Ice Network

Creative jumps propel Medvedeva to ladies title

Sakhanovich takes home silver medal; Higuchi finishes in third place
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
The ladies medalists (L-R): Silver medalist Serafima Sakhanovich of Russia, gold medalist Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia and bronze medalist Wakaba Higuchi of Japan. -Klaus-Reinhold Kany

The ladies free skate the 2015 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, was competed at a very high level, with the top five finishers all landing seven triple jumps.

Off-ice friends and on-ice rivals Evgenia Medvedeva and Serafima Sakhanovich, who share the same coaches in Moscow, fought for gold. Medvedeva was the clear victor, performing a near-perfect program.

The 15-year-old opened with an excellent triple flip-triple toe loop combination, followed by a triple Lutz that received an edge call from the technical panel. This was her only mistake. Her spins were very fast and well-centered, and she performed many of her jumps with one or two arms over her head.

"The boys are doing quads, and we also need to try something new," she said about the jumps. "It didn't take too much time to learn them."

Medvedeva's interpretation of "Ein Sommernachtstraum" by Hans-Gunther Wagener and "Tango Tschak" by Hugues Le Bars was good, and her program components averaged 7.4 points. She won the title with 192.97 points.

"I am satisfied with my skate. I made some minor mistakes on jumps, but it didn't hurt my score," Medvedeva said. "I just tried to go out and skate well -- and some things weren't so good -- but everything is good that ends well."

Medvedeva, like her rival Sakhanovich, trains under Eteri Tutberidze and Sergei Dudakov in Moscow. The teen claims she rarely gets nervous at events and simply focuses on the job at hand.

"Obviously, my parents and my coaches help me to deal with the nervousness and, even if it might sound strange, the music," she said. "As soon as I hear the music, I am able to detach from everything and focus."

Asked if she had ever considered adding a quadruple jump to her repertoire, Medvedeva replied, "If I wanted to learn a quad, it would be the Salchow. You can call the triple Salchow my favorite jump, and I can go out and do it with my eyes closed. But I haven't tried a quad yet."

Sakhanovich won silver with 186.15 points, although she placed third in the free skate. Skating to a medley of "Oblivion" by Astor Piazzolla and "I Love You, I Hate You" by Raul di Blasio, she performed seven triple jumps plus two double Axels, the majority of which she performed with one or two arms over her head. Her spins were excellent, but her program components were lower than Medvedeva's.

"I enjoyed how I skated and I had a blast out there," Sakhanovich said. "Last year, I did jumps with [my hands over my head], but not as many. Now, I do almost all of them [with hands over head]. I feel more comfortable, and I can jump higher and easier. Now I can't do the jumps anymore without raising my hand."

Japan's Wakaba Higuchi skated the second-best free and won bronze with 185.57 points. She, too, did the maximum jumps allowed, and they were higher than those of the Russians. Her technical element score was more than four points higher than that of the Russians, but her program components were lower.  

"I am fully satisfied with what I did today. In this competition, I did quite well from the beginning to the end," Higuchi said. "I was nervous, but under this pressure I did what I had to do.

Like Midori Ito and Mao Asada, Higuchi hopes to add a triple Axel to her programs.

"I have been working very hard on the triple Axel," she said. "I just need about a quarter of rotation more to complete it."

Elizabet Tursynbaeva of Kazakhstan, who mainly trains with Brian Orser in Toronto, was fourth. Another Russian, Maria Sotskova, placed fifth with 169.04 points. Japanese skaters Kaori Sakamoto and Yuka Nagai were sixth and seventh, respectively.   

Karen Chen, who trains in Riverside, California, with Tammy Gambill, finished eighth with 157.30 points. Skating to "The Godfather Suite" by Carmine Coppola and Nino Rota, she opened with an excellent triple Lutz-triple toe loop and a good triple flip. Two other triples followed, but in the second half of the program, she fell on a downgraded triple Salchow and a double Axel. Her spins were excellent.

"I felt I enjoyed the moment and I just attacked everything," Chen said. "My free program today was much better and more normal than the short program yesterday. ...On two jumps, I lost a bit of concentration. They are normally easy for me. But I did do my hard and difficult elements, and I am happy about that."

The 15-year-old Chen, who won bronze behind Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold at the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, added that she wanted to compete on the senior Grand Prix circuit next season.

Team USA's Tyler Pierce struggled with many jumps and ended up 19th with 118.21 points.

The combined finish of Chen and Pierce earned two spots for U.S. ladies at the 2016 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Hungary.