It's a world junior hat trick for China's Sui and Han
China captures gold and silver; Denney, Frazier finish fourth
|Wenjing Sui and Cong Han may add two more quad elements to their free skate at worlds. (Getty Images)|
As usual, the ambitious duo tried two quad elements in their free skate to Flamenco music. Although Sui landed the throw quad Salchow on two feet, the element still gained 7.14 points. The quad twist was clean, earning 8.39 points.
The throw triple flip was huge, and the two difficult lifts well-executed; Han did have a poor landing on the triple toe-double toe combination. All told, they gained 116.40 points for their free skate program and 175.69 overall.
"We did a good performance today, but it was not our best," Han said. "We were a bit nervous."
Like Denis Ten, who competed here in the men's event, Sui and Han are competing in both junior and senior ISU championship events.
"We still skate in juniors because we want to learn and learn," Han said. "We may add more than two quad elements in our free program [at the world championships], but this is still a secret. We plan to go to the U.S. in the summer to work on new choreography, but we will decide later where we will go."
Sui and Han's teammates, Xiaoyo Yu and Yang Jin, outperformed the champions in the technical elements score, landing cleaner jumps, including side-by-side triple toes and two double Axels in sequence. They also landed two excellent triple throws and a triple twist but performed with less assurance, resulting in lower program components marks. They earned 112.76 in the free and 167.48 overall, good for the silver medal.
"We are very pleased with our performance today," Jin said. "It was the best that we can do, but we hope that next year we will even be better."
New Russian pair Vasilisa Davankova and Andrei Deputat moved up from fifth after the short to take bronze with a free skate that included two clean triple throws and side-by-side triple toes. Their only mistake came when Deputat stumbled out of the double Axel. They earned 153.66 overall.
"We did a good performance today, but we are new and hope to do much better next season," Davankova said. "Here we had more pressure than at the competitions in Russia, because there were more good pairs."
Skating to the Pearl Harbor soundtrack, U.S. junior champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier cleanly landed all of their big elements -- including two triple throws, a triple twist and double Axels -- but did not include individual triple jumps in the program. They ended up fourth with 150.55 points.
"We are just happy that we skated a clean program and we can be proud of ourselves," Denney, 16, said.
"Today we did everything that we could have done," Frazier, 19, said. "We reached our personal best, with more than 150 points, which was our goal."
Kylie Duarte and Colin Grafton showed fine lifts and clean side-by-side triple Salchows, but Duarte stumbled on the landing of a triple toe loop and throw triple Salchow.
"We put a lot of energy and power into the program," Duarte said. "Obviously, there were a few mistakes, but I am happy that we pushed through the program after those mistakes."
"Overall, we are happy with the placement," Grafton said. "We 'age out' of juniors now and are looking forward on competing in seniors next season. We have never skated in front of such a huge crowd, so it was an amazing experience for us."
U.S. junior silver medalists Britney Simpson and Matthew Blackmer began their free program with a double twist, but Simpson fell on the throw triple loop and the double Axel. They placed 10th.
"It was a very intense competition," Simpson said. "It was not our best performance today, but mistakes happen even to the best pairs, and we will learn from them for the future."
Minsk madness: Since the combined finishes of Denney and Frazier (fourth) and Duarte and Grafton (eighth) total 13 or less, the U.S. is entitled to enter three pairs at this event next season ... Judges continue to be charitable toward Sui and Han. Although Sui clearly two-footed the throw quad Salchow, two judges awarded the element a grade of execution (GOE) of zero ("0"), indicating it was completed cleanly. Only one judge assigned a GOE of negative two (-2). Similar judging occurred at Four Continents, where three members of the panel assigned GOEs of 0 through +2 to the throw, despite a two-footed landing ... Both Chinese medalists here are coached by Bo Luan in Harbin. Luan and Bin Yao, coach of Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao and founder of the Chinese pairs dynasty, competed in pairs at the 1984 Olympics, placing 15th.