Russians rule top spot after pairs short

Team USA's Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir in medal contention

Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze won the gold medal Wednesday in Bulgaria.
Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze won the gold medal Wednesday in Bulgaria. (Getty)


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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to
(02/24/2009) - Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze of Russia won the short program at the 2009 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria with a distance of six points.

The duo made only two minor errors, on their lutz and their twist. But the style of last year's second-place team at junior worlds was far superior to the rest of the field. They got average program component scores of 5.7, while four of their elements were Level 4. In addition, their throw triple loop earned 1.12 extra points.

Iliushechkina said: "We are happy to be here in Sofia again, because this rink is very successful for us after our silver medal last year. We had no pressure here, because we had already competed at the 2009 European Championships and the Cup of Russia -- which are bigger events."

Maisuradze added: "We did very well today except for the small mistakes."

In second place, are the American team of Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir from Boston, Mass. They performed a twist flip with 0.60 plus points, a double throw loop and six other good elements.

"It is a little surprise to be in second position, because other teams had more difficult elements," said Shnapir. "But we could sell our program well today and made no mistake."

Castelli added: "We wanted to come off the ice with a smile and we did." Third are Ekaterina Sheremetieva and Mikhail Kuznetsov, another Russian team. They started with a triple throw loop, but Sheremetieva singled the required double Lutz.

"We are not so satisfied today because we made mistakes," explained Sheremetieva. "But we could not train for three months in the fall because I had a leg injury."

Brynn Carman and Chris Knierim from Colorado Springs, Colo., did a good short program with a double throw loop, an excellent lift without any mistakes and are ninth.

Knierim commented: "We are happy we did a clean program today and had good elements."