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Russia's dominant run continues at JGP Estonia

Aaron, Settlage claim JGP Final first pairs alternate spot
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The competitors for Team USA had a grand time at the season's final Junior Grand Prix event, in Tallinn, Estonia. -courtesy of Holly Moore

At the final Junior Grand Prix (JGP) event of the season, in Tallinn, Estonia, Russia continued its impressive medal haul as its skaters collected an additional seven medals. In total, Russia has earned a total of 38 medals this season, twice the amount of the second-best nation, the United States, which collected 17 medals.

Ladies

In the ladies event, Russian junior silver medalist Serafima Sakhanovich rallied from a fourth-place showing in the short program to win the free skate and the gold medal.

She recovered from her disappointing short, which included a fall on a triple loop, by opening her free skate with a strong triple flip-triple toe -- an element that earned a program-high 10.10 points -- and landing her loop. Along with the best components score of the segment, Sakhanovich completed her comeback from off the podium to top of the podium with 109.31 points the segment and 164.48 points overall.

Sakhanovich's Russian teammate, Elizaveta Iushenko, won the short program and finished second overall with 159.86 points. Iushenko took the initial lead on the strength of a clean program, which included an opening triple toe-triple toe combination and two Level 4 spins. The 59.18 points she amassed in the short helped her to her first Junior Grand Prix medal.

In third place was Miyabi Oba of Japan, who finished with a personal best score of 152.13, topping her previous best (set when she finished eighth at the 2011 World Junior Championships.) Oba was second after the short program, but finished sixth in the free skate to drop her overall position to third.

Americans Tyler Pierce and Hannah Miller rallied from the short program to finish in sixth and 12th, respectively. After a 10th-place finish in the short, Pierce racked up 97.07 points for her free skate, the third-best score of the segment. Miller was 16th after the short program and placed inside the top 10 in the free skate, in eighth, with 89.03 points.

Men's

In the men's event, Boyang Jin of China won the free skate and the gold medal with 210.85 points. Jin set new personal bests in both segments of the event but won gold on the strength of a 141.79-point effort in his free skate. Jin opened his free skate with the lone landed quad, a Salchow, in the event. He later landed a triple Lutz-triple toe combination en route to the best technical score by more than six points.

Despite winning the short program, Mikhail Kolyada of Russia finished with the sixth-best free skate to earn the silver medal with 201.26 total points. During his winning short program, the Russian junior champion opened with a triple Lutz-triple toe with a 1.10 grade of execution (GOE) and a huge triple Axel with a 1.71 GOE. He would earn a personal best 74.90 points for his short program en route to his best career finish on the JGP circuit.

After a performance at Nebelhorn Trophy which earned the Philippines a spot in the 2014 Olympic Games, Michael Christian Martinez earned 198.82 points and a bronze medal at JGP Estonia.

Pairs

Russia has dominated the pairs events on the JGP series all season long, earning 12 of the 15 medals awarded, but it was Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin of China who were able to win their second gold medal of the season with 173.58 points. The reigning Chinese champions set a new personal best score in what has been a very successful JGP season for the pair.

Yu and Jin earned a grade of Level 4 on six of their elements during the competition and, impressively, were the only team during the short program to avoid a negative GOE score from any judge on any element.

Russians Vasilisa Davankova and Andrei Deputat finished in second in both segments of the competition and earned the silver medal with 161.03 points. The medal is their second of the season after earning bronze in Minsk, and it's enough to qualify the pair for the JGP Final in December, where they earned silver last year.

Davankova and Deputat set an personal best score for their short program, which tallied 61.48 points. During that skate, the pair earned Level 4's for four of their elements, including 6.86 points for their lasso lift.

Their Russian teammates, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, earned the bronze medal with 156.69 points. The Russian junior silver medalists will also qualify for the JGP Final after earning silver in Latvia earlier this season.

American pairs Madeline Aaron and Max Settlage, and Kaitlin Budd and Nikita Cheban finished in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Aaron and Settlage set new personal best scores in each segment of the competition and are the first alternates to the JGP Final. Budd and Cheban set new personal best scores in the free skate and for their total score.

Ice dance

In ice dance, Anna Yanovskaya and Sergei Mozgov earned their second gold medal of the JGP season as they set new personal best scores throughout the event. Opening with 61.79 points for their short dance, the reigning Russian junior bronze medalists recorded 88.19 points for their free dance and 149.98 points overall.

During their free dance, Yanovskaya and Mozgov earned Level 4's on their opening twizzles, three lifts and a spin. More so than their 43.64 points for their elements, Yanovskaya and Mozgov had by far the best score for their components.

The 11th-place finishers at last year's world junior championships, Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin of Ukraine won their second silver medal of the season with 134.78 points and have qualified for the JGP Final. The couple earned 82.89 points for their free dance, which included five Level 4 elements and not a single negative GOE from any judges for any of their eight elements.

In third place were Russians Daria Morozova and Mikhail Zhirnov with 127.78 points, narrowly finishing ahead of Americans Holly Moore and Daniel Klaber by 0.04 points. Morozova and Zhirnov earned their second bronze medal of the season on the strength of their free skate, which earned 74.05 points.

Moore and Klaber set personal best scores throughout the event and finished in second place in the short dance before a fourth-place finish in the free dance.

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