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Russia owns ladies podium, Radionova prevails

Lipnitskaia, Pogorilaya round out medal winners; Cesario slides into fourth place

Russia's Elena Radionova won both the Junior Grand Prix Final and world junior championships.
Russia's Elena Radionova won both the Junior Grand Prix Final and world junior championships. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(03/02/2013) - Just a few hours after U.S. skaters swept the men's podium, three 14-year-olds from Russia snared the ladies medals at the 2013 World Junior Championships, with Elena Radionova of Moscow, who won the Junior Grand Prix Final in December, coming out on top.

Radionova used her trademark unique spins -- plus some impressive jumps -- to climb from fifth place in the short program to first in the free skate and overall with 169.71 points.

Skating to a medley of Russian movie soundtracks, the teen opened with a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, but the toe was judged under-rotated. She also got two edge calls on triple flips, one of which was done in sequence with a triple Salchow. Overall, though, she performed seven triples plus two double Axels and skated with admirable expression.

Her program components averaged around 6.7.

"I think I have been very expressive since my childhood; maybe I was even more expressive [back] then," Radionova said. "Yesterday, I skated in this arena for the first time and I wasn't really used to it. Today, I felt more confident, and maybe that made the difference. I expected to move up, maybe not to the first place, but into the top three."

Radionova's idols are three skaters who are expected to fight for the world title in London, Ontario, later this month: Yu-Na Kim, Mao Asada and Carolina Kostner.

"I like how easily they skate and jump," she said.

Julia Lipnitskaia, who withdrew from the senior Grand Prix Final due to a concussion suffered in a fall in practice, looked fully recovered here and won silver with 165.67.

Lipnitskaia began her Nutcracker free skate with an excellent three-jump combination of double Axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop, followed by another double Axel-triple toe. Four more triples and two more double Axels followed, but she got edge calls on her two triple flips. Her spins, like Radionova's, were superb.

"In the short program I was thinking too much," Lipnitskaia said. "I was so nervous before the short, like I've never [been] in my life before. I went out with a completely different mindset for the free skating. I went through the program until the last jump, thinking about nothing, and then everything came together."

The third Russian, Anna Pogorilaya, won the bronze medal with 160.32 points, despite stepping out of the second jump of a triple Lutz-triple toe combination and turning out of the landings of three other jumps. Her other elements and her presentation were good, but not outstanding, and her program components averaged around 6.2.

"Contrary to the other girls, I wasn't nervous at all: not in the short or the long program," Pogorilaya said. "I went out with a cool head, and my goal was to show what I prepared for and what I had come here for."

Samantha Cesario, who had a slim lead after the short, dropped to fourth place in the free and placed fourth overall with 154.55 points. Her stylish free skate, set to music from Black Swan, featured six triple jumps, good spins and an excellent step sequence, and her program components averaged around 6.5.

However, the technical panel saw five under-rotated jumps, which are worth just 70 percent of the jumps' base values. In addition, the judges assigned mostly -1 grades of execution (GOEs) for these jumps, and she gained nine fewer technical element points than Pogorilaya.

Although Cesario's program components were three points higher than Pogorilaya's, it was not enough to give her the bronze medal, and the Milan crowd booed and whistled its disapproval.

"I was not thrilled about the result because this has been one of my best performances," Cesario, 19, said. "That's all I can ask for. Maybe [my free skate at] nationals was a little bit better, but I had a long week here. I was happy with it as a rule."

Cesario, who placed eighth in seniors at the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, hopes to compete at a senior Grand Prix event next season.

"If they give me one, that would be great, but I am not sure," she said. "I am aging out of juniors, so this was my final junior competition."

Californian Courtney Hicks, who entered the free skate in a point tie for second place, ended up fifth with 152.92 points. Although she skated with good speed and aggression, she stepped out of several of her triple jumps, including an opening triple flip-triple toe loop combination and a second triple Lutz.

"I fought through the program; I just did what I could," Hicks said. "I think the result is pretty fair. I was expecting a bit more, but I do not know what happened."

Yasmin Siraj of Boston had a solid, if imperfect, free skate to music from the Seven Years in Tibet soundtrack and ended 11th with 139.08 points. The pupil of Peter Johansson and Mark Mitchell hit a good triple Lutz-double toe combination and three other triples, but failed on the take-off of a triple Salchow and stepped out of the landing of a triple toe loop.

"I was pretty pleased with my performance, other than the slip on the Salchow, which was not normal," Siraj said. "I was pleased with the rest of my performance, and it is a great experience to be here. I would have liked a better result, but it is based on what I performed, and it is a very tough competition."