Alexandrovskaya, Windsor claim historic titlePair wins first world junior gold for Australia; Zagitova takes ladies lead
Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor won a historic gold in pairs for Australia and Alina Zagitova outclassed the competition in the ladies short program Friday at the 2017 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.
Alexandrovskaya and Windsor carved their place in Australian figure skating history when they became the first skaters from their country to win a world junior title. Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii of Russia corralled the silver medal, while the bronze went to China's Yumeng Gao and Zhong Xie.
The Australians completed a triple twist, triple salchow, triple toe-double toe-double toe combination and throw triple flip during their free skate, which was set to music from the W.E. soundtrack. Their only error came when Alexandrovskaya fell on the throw triple salchow. Despite that mishap, the Junior Grand Prix finalists achieved a new personal-best score of 104.16 points to rank second in the free skate, while their overall total of 163.98 points was enough to move them up from third to first in the final standings.
"It's still slowly sinking in," Windsor said. "It's overwhelming for both of us. We came in this competition very confident, in our training and coaches. In the performance, we just took one element at a time and just tried to focus. We made a little mistake, but in the end it sort of worked out for us."
Boikova and Kozlovskii -- who held less than a two-point lead following the short program -- landed a triple salchow, triple toe-double toe-double toe and triple twist while receiving Level 4 grading for their lifts and spins. Boikova stepped out of the throw triple salchow and two-footed the throw triple loop, which cost the pair in the final standings. The mishap left the JGP Final bronze medalists with 161.93 points overall, including 100.66 for their free skate.
"We wanted to skate better than that obviously, and we made some errors," Kozlovskii said. "But what happened, happened. We know that we have a lot of work ahead of us, and we are confident that we can be more successful next time."
Gao and Xie's entertaining program to Neil Diamond's "Crunchy Granola Suite" featured a triple twist, throw triple toe and throw triple salchow, as well as three Level 4 elements. The Chinese team achieved a personal-best score of 101.12 points for the free skate but dropped from second to third in the final standings with 161.09 points.
"We are pretty satisfied with today's performance," Xie said. "I made a mistake on the jump, and I am not too satisfied with myself."
Amina Atakhanova and Ilia Spiridonov of Russia won the free skate portion of the event with a strong performance, moving them from eighth after the short program to fourth overall with 157.76 points.
Canadians Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud landed fifth with 150.74 points, while Alina Ustimkina and Nikita Volodin of Russia slipped from fourth to sixth place with 145.69 points.
Americans Chelsea Liu and Brian John fell three times in the free skate and dropped two places from the short program to finish seventh overall.
The other U.S. entrant, Nica Digerness and Danny Neudecker, came in 10th.
Zagitova finished ahead of Japan's Marin Honda and Kaori Sakamoto, who sit second and third, respectively.
Skating to Samson and Delilah, Zagitova hit a triple lutz-triple toe, triple loop and double axel, and picked up Level 4's for her spins and footwork. The Junior Grand Prix Final champion scored 70.58 points.
"This is a very serious competition, one of the most important for me this season," the 14-year-old said. "So, I was very nervous, of course, but the nervousness went away as soon as I hit my starting pose, and the program just went from there."
Honda's performance to "Smile" by Charlie Chaplin featured the same jump content as Zagitova, as well as two Level 4 spins and a Level 4 step sequence. The 2016 world junior champion posted a new personal best with 68.35 points.
"In the first half of the season, I put too much pressure on myself, but then I realized that I don't need to do that," the 15-year-old said. "Fortunately -- or unfortunately -- I met my goal to win already last year, so now I am more relaxed than a year ago."
Sakamoto landed a triple loop, triple flip-triple toe and double axel in her program to music from The Artist. Her three spins merited a Level 4, and the 16-year-old earned 67.78 points, a new personal best.
"Two seasons ago and this season, I felt the same -- I just have to do what I can do. But the difference is that two years ago I thought I'd never be able to beat the Russian girls," the Japanese junior champion explained. "Now I started to think that maybe I can after all."
Eunsoo Lim of South Korea came in fourth at 64.78 points. Japan's Yuna Shiraiwa sits in fifth (62.96 points), and Stanislava Konstantinova of Russia placed sixth (58.90).
Team USA's Bradie Tennell and Starr Andrews are in seventh and ninth, respectively.