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China, Russia each win four medals at JGP Austria

American Lam takes ladies gold; Yan lands rare quad in free skate

China's Han Yan won his fourth gold medal in the JGP Series in Innsbruck, Austria.
China's Han Yan won his fourth gold medal in the JGP Series in Innsbruck, Austria. (Getty Images)

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By Renee Felton and Kristin Zinsmeister, special to icenetwork.com
(10/01/2011) - China was the big winner at the Junior Grand Prix Series event this week in Innsbruck, Austria, winning two gold medals and two silvers. Russian skaters also brought home four medals: one gold, a silver and two bronzes.

Ladies
American Vanessa Lam followed her bronze medal at JGP Australia with a gold on Friday in Austria. Lam sat in fourth place following her "Con Te Partiro" short program. She went on to win the free skate, which she performs to "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," by nearly six points over eventual silver medalist Zijun Li of China, with her win coming by just .18 points.

Lam's free skate featured a triple flip-double loop combination, a double Axel-double Axel sequence and a level four combination spin. She finished the competition by setting personal bests in both the free skate (106.23 points) and overall score (156.58).

"My third-place finish at JGP Australia left me hungry for a better performance," Lam said. "I trained harder than ever to make my programs consistent and to build my stamina. I felt ready when I hit the ice here and gave it my all. I am pleased with my efforts to put my best foot forward and hope for a trip to the JGP Final."

With medal-winning performances in Australia and Austria, Lam has earned 26 points (out of a possible 30), making her the second-ranked ladies skater on the JGP circuit.

Li, who sits just behind Lam in the overall JGP standings, added a silver to the one she already earned in Latvia. She maintained her second-place standing in both segments of the competition and set personal-best scores across the board. She totaled 156.40 points for the event.

Short-program winner Polina Agafonova of Russia now has two bronze medals on the season after winning a medal of the same color at JGP Latvia. The 2010 world junior bronze medalist landed difficult triple-triple combinations (Salchow-toe) in both of her programs.

In her JGP debut, American Katarina Kulgeyko, the 2011 U.S. junior bronze medalist, finished fifth with a total score of 139.50 points.

Men's
Han Yan of China won the gold medal by 25 points and was the only competitor to break the 200-point mark, with 205.86 points. He was joined on the podium by Russia's Gordei Gorshkov and Japan's Keiji Tanaka.

Yan, the 2010 JGP Final silver medalist, solidified the win with a free skate that earned 137.08 points. He started his "Zigeunerweisen" program with a triple Axel that netted 10.50 points followed by a rare (for the JGP Series) quadruple jump, a quad toe worth 12.44 points. The second half of the 15-year-old's program featured a triple Lutz-double toe combination.

In his season-opening event, Gorshkov earned his fourth JGP medal. The 18-year-old has been competing on the circuit since 2006. His free skate featured three level four spins and a pair of double Axels.

Tanaka earned 173.98 points for the competition. Americans Timothy Dolensky and Philip Warren finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in what were the second competitions of the season for each of them.

Pairs
China claimed three of the top four spots, including the gold and silver medals.

China's Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, who compete in both the Junior Grand Prix and Grand Prix series, claimed their second gold medal of the season while setting a personal-best score in the free skate with 118.54 points. The 2010 JGP Final bronze medalists began their flamenco-themed free skate sitting in third place. The program began with a quad twist, an element rarely performed at the junior level, which earned 7.96 points. Four of their 11 elements were credited with grades of execution of at least 1.0, including both of their throw elements.

Sui and Han's teammates Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin, who like Sui and Han are set to compete at Skate Canada in late October, have a second silver medal to their credit this season.

Ekaterina Petaikina and Maxim Kurduykov of Russia rounded out the top three with their first medal in three seasons on the JGP circuit.

Kylie Duarte and Colin Grafton enjoyed the best American finish (sixth). They were followed closely by Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier in seventh and Olivia Oltmanns and Joshua Santillan in 11th.

Ice Dancing
Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin of Russia, the champions at JGP Poland, added another gold to their trophy case in Innsbruck. Skating to The Phantom of the Opera, the duo earned level fours on four of their elements and scored 89.36 points for their free dance. Coupled with their short dance score of 61.74, they earned 151.10 total points and a 15-point win.

Americans Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton earned the silver medal in Innsbruck, scoring 55.48 points for their short dance and 81.37 for their free dance for a total of 136.85. Skating to music from The Lord of the Dance and River Dance by Ronan Hardiman, Aldridge and Eaton received level fours on five of their elements. The team earned the bronze medal at JGP Poland earlier this year.

Maria Nosulia and Evgen Kholoniuk of Ukraine took the bronze, to go along with their gold medal from the season's first event in Latvia. The team completed four level four elements, which included a level four lift, scoring 73.58 points for their free dance. They earned 54.76 points in their short dance, giving them a total of 128.34 points.