Ice Network

USA's Chen, Russians stand tall at JGP Slovakia

Americans grab three medals in Kosice; Russia dominates field
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With 179.08 points, Karen Chen (center) was triumphant in the ladies competition. -Richard Gayle

Russia added six medals to their already impressive haul this season at the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) event in Kosice, Slovakia, this weekend. Included in their medal count was a medal in each event and a sweep of the podium in pairs. The United States earned a total of three medals.

Ladies

In the ladies event, American Karen Chen made her claim for a spot in the Junior Grand Prix Final with 179.08 points and the gold medal. Chen skated to the lead with an impressive short program total of 64.46 points. During her "Esperanza" skate, Chen opened with a triple Lutz-triple toe worth an event-element best 11.40 points. She added a double Axel and triple loop in the second half of her program as well.

Despite a second place finish in the free skate, Chen held on for gold.

"I felt great out there," Chen said. "I wasn't nervous because I was prepared. I felt like I did my best, attacked everything and did not hold back."

The gold this week and bronze at JGP Latvia give Chen 26 series points, which could be good enough to earn her a spot in the series final.

With the top performance in the free skate, 114.73 points, Alexandra Proklova of Russia claimed the silver medal with 175.11 points. Proklova, in her JGP debut, earned the best score for her components in the free skate and added a triple flip-single loop-triple Salchow combination to her list of elements. Riona Kato of Japan, who finished in 11th in her last JGP event in 2011, earned the bronze with 165.09 points.

The second American entered in this event, Barbie Long, finished in fifth place with 148.19 points.

Men's

In the men's event, 2011 World Junior silver medalist Keiji Tanaka of Japan used a superb short program performance to fuel his gold medal victory. Despite a third-place finish in the free skate, Tanaka earned 70.72 points in his short, which included an opening triple Axel and triple flip-triple toe which each earned GOEs (grades of execution) of 1 or better. He ended with a total of 193.61 points for the event.

He Zhang of China entered the free skate in fifth place, yet landed on the podium in silver-medal position. Zhang landed seven triple jumps, all with a positive GOE, during his free skate, which also included a triple flip-triple toe in the second half. He earned a total of 191.16 points and matched his previous best finish -- second -- in a JGP event.

In third, earning his second medal in a JGP event this season, was Mikhail Kolyada of Russia. Kolyada earned silver at JGP Latvia earlier this season. He finished with 189.41 points.

American Shotaro Omori, the reigning world junior bronze medalist, was in a strong position after the short program, sitting in second with 70.58 points, but failed to medal due to an eighth-place finish in the free skate. He wound up in fifth place overall with 183.15 points.

Omori's teammate, Nix Phengsy finished his JGP debut in 16th place.

Pairs

Russia earned all three medals in the pairs event, led by Maria Vigalova and Egor Zakroev, who won by nearly 15 points.

Vigalova and Zakroev, who have secured four medals on the JGP series but never a gold, stood atop the podium, sweeping the short program and free skate events. They finished with 168.10 points.

Impressively, not only did Vigalova and Zakroev complete their short program with all positive GOEs, but they were the only pair to complete their free skate with a positive GOE for each of their 11 elements.

Russians Lina Fedorova and Maxim Miroshkin earned the silver medal with 153.95 points. The reigning Russian junior titlists and world junior bronze medalists finished in second in each segment of the competition. They are also the reigning JGP Final champions and look poised to defend their title in December.

In third, Russians Oksana Nagalati and Maxim Bobrov entered the free skate in fifth place, but earned the third best score in the segment for a bronze-medal finish of 132.25 points.

Americans Chelsea Liu and Devin Perini had the fourth best free skate and landed in fifth place overall with 128.81 points.

Team USA's Kaitlin Budd and Nikita Cheban finished seventh with 122.95 points.

Ice dance

In the ice dance event, Russians Anna Yanovskaya and Sergei Mozgov swept the short and free dances to win by more than 12 points. The reigning Russian junior bronze medalists earned their second gold medal of the JGP season, securing their place in the JGP Final, with a total of 143.39 points. Their combined performance included four Level 4 elements, and each of their 13 elements during the event received a positive GOE.

Americans Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons finished in second place in both dances and earned 131.10 points for their silver medal. The siblings dazzled during the short program with the top two scoring elements of the day, 7.43 points for each of their step sequences.

Entering the free dance in fourth place, Americans Holly Moore and Daniel Klaber earned their first JGP medal, bronze, with 123.91 points. During their Perez Prado medley free dance, the duo received positive GOEs throughout, including Level 4 on their curve lift and combination spin.

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