Ice Network

USA's Hawayek, Baker cook up dance gold in Sofia

Yanovskaia, Mozgov snag silver; McNamara, Carpenter settle into fourth
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Coming away with the gold at junior worlds was the top goal for Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker this season. -Klaus-Reinhold Kany

At the 2014 World Junior Figure Skating Championships on Friday, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker became the seventh U.S. team in history to win the world junior ice dance crown.

Hawayek and Baker, who train at the Detroit Skating Club (DSC) under a coaching team headed by Pasquale Camerlengo and Angelika Krylova, follow in the footsteps of Jessica Joseph and Charles Butler (1998), Jamie Silverstein and Justin Pekarek (1999), Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto (2002), Morgan Matthews and Max Zavozin (2005), Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates (in Sofia in 2008) and Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein (in Sofia in 2009).

The U.S. junior champions took a three-point lead after the short dance, which they needed when Russians Anna Yanovskaia and Sergei Mozgov -- who had defeated them by 13 points at the Junior Grand Prix Final -- outscored them by a bit less than a point in the free dance. The two top teams showed contrasting styles: The Americans were intricate storytellers, while the Russians exuded sheer power.

Skating to the soundtrack of Amélie, Hawayek and Baker opened with a curve lift, where Baker impressed with deep, clean edges. Their twizzle sequence was fast, their steps, complex and interesting. Five of their elements gained Level 4, with the two step sequences rating Level 3, and they earned a personal-best 90.39 points. They placed first overall with 157.12 points, also a new high.

"From the beginning of the season, we've said the junior world gold medal is our goal," Hawayek, 17, said. "I think we worked the hardest this season, and we believed the entire season we could do it, and this competition just shows that."

"As for our skate today, we're very pleased," Baker, 20, said. "We knew the pressure was on, but we handled it quite well."

Asked whether they will compete as seniors next season, Hawayek replied, "There are a lot of changes after the Olympic season because it is the end of a cycle. We just have to discuss with our coaches what is best for us moving forward."

Yanovskaia and Mozgov performed a fiery program to Alessandro Safina's "Il Mirtodella Rosa" to win silver with 155.16 points. They gained the same levels as the Americans and also scored high grades of execution (GOEs) from the judges.

In their last trip to junior worlds in 2012, the couple was fourth.

"We are very pleased with our day; it was very successful for us," Yanovskaia said. "Right now, we are just happy that we finally reached the podium. We want to stay at the junior level next season."

Canadians Madeline Edwards and Zhao Kai Pang, who train in the Vancouver school of Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe, moved up from fifth after the short dance to take a surprising bronze with 139.65 points. Skating to selections from Les Misérables, they showed good speed and clean elements.

"We could not be more pleased to be up here with two amazing teams," Edwards said. "Everyone put out great performances."

U.S. junior silver medalists Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter, who train at the Wheaton Ice Skating Academy (WISA) in Rockville, Md., were fifth in the free dance and fourth overall with 138.53 points. They had placed third in the short dance.

Interpreting the soundtrack of Sherlock Holmes, they had a strong dance rhythm and quite spectacular elements. The lifts and spin gained Level 4, while the step sequences rated Levels 3 and 2. One extended (too long) lift cost them a point, but it would not have changed the final result. 

"We are happy with our performance today and with the result," McNamara said. "We certainly would have liked to stay in third place, but our personal goal was more to improve from our last competition, which we did, so we are not disappointed. We will stay in juniors next season."

Another WISA team, Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons, dropped from fourth after the short dance to eighth overall with 131.82 points.

Skating to the New Moon soundtrack and Bad Style's "Time Back," they showed good speed and harmony. Four elements gained Level 4, with the step sequences rating Level 2 and the twizzle sequence Level 3. The little problems they had were hardly visible, but the judges did not award them too many plus marks for their elements. One lift was too long, and the one-point deduction cost them a place.

"For what we skated, the result is OK," Rachel said. "We had a couple of wobbles in the footwork and on the lifts. It was not a great skate today. I wish we would have done better, but we will learn from our mistakes and do better next time."

Rachel added that she and her brother enjoyed their first junior worlds experience.

"We take home the impression that all skaters were very nice to each other, and there was a really good atmosphere," she said.

New rules will change the look of ice dance next season

Gilles Vandenbroeck, technical controller of the ice dance event and member of the ISU dance committee, held a meeting to inform interested coaches, skaters and judges about changes in the ice dance rules for the 2014-15 season. An official ISU communication is forthcoming soon.  

The required pattern dance in the senior short dance is the Paso Doble, but only one section of the compulsory must be done. Teams must also execute creative steps to the Paso Doble rhythm that the technical panel will grade according to the same key points used to grade the pattern dance section.

Junior dance teams must include two sections of the Silver Samba pattern dance in their short dances next season. This is proving controversial, as many coaches feel the sections take up too much time and do not leave room for the choreography of the rest of the program.

In both the junior and senior free dance, the number of lifts will be reduced by one in order to leave more time and energy for dancing and choreography. In addition, teams may choose whether to do a choreographed lift, as they did this season, or a "choreographic spin movement," which is new for the 2014-15 season.

Baker -- the son of four-time British ice dance champion Sharon Jones -- is in favor of the new rules.

"I was brought up [with] more vintage-style ice dance, not 'Look at me, how strong I am, I throw my partner around like a doll,'" he said. "That's more pairs. I like to see the dance in ice dance.

"I wish they could incorporate dancing a little more and not so much technique," he continued. "It's so hard with the quickstep this year to really show the style of a quickstep because we have to do so many technical things and we can't really allow the dance to flow as it was created. It's hard to do two things at once."