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Sakhanovich runs away with gold at JGP Slovenia

Keiser rallies for bronze; Morozova, Zhirnov take gold in ice dance
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Russia's Serafima Sakhanovich took home gold at JGP Slovenia after a dominating free skate Saturday. -Getty Images

Russian skaters had their way on the final day of the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) event in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Saturday. Serafima Sakhanovich ran away with the ladies competition after a dominating free skate, while Daria Morozova and Mikhail Zhirnov squeaked out a top finish in ice dance.

Sakhanovich opened competition on Thursday by gliding through her short program, tallying 66.58 points behind a triple flip-triple toe combination and a triple Lutz. Her performance featured three Level 4 spins. 

Her impressive free registered a score of 125.38, besting second-place finisher Yuka Nagai by nearly 20 points. Skating to "Oblivion" by Astor Piazzolla and "I Love You, I Hate You" by Raul di Blasio, Sakhanovich landed seven clean triples, including an opening triple flip-triple toe and a triple salchow-triple flip-double toe combination. She recorded career bests in both the short and free in what was her third medal in the series, and her second gold.

Japan's Nagai notched her first career medal at a JGP event, claiming silver after finishing second in both the short program and free skate. Using a successful triple toe-triple toe combination to begin the program, Nagai's 58.92-point short marked a career high. In her free skate, she landed three combination jumps, including an opening triple Lutz-triple toe and an impressive double Axel-triple toe-double toe in the second half of the program.

American Leah Keiser had a stellar Saturday, charging to the medal podium after an eighth-place short program. During her first action in Slovenia on Thursday, she fell on a triple toe combination to start her performance but salvaged the routine with a successful triple Lutz and double Axel. In her free skate to "Hungarian Dances" by Johannes Brahms, she opened with three clean triples, and later landed two combination jumps: a double Axel-triple toe and triple Lutz-double toe. The bronze medal represented her second-career podium finish in the JGP Series; she captured the gold at JGP Turkey in 2012.

Daria Morozova and Mikhail Zhirnov hung on to win in ice dance for their first career gold-medal finish at a JGP event. Canada's Brianna Delmaestro and Timothy Lum took second, and Americans Holly Moore and Daniel Klaber took home bronze -- their second career third-place finish in the series.

Morozova and Zhirnov were first after their short dance, a performance highlighted by a midline step sequence which garnered a 1.10 Grade of Execution (GOE). In their free dance skated to music from the Mirrors soundtrack by Javier Navarette, the Russian duo finished third, with yet another outstanding step sequence (2.20 GOE) and a Level 3 spin.

Canadians Delmaestro and Lum finished second in both events, avoiding any missteps in both routines. The team scored a career-high 82.16 points in their free dance, largely due to a pair of step sequences that each pulled in a 1.76 GOE.

Americans Holly Moore and Daniel Klaber recovered from a third-place short dance to put together the competition's top free dance and secure the bronze medal. The team's Addams Family free dance garnered a career-high 82.72 points. The tandem completed a Level 4 twizzle sequence to open the performance, and followed with a straight line lift (1.20 GOE) and a serpentine step sequence (1.32 GOE). Moore and Klaber wrapped up the routine with a Level 3 step sequence, which pulled in a 1.76 GOE.

Making their international debuts, Americas Julia Biechler and Damian Dodge finished in fifth place with 115.32 points. The team finished fifth in the short dance and fourth in the free dance.

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