Russian gold rush continues in junior ice dance
Stepanova, Bukin take top prize; Aldridge, Eaton pull up to earn bronze
|Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin are the fourth Russian dance team in a row to take home the gold from the Junior Grand Prix Final. (Getty Images)|
The Russians' flamenco-inspired free dance featured a pair of Level 3 step sequences that received 7.64 points each. The free dance segment totaled 88.39 points, and they were awarded 149.57 points overall.
"The performance felt really positive," Bukin said. "The audience was awesome; they supported us so well, and this really helps. It was a good performance, but not our best yet."
In their first JGP Final, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France won the silver medal. The longtime JGP competitors, having skated on the circuit since 2009, totaled 139.21 points for the week.
Although they were defeated here, the French are taking aim at the gold medalists down the line.
"[Stepanova and Bukin] also skated without mistakes -- very clean and strong performance," Cizeron said. "We hope to beat them at the world (junior) championships."
Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton, the 2012 U.S. junior champions and world junior bronze medalists, battled back from a low score in the short dance to execute an exceptional free dance.
Both athletes were confident Thursday night that their free would go better than their short, a forecast that would prove to be accurate.
"This free dance was important because of how disappointed we were after the short dance," Aldridge explained. "Not so much with the way that we skated and performed, but with our score. We wanted to come out today and show the judges, technical panel and crowd that we are a strong team technically and emotionally. We can have strong levels and a high performance. I think we accomplished that today."
Skating to music from Fiddler on the Roof, Aldridge and Eaton earned positive grades of execution on each of their eight elements, including a trio of Level 4 lifts and a Level 4 spin.
Their score for the week totaled 136.19 points after netting a season-high 83.59 points for the free dance.
Russia's Anna Yanovskaia and Sergei Mozgov, who were in third after the short, finished fourth.