Russia, China on top after day one at world juniors

Shibutanis second headed into original dance

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are second after the compulsory dance round.
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are second after the compulsory dance round. (Paul Harvath)


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(03/10/2010) - The ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships 2010 opened in The Hague, The Netherlands, on Tuesday with the compulsory dance and the pairs short program. 211 skaters/couples from 53 ISU members have been entered for the championships. All skaters/couples compete in the short program and the top 24 men and ladies and the top 16 pairs will proceed to the free skating. In ice dance, all couples competed in the compulsory dance, the top 30 couples advanced to the original dance and the top 20 dance teams will compete in the free dance.

Ilinykh/Katsalapov (RUS) dance to lead in Compulsory Dance
Russia's Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov danced to the lead in the Westminster Waltz compulsory dance followed by Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA) and Ekaterina Pushkash and Jonathan Guerreiro of Russia.

Ilinykh and Katsalapov delivered a flowing, confident performance of the Waltz to score a seasons best of 37.52 points (20.24 element score/17.28 program component score).

"It is a little unexpected for us to be in the lead, after all, we are not the top ranked Russian team," Ilinykh said, referring to the fact that they placed second to Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin at the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final and Russian Junior Nationals.

"We've worked very hard since the Final in December, we worked especially on our technique and physical strength, we did many run-throughs of our programs. We are pleased that we were able to improve the technical side of our skating," Ilinykh continued.

The couples ranked second through fifth are separated by less than one point.

Shibutani and Shibutani put out a solid Westminster Waltz and picked up 34.27 points (18.48/15.79).

"We're very happy with our dance, and we really enjoy skating the Westminster. It's very joyful. We just want to put out strong performances. We think this is a great start to the week and we're just going to focus on the skating," Maia Shibutani commented.

"We skated really well and we just had a lot of fun out there. We were relaxed," her brother added. "The placement is the placement. We still have our goals how we want to skate and we're going to stick to that."

Pushkash and Guerreiro skated last out of the 34 couples and produced a strong Waltz as well, showing off their elegant lines. The Russians earned 34.20 points (18.38/15.82).

"We showed everything as we can do it in practice, and so we are happy and our coach was pleased as well. We like the Waltz. The flow of the Waltz suits us probably better than sharp movements in other dances," Pushkash said.

"We skated last and we were a bit nervous, but we actually like to skate last. We won't relax now, as the difference in points between the couples is very small," she explained.

"We are in our first season and we are still gelling as a team, but the Waltz works well for us as we have matching body lines. A Quickstep probably would have been a little harder for us," Guerreiro offered.

ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champions Maria Monko and Kirill Khaliavin (RUS) came fourth at 34.17 points and Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam (CAN) follow in fifth with 33.32 points. Lorenza Alessandrini and Simone Vaturi (ITA) are ranked sixth (32.35 points).

Sui/Han (CHN) take pairs short program Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China grabbed the lead in the pairs short program ahead of Japan's Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran and Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia.

Performing to the upbeat Russian folk music "Barynia," Sui and Han hit a solid side by side double Axel, a high double twist and earned a Level 4 for the death spiral and the pair combination spin, but Sui touched down with her hand on the throw triple Salchow. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champions posted a seasons best score of 60.94 points (36.46/24.48).

"Overall we're quite satisfied with our performance although in some places it wasn't our best," Han said.

Takahashi and Tran's expressive Flamenco program featured a double Axel, double twist, one-armed lift and throw triple Salchow. Both spins were graded a Level 4, and the reigning ISU Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists picked up 59.54 points (36.46/23.08), which also was a seasons best.

"Today was really good. We had a few wobbles here and there, but we were together in the side by side spin, which is better than usual," Tran commented.

Stolbova and Klimov landed a beautiful throw triple Salchow, a double twist, the double Axel in their routine to Russian folklore, but had only a Level 1 for their straight line footwork. The couple from St. Petersburg earned a seasons best of 54.26 points (32.12/22.12).

"We executed all our elements, we did our minimum and we didn't outdo ourselves, but we are pleased that it was a clean performance and that we got our best score of the season," Klimov told the press.

Britney Simpson and Nathan Miller (USA) turned in another clean program to finish fourth at 52.20 points. Tatiana Novik and Mikhail Kuznetsov (RUS) are currently sitting in fifth place after she fell on the double Axel (49.38 points).