U.S. brings home four medals from JGP Australia

Hicks, Brown take gold for Team USA

Courtney Hicks (center) and Vanessa Lam (right) won two of the four medals for the U.S.
Courtney Hicks (center) and Vanessa Lam (right) won two of the four medals for the U.S. (Justin Dillon)


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By Kristin Zinsmeister, special to
(09/10/2011) - The second of seven International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating (JGP) Series events finished today with the United States bring back four medals.

Reigning U.S. junior champion Courtney Hicks dominated the competition during her free skate, earning a combined total of 151.91 points and securing the gold medal. Although she sat in second place after the short program, Hicks climbed to the top spot by landing six triples, including a triple Lutz-double toe loop-double loop combination, during her free skate to the music of Reinhold Gliere.

"Australia was a lot of fun, and I was so glad that I was able to bring back a medal for the United States," Hicks said of her performance.

Japan's Risa Shoji, who entered the free skate in fourth place, earned the silver medal. Shoji successfully completed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop-double loop combination, as well as a double Axel- triple toe loop combination. However, downgrades on a triple Salchow and a triple flip along with other small errors cost her the gold.

Hicks' teammate Vanessa Lam skated away with her second career JGP medal, the bronze. Skating to "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" by Rachmaninoff, Lam opened her program with a triple Lutz-double loop-double loop combination and closed the performance with two level four spins, garnering 96.20 points in her free skate and 145.48 points overall.

Although Lam was excited about her on-ice accomplishments, she was also thrilled to have some off-ice fun as well. "I got to feed a kangaroo, hold a koala, and won a boomerang," Lam said of her Australian experiences.

Scoring a total of 197.23 points, Jason Brown captured the gold medal in Brisbane after a stellar performance in which he landed six triples and received level fours on two of his spins. His only mistake was toward the end of the program when a triple flip had a slight downgrade in his triple flip-double toe loop-double loop combination. However, his performance was strong enough to earn him the gold medal, scoring about five points more than second place and seventeen points more than third place.

Second was Japan's Keiji Tanaka, who earned 192.36 points and the silver medal, turned in a solid performance. The highlights of his program included a triple Axel, a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, and two level four spins.

Third place went to Canada's Liam Firus, who landed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop and a double Axel-triple toe loop, but turned two triples into doubles during his free skate performance.

American Philip Warren placed sixth in his Junior Grand Prix debut.

Ice Dancing
Five points separated gold from bronze as the three medal winners were the only teams to break the 120-point mark in Brisbane.

Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager, the 2011 U.S. junior silver medalists, took home the silver after totaling 123.62 points for the competition. Sitting in first place after the short dance, the duo was the last to take the ice in Saturday's free dance. Their "Close to You" free featured five elements scored at a level four including their twizzle sequence and spin.

"We were proud of our performances and representing Team USA 'down under,'" Bonacorsi said of her experience competing in Australia.

Reigning Canadian junior champions Nicole Orford and Thomas Williams skated up from third after the short dance to secure the second JGP medals, and first gold, of their careers. They won bronze at least year's JGP event in Great Britain. Their free dance, skated to music from Gone With the Wind, was the best by over five points with 37.60 of their 76.32 points for the segment coming on the technical elements.

Bronze went to Russia's Valeria Zenkova and Valerie Sinitsin. The team returns to the JGP for the fourth season with their only previous medal, also bronze, coming at 2008 JGP Mexico.

Competing for the first time internationally, Americans Madeline Heritage and Nathaniel Fast finished fifth.