Iliushechkina, Maisuradze grab world junior pairs title

Americans Castelli, Shnapir win bronze behind two Russian pairs

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
(02/25/2009) - It wasn't perfect. But it was just enough.

Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze of Russia are lucky they had a six-point cushion after winning the short program at the 2009 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

They needed it.

Iliushechkina and Maisuradze's free skate was something of a disaster. Iliushechkina fell on a triple toe loop, stepped out on the triple throw flip and touched down on a triple throw loop. Despite the miscues, a score of 89.20 was enough to grab them the top spot on the medal podium.

"We are certainly happy with our results, but not happy with the way we skated today," said Maisuradze. "My partner is so upset that she even does not want to talk."

Anastasia Martiusheva and Alexei Rogonov rebounded from a disappointing 11th-place short program, winning the free skate and leapfrogging the field for the silver medal. Highlights of their "Nutcracker" program included a first-class triple throw loop, two excellent lifts and clean double jumps.

Martiusheva said: "Today we were able to put together our thoughts, our hands and feet and to show a good program. For us the medal is not a big surprise, but the mistakes we made yesterday were a bad surprise."

Team USA's Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir from Boston won the bronze medal. After grabbing second in the short program, they performed the fourth-best free skate and ended up third overall.

Castelli commented: "We skated the best we could have done, and this was our best performance of the season. We are honored to be here and even more honored to be on the podium."

"I made a little mistake on a jump, but my partner landed the throws," explained Shnapir. "Next year, we are planning for the senior level and are looking forward to new competitions."

Brynn Carman and Chris Knierim of Colorado Springs, Colo., ended up ninth after a relatively good free program. They began with an excellent triple twist, followed by two double throws. Carman fell on the double Lutz and Knierim singled the flip, but they shined on their other elements; both lifts got a Level 4.