on the junior circuit.
Skating to Pina, Sotskova landed six triples, including a triple Lutz-triple toe combination. Her spins and footwork all merited a Level 4, and the 13-year-old scored a season's best of 115.46 points, adding to a total of 176.75 points.
"I'm in shock," Sotskova said. "I was so nervous before the competition today, I didn't know what do to with myself. When I hit the first combination Lutz-toe loop, I was very focused on the flip because it doesn't always work in practice. After I hit the last double Axel, I started really to have fun with the performance and at the end I was overwhelmed by emotion."
Sakhanovich's program to "Closed School" featured a triple flip-triple toe, a triple flip-single loop-triple Salchow sequence as well as three more triples and difficult spins. The 13-year-old collected 112.30 points, which added up to 172.86 points overall.
"I felt satisfied with my performance," Sakhanovich said. "I had a bit of a hard time at the beginning, but it went fine after all. I wasn't nervous at all. I had a call from my mother and she encouraged me and told me not to get nervous."
Medvedeva produced six triples in her routine set to "La Califfa" and "Never Gonna Miss You." The Muscovite amassed a total score of 163.68 points.
"I made a small mistake on my combination jump (double Axel-triple toe), so not everything was perfect," Medvedeva said. "This is my first time being in such a big competition, so it was a very good experience for me."
American Polina Edmunds pulled up from fifth to fourth after posting the second-best free skate of the day. She accumulated 161.71 points for the event.
"I was happy that I fought through it," Edmunds said. "It was a good program, and I'm glad I did it well. Today, I really fought for anything, and I didn't want to let anything go after yesterday when I let a few moments slip. I'm happy I did that."
Edmunds is now preparing to transition to the senior level for the U.S. championships.
"I'm going to start training my senior programs," she said. "I had been training them for about two months after my second JGP. About a week and a half ago, I started training my junior programs. I'm excited to train for nationals now."
Alexandra Proklova of Russia finished fifth with 157.77 points, and Angela Wang of the U.S. remained in sixth place, closing with 131.58 points.
"I felt more confident going into it," Wang said. "It was really up and down, but I feel like I fought through the whole thing."
Jin mounts major rally to claim junior men's gold
China's Boyang Jin surged from fifth place to first in the junior men's event, with
Adian Pitkeev of Russia taking the silver and American Nathan Chen collecting the bronze.
Performing to a sequence Charlie Chaplin numbers, Jin completed three quadruple jumps -- a Salchow and two toes -- as well as six clean triples to score a personal best of 150.31 points. Overall, he racked up 218.73 points.
"I am very happy to skate well, including the three difficult jumps (three quads), and my score was very good, too," Jin said. "Compared to last year, this year I wasn't so nervous like last year; that is why I probably did better. I am also skating at a higher level now."
Pitkeev's routine to "Art on Ice" was highlighted by a triple Axel-triple toe, six more triples and two Level 4 spins. The 15-year-old picked up 144.00 points, a new personal best, which added up to 216.24 points.
"For myself, I am very satisfied with my skating," Pitkeev said. "I think I did well, and the two medalists next to me, I was impressed with their skating as well. I worked hard in practice."
Chen landed a triple Axel and seven more triples -- all in the second half -- in his program to "Summertime" and "Chatanooga Choo Choo" by Glenn Miller. The 14-year-old earned 143.09 points and totaled 214.61 points.
"I did as well as I could have," Chen said. "There is room for improvement, always, but overall, I think I did very well. I got my triple Axel, which is a big bonus for me. I did everything basically the way I planned it to go."
Chen found the experience of competing on such a big stage extremely valuable.
"It's like a dream come true," he said. "I've always wanted to come to the Junior Grand Prix Final. I'm in a big stadium with people cheering you on, it's great. This is definitely a big step up for me, and I feel like it will show at nationals."
Overnight leader Keiji Tanaka of Japan slipped to fourth place with 205.71 points.
Russia's Alexander Petrov came in fifth with 198.63 points, and Ryuju Hino of Japan finished sixth with 182.39 points.
Yu, Jin hold on for junior pairs crown
Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin of China claimed the junior pairs title, and Russia's Maria Vigalova and Egor Zakroev overtook teammates Lina Fedorova and Maxim Miroshkin to take the silver medal.
Yu and Jin's program to Phantom of the Opera included a side-by-side triple toe, throw triple Salchow and two Level 4 lifts. However, Yu wobbled on the double Axel-double Axel sequence, and they stumbled on the triple twist. The 2012 world junior silver medalists were awarded 102.42 points and accrued 163.52 points overall.
"We are in first place and that is very good, but we are not satisfied with our performance," Jin said. "There were some errors. My partner has been sick, and we didn't have enough energy in the free skating."
Skating to Giselle, Vigalova and Zakroev turned in a clean performance that was highlighted by a triple twist, double Axel-double toe combination, throw triple loop and flip. The defending Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalists won the free skate portion with 106.50 points and totaled 161.57 points.
"We are of course happy with the performance and the placement," Zakroev said. "We skated really well, not great; there were some small glitches.
"We have been training the (triple) Salchow, but we are not taking the risk yet," he continued. "We are only including elements that are 90-percent consistent into the program. Therefore, the triple Salchow is not yet ready for the competition."
Fedorova and Miroshkin completed a double Axel-double toe, triple twist and two Level 4 lifts in their routine set to Cabaret, but Fedorova under-rotated the triple toe and wobbled on the throw jumps. The defending Junior Grand Prix Final champions picked up 97.97 points and accumulated 156.55 points, a new personal best, overall.
"We did everything we wanted for this competition," Miroshkin said. "We did a triple jump in the program. Actually we did the first three difficult elements and we are very happy about that."
The three other Russian teams finished fourth to sixth: Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (152.01 points), Vasilisa Davankova and Andrei Deputat (151.02 points) and Kamilla Gainetdinova and Ivan Bich (140.65 points).