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U.S., Russia take three medals each from Croatia

Kanallakan, Nagasu, Crone and Poirier take the golds

Despite some trouble in the free skate, Mirai Nagasu won her second JGP gold of the season.
Despite some trouble in the free skate, Mirai Nagasu won her second JGP gold of the season. (Daphne Backman)

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(09/30/2007) - Both the United States and Russia took home three medals each from the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) in Zagreb, Croatia, this weekend. Americans Austin Kanallakan and Mirai Nagasu won gold for the men's and ladies, respectively. The ice dance team of Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier took home the gold for Canada.

Ladies

American Mirai Nagasu dominated the ladies competition, finishing first in both the short and free skate programs. Nagasu's jumps were solid, with clean landings on her triple Lutz-double toe combination and her double Axel. It was Nagasu's spins, however, that won her high Grade of Execution (GOE) points from the judges, with her level-four layback spin garnering eight plus-two and two plus-three GOEs. Both her triple Lutz and triple Salchow in the free skate earned her minus-three and minus-two GOEs, but she was still able to win the gold, her second of the JGP season so far.

Nagusu's ability to secure the gold was aided in part by the disappointing free skate of Finland's Jenni Vahamaa. After finishing second in the short program, Vahamaa, who won the bronze medal at the JGP Austria, seemed to have difficulty in her long program, earning minus-three GOEs on both her triple Lutz and triple toe jumps. Vahamaa's triple flip-double toe combination jump also resulted in minus-two and minus-three GOEs from all the judges, and she received 2.00 points worth of deductions. Her third-place free skate was enough to take the silver medal, but it kept her from challenging Nagasu for the gold.

Korea's Na-Young Kim brought home the bronze, staging an impressive comeback after finishing sixth in the short program. While her protocol sheet for the short program contained very few positive GOEs, Kim turned in a fairly clean free skate.

Men

At the end of the competition, a mere 2.48 points separated the top three men's skaters. The United States' Austin Kanallakan took home the gold, despite finishing second in both the short and free skate portions of the competition. This is Kanallakan's third JGP gold medal. In 2006 he finished first at the JGP events in both Norway and France. Both Kanallakan's short and long programs were clean, with the only large negative GOEs being received for his triple Lutz-double toe-double loop combination.

Kanallakan's teammate, Armin Mahbanoozadeh, the gold medalist from this season's opening Junior Grand Prix event in Lake Placid, N.Y., turned in an outstanding short program. He took a lead of a little more than two points thanks in large part to a triple Lutz-triple toe combination and a triple loop, the GOEs for which ranged from zero to one, and for which he garnered a combined 15.43 points.

The short program got off to a rough start for silver medalist Ivan Bariev of Russia. His attempt at a triple Axel resulted in a fall, and he had a great deal of difficulty with his triple Lutz-double toe combination. He recovered with a strong free skate to vault into second place, though less than a point separated him and Mahbanoozadeh.

Dance

In another tight race, Canada's Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier secured the gold in the ice dance portion of the competition by a mere two tenths of a point over silver medalists Kristina Gorshkova and Vitali Butikov of Russia. Both team's protocol sheets were littered with plus-one and plus-two GOEs following the compulsory dance and the free dance. Crone and Poirier, who took the gold earlier this season at the JGP Romania, were able to overcome GOEs ranging from minus one to minus three on their level-three midline step sequence in the original dance, resulting in a one-point deduction, to take home gold.

Bronze medalists Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khalivin of Russia skated cleanly in the compulsory and free dances. Their attempted level-four midline step sequence in the original dance, however, garnered the team numerous negative GOEs.