Chicago and The Godfather. The team earned the highest technical mark in the competition." />


Team Fintastic wins WJCC title

Finnish team crushes competition by nearly 20 points

The Chicago Jazz junior team finished fourth overall at the World Challenge Cup for Juniors.
The Chicago Jazz junior team finished fourth overall at the World Challenge Cup for Juniors. (Kelly Hodge)


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By Kelly Hodge, special to
(03/08/2008) - The World Challenge Cup for Juniors ended tonight with Team Fintastic easily defending their title. Fintastic bested the field by a 20-point margin, making the real battle for silver and bronze.

They skated a solid program to a "mafia" theme, which included music from the motion picture soundtracks of Chicago and The Godfather.

Fintastic set the tone with their opening block, which they entered into with speed and power; they executed a Level 4 step sequence on their way to the gold medal.

"I was so happy with how they skated," said coach Kaisa Nieminen "Today I felt the main thing was that they skated so well for themselves. I knew after the push into first twizzle in the block step sequence that they had it. They let go and went for it."

The rest of the program grew from there, highlighted by a circle and line which also contained Level 4 step sequences. After finishing their four-minute routine, they had garnered their second world title in four years.

Gold Ice from Canada showed up to the competition with something to prove. In 2006, the team had a disastrous short program, leaving them in seventh place. After winning the free skate, they were still down by so many points they finished fourth -- just off the podium.

After the team finished in seventh in the short again this year, the disappointment in the Gold Ice camp was palpable. But, their gloomy dispositions didn't last long. They pulled out everything they had in the free skate to finish second, and this time it was good enough for the silver.

For coach Wendy Coates, it was a dream come true: "I am totally thrilled with this after last year. We knew that we could be here but were shocked that we could pull it off."

The team skated a fast, powerful program right from the beginning, to music from the motion picture soundtrack Blood Diamond. Gold Ice was inspired to skate to that soundtrack after seeing the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, they spent extensive time learning about the struggles of the people of Africa in preparation for this program.

"I really wanted my skaters to understand and to think about it. I wanted them to grow not only as skaters but as people," explained Coates. The team opened with a lovely movement in isolation -- flying camels and spread eagles, and then pumped up the speed as they entered their block, earning a Level 4 for their step sequence.

"Their opening block just attacked," said Coates. "Before they skated, I told them the game was on and they had nothing to lose, so just go for it. If you miss, at least you'll get off the ice knowing you gave it everything you have."

They didn't miss, and went home with a silver that was as good as gold.

Taking home the bronze medal was the Musketeers from Finland. The team was third in the short program and managed to hold onto the bronze medal, despite finishing fifth in the free skate.

They skated a strong program to "Quest for Camelot." In neon green dresses, they performed a nicely choreographed free skate but struggled with the technical elements score, seeing downgrades on three of their five step sequences. A program components score of 51.96 helped boost their overall score to 160.01 and kept them on the podium.

Chicago Jazz skated to music from the motion picture soundtrack Rudy. They started off with their trademark intersection, a box with back double threes at the point of intersection. They earned a +2 Grade of Execution from nearly every judge on the panel and sailed through their next block with a Level 4 step sequence.

On their second intersection, however, one skater fell as she was exiting. While it did not affect the program, the lost point proved costly. Despite tying Nexxice for third in the free skate with 95.87 points, their total was 159.21, just .80 from a bronze medal.

The Colonials also had a good night, skating their final clean program of the season. The team from West Acton, Mass., excelled in the technical elements score, earning 50.15 points -- the third highest of the evening. The team's total in the free skate was 93.99, which gave them 155.78 overall, and placed them seventh in the event.