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Musketeers topple rivals to win world junior title

Team USA's Skyliners, Lexettes finish sixth, seventh

The Musketeers celebrate their first world junior title since 2006, the last time the event was held in Helsinki, Finland.
The Musketeers celebrate their first world junior title since 2006, the last time the event was held in Helsinki, Finland. (Sari Niskanen)

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By Leslie Graham, special to icenetwork.com
(03/09/2013) - The Finnish flags waived high and strong as the Musketeers (Finland 2) and Team Fintastic (Finland 1) captured first and second place, respectively, at the 2013 World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships in Helsinki.

The competition was tight, as the Musketeers narrowly beat out their country mates for the gold, 183.20 to 183.00. Spartak-Junost (Russia 1) took bronze, while the Lexettes (USA 1) finished sixth, and the Skyliners (USA 2) came in seventh.

The Musketeers skated a clean and strong program to The Tale of Desperaux and music from the motion picture Mirror, Mirror. With a free skate score of 121.63, Coach Anu Oksanen enjoyed her team's performance, saying "The girls nailed the free program today in a tough spot."

Trailing by nearly three points after a second-place finish in the short program, the team knew it would need to be near perfect to move ahead of Team Fintastic. The Musketeers did just that, receiving almost all +2 and +3 grades of execution (GOEs) and program components ranging from 8.32 for skating skills to 8.68 for choreography.

Team Fintastic, in first following the short program, had a fall in its intersection that ultimately cost the reigning six-time champions the gold. Its program, skated to "Imaginarium" and "Ophelia's Dream," featured a strong moves in the field element, with the highest level of difficulty, as well as a Level 4 line and Level 4 wheel. It earned 118.68 points in the free skate.

Captain Emma-Rikka Kero had few words following the team's free skate, saying "It was great to skate today."

Spartak-Junost, in third following the short program, maintained its position and earned its first world junior medal. With an overall score of 171.56 and a free skate total of 116.45, the team had the highest base value of the competition and second-highest technical score.

The Lexettes, who were competing at this event for the first time, finished the free skate with 97.64 points, fifth most in the segment. The team put out a clean performance of its Mirror, Mirror program, receiving GOEs from 0 to +2 and program components from 7.32 to 7.46.

When asked how she felt about her team's debut performance at this competition, head coach Saga Krantz said, "We had small, minor mistakes, but more positive things than negatives. As a coach, I am happy,"

The Skyliners were competing at junior worlds for the fourth time in their history. The 2013 U.S. synchronized silver medalists earned 94.04 in the free skate.

"The team's skate went very well today, but we had some technical issues. Overall, I'm really pleased with the performance," head coach Josh Babb said.

Despite a fall in their intersection, the Skyliners skated a fast and expressive program to music from West Side Story. Their program components ranged from 7.18 to 7.54.