Marjorie Lajoie &Zachary Lagha strike Gold
Marjorie Lajoie/Zachary Lagha of Canada danced to the top of the podium at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships 2019 in Zagreb on Saturday to end a 13-year gold medal drought for Canadian Ice Dance at the junior level. Russia’s Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva/ Nikita Nazarov claimed the silver medal in their debut at the event and their compatriots Sofia Shevchenko/Igor Eremenko took the bronze.
Performing to “Warsaw Concerto” by Richard Addinsell, Lajoie/Lagha completed difficult lifts and twizzles, picking up a level four for these elements as well as for the combination spin. The midline step sequence merited a level two and the Canadian Junior Champions posted a season’s best with 105.96 points. Overall they accumulated 176.10 points to win their first medal at the championships in their fourth consecutive appearance.
Lagha, 19, said: “In the past two years we had a lot of disappointing results – sixth in the Final last year in Nagoya (2017/18 season), from second to fourth place at Junior Worlds last year, fourth at the Final by 0.03 points in our own country. After each of those competitions we still stood up and we analyzed our program. We’re really happy that the work finally paid off.”
Lajoie, 18, said: “We feel amazing about this (being the first Canadian World Junior Ice Dance Champions since Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir won in 2006), especially since they are our inspiration and we hope to follow in their footsteps.”
Khudaiberdieva/Nazarov delivered a strong performance to “Human” and “Nemesis”, collecting a level four for the lifts, twizzles and combination spin while the footwork was rated a level two. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalists were ranked fourth in the Free Dance with 102.53 points, but held on to second place overall with 171.22 points.
“We couldn’t even think about that result,” said 16-year-old Khudaiberdieva afterwards. “We were the number three Russian team, a confident number three though. We haven’t realized yet that we are second at our first Junior Worlds. This will push us next season and will give us motivation and confidence.”
Shevchenko/Eremenko’s dance to “Intro”, “Witchdoctor” and “Lijo” featured four level-four elements. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champions scored 102.87 points to come second in the Free Dance. They totaled 170.43 points to remain in third place overall.
“I can’t describe our emotions now,” said Shevchenko, 17. “We are working hard every day and we are so happy sitting here with these guys. We finished an amazing season, the best season of our career so far.”
All three teams will move up to the senior level in the next season.
Avonley Nguyen/Vadym Kolesnik (USA) were third in the Free Dance with a smooth performance to “Demons” by Imagine Dragons and “Experience” by Ludovico Einaudi to move up from fifth to fourth at 166.48 points in their debut at the event.
Arina Ushakova/Maxim Nekrasov (RUS), the 2018 World Junior bronze medalists, slipped from fourth to fifth on 166.48 points while ISU Junior Grand Prix finalists Maria Kazakova/Georgy Reviya (GEO) came sixth (155.40 points), which is the best result for a Georgian Ice Dance couple at an ISU Championship.
Quad queen Trusova (RUS) jumps to Junior Ladies gold
Alexandra Trusova of Russia jumped into the gold medal position in Zagreb on Saturday to retain her title as World Junior Ladies champion. Overnight leader Anna Shcherbakova, also from Russia, had to settle for the silver medal and Ting Cui (USA) claimed the bronze.
After finishing second in the Short Program on Friday, Trusova fell on her opening quad Lutz (underrotated) as she skated to “The Fifth Element” in the Free Skating. But she recovered instantly to hit a quad toe-triple toe and quad toeloop as well as five triple jumps and a double Axel plus level-four spins and footwork.
The Russian Junior champion scored 150.40 points and racked up 222.89 points overall to successfully defend her title.
“I’m pleased with my performance, but I will continue to work on my quads, triples, spins and skating skills,” the 14-year-old said. “I’m looking forward to performing at the senior level, I really liked it at senior Nationals and I hope I can compete on the Grand Prix. I want to learn new elements, the triple Axel and quad loop.”
Shcherbakova stepped out of her quadruple Lutz and then reeled off a triple flip-triple loop combination, triple Lutz-triple toe and three more triples as well as exquisite spins in her routine set to “Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso” by Camille Saint-Saens.
The Russian champion earned 147.08 points and slipped to second at 219.94 points overall. “I’m quite pleased with what I did today,” said the 14-year-old Muscovite. “There were some small mistakes and I’ll work on them. The landing of the quad Lutz was not perfectly clean, but it was still better than last time.”
Cui’s performance to “Giselle” included six clean triple jumps and two level-four spins, but she fell on an underrotated triple flip. With 126.72 points, the USA skater was ranked third in the Free Skating and remained in third overall at 194.41 points.
“My program wasn’t clean like I was hoping for, but I am still very happy with it, how I skated and performed the character of the story,” the 16-year-old said. “This is my second Junior Worlds so coming in I was a little bit more relaxed because I knew a bit more what to expect. I am very happy I was able to medal and make it to the podium.”
Kseniia Sinitsyna (RUS) came fourth on 188.84 points with a solid performance. Yuna Shiraiwa (JPN) pulled up one spot to fifth (185.46 points) and Young You (KOR) moved up from 11th to sixth on 178.82 points.