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Team USA takes two medals at JGP Latvia

Aldridge and Eaton, Dolensky makes podium for U.S.

Timothy Dolensky won his first career Junior Grand Prix Series medal.
Timothy Dolensky won his first career Junior Grand Prix Series medal. (Lorrie Parker)

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By Renee Felton, special to icenetwork.com
(09/03/2011) - Saturday proved to be Team USA's day as both Timothy Dolensky and ice dancers Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton earned the first international medals of their careers.

Men
Within striking distance of the podium going into the free skate, Dolensky, the 2010 U.S. novice bronze medalist, skated a clean program to the music of the Gypsy Kings. The Atlanta native opened the program with a double Axel-triple toe combination but didn't stop there as he saved four jump elements, including a triple loop-double toe-double toe, for the second half of the show.

Preceding Dolensky on the podium were Japan's Ryuju Hino and China's He Zhang. Just 0.33 points separated gold from silver with Hino netting 182.71 points.

Dolensky's teammate Emmanuel Savary, competing for the first time since winning the novice title at Gardena Spring Trophy last spring, finished in 14th.

Ice Dancing
After a pair of finishes just off the podium last year in their Junior Grand Prix debut, Aldridge and Eaton started the 2011-12 campaign with a medal-winning performance in Latvia. The duo, skating together since May 2009, finished the free dance in second place to vault them from a fifth-place showing in the short dance.

En route to 72.20 points for their Lord of the Dance and River Dance free dance, Aldridge and Eaton were credited with Level 4s on five of seven elements.

Maria Nosulia and Evgen Kholoniuk of Ukraine won the gold medal by over five points. The duo had never finished in better than fifth place in four previous JGP assignments. The silver medal went to Russia's Evgenia Kosigina and Nikolai Moroshkin.

The twin brother-and-sister duo of Danielle Gamelin and Alexander Gamelin finished in ninth place, moving up from 17th after the short dance.

Ladies
Polina Shelepen of Russia earned her fourth gold medal, in five tries, on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. A three-year veteran to the JGP Series, Shelepen vaulted herself from fifth place after the short to win the free skate and the eventual title. She was joined on the podium by China's Zijun Li and teammate Polina Agafonova.

Yasmin Siraj led the American contingent and began her second international season with a fifth-place showing in Riga. The native of Brookline, Mass., finished third in the free skate thanks to high-scoring jump elements including a double Axel-double toe-double loop at the tail end of her "Misa Tango" program. Teammate Ashley Cain finished sixth overall. Cain was a late addition to Team USA, having replaced an injured Katarina Kulgeyko about a week before the competiton.

Pairs
A pair of Chinese teams topped the podium with Wenjing Sui and Cong Han winning both segments of the competition en route to their fifth JGP medal (fourth gold). Teammates Xiaoyu Yum and Yang Jin nabbed silver while Canada's Margaret Purdy and Michael Marinaro took bronze.

The American teams finished seven, eight, nine with Olivia Oltmanns and Josh Santillian leading the way in their second-ever international assignment. Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, who are pairing for the second time in their careers, were just two points behind their teammates while Kylie Duarte and Colin Grafton skated to a ninth-place showing.