Ice Network

Yanovskaia, Mozgov cap off junior career with title

McNamara, Carpenter earn silver; Nazarova, Nikitin rally for bronze
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
The junior dance medalists (L-R): Silver medalists Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter of the U.S., gold medalists Anna Yanovskaia and Sergei Mozgov of Russia and bronze medalists Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin of Ukraine. -Klaus-Reinhold Kany

Russia's Anna Yanovskaia and Sergei Mozgov, who claimed silver at this event last season, added gold to their resume at the 2015 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, on Saturday.

Their win marked the 29th time ice dancers from Russia or the Soviet Union have won world junior crowns since the competition was established in 1976. The U.S. ranks second with seven titles.

Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter picked up the first medals of the event for the U.S., taking silver. They placed fourth at this event last season.

Yanovskaia and Mozgov, who train in Moscow under Svetlana Alexeeva and her daughter, Elena Kustarova, finished with 155.92 points -- some nine points ahead of the field. They performed their free dance with good energy and excellent expression. Their program component scores (PCS) averaged 8.1 points, and they gained one nine-point score for interpretation, a very high mark for a junior team.

All seven elements were excellent, earning mainly +2 Grades of Execution (GOEs) with a smattering of +3s. The highlights were the two lifts and the combination spin, which all gained Level 4, as well as the choreographed lift. The other three elements earned Level 3 from the technical panel.

¨We have only positive feelings now," Yanovskaia said. "We won the free dance and the overall [title]. In this season, we achieved everything in juniors we could achieve. We will move to seniors now. It is a completely different level from juniors and the skating will be different. We will have to work a lot."

"We don't have any plans yet for the senior career," Mozgov said. "We want to prepare and to fix the mistakes we did and add choreography and emotions and relationship to our skating."

Yanovskaia spoke about their free dance, choreographed by Kustarova to an Argentine Tango medley.

"Our program is about a man and woman meeting in a restaurant; it is about passion, emotion and love," she said. "We developed it over the course of the whole season, and I think here at this competition, we were able to bring it across the best."

Once again, ice dance proved the most successful discipline for U.S. skaters at a major international event. This time, credit goes to Alexei Kiliakov, Elena Novak and Dmytri Ilin of the Wheaton Ice Skating Academy (WISA), who have coached McNamara and Carpenter, as well as fourth-place finishers Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons, for the past decade.

Skating to selections from Phantom of the Opera, McNamara and Carpenter gained Level 4's for their spin and lifts, with many +2 GOEs. Their program components averaged about 7.6, and they earned 146.90 points to just edge Ukrainians Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin.

"We just really wanted to put out a strong, solid skate and show our improvement from what we did earlier this year and since our last international competition," McNamara said. "We wanted to show all the improvements that we've made, all the growth that we had. I think we did that today."

"I don't think either of us can be disappointed with how we skated," Carpenter said. "It was very solid. As always, there were little things. No performance is perfect, but we both really enjoyed the skate we did today and it was what we needed to do."

Carpenter thinks portraying the characters of skating's favorite Andrew Lloyd Webber musical inspired them to reach new heights.

"Phantom of the Opera is a classic piece that a lot of people have skated to, but we just felt a really deep connection with this music," he said. "It was really easy for us to portray the characters and to live the program because of the connection we have with the music. It's going to be hard to say goodbye to the program."

Nazarova and Nikitin, who train with Alexander Zhulin in Moscow, climbed from fifth after the short dance to win the bronze medal with 146.08 points, after the notching the event's second-best free dance score. They impressed judges and spectators with their spectacular lifts done in hydro blading positions.

"We are satisfied with our performance; it was one of the best we've done," Nikitin said. "For me personally, it is very nice that it was successful, especially the twizzles, because at the Junior Grand Prix here in Tallinn, I did a rather big mistake."

Performing their free dance to Notre-Dame de Paris, the Parsons siblings earned 140.94 points. Their superb opening combination spin, and the two lifts, gained Level 4, while their step sequences were rated Level 2 and 3.

"We will use this as a stepping stone for next season," Michael said. "We are happy with the placement, but we certainly wish we could have been higher. We will work as hard as possible for next season to choose very good music and do even better performances." 

Canadians MacKenzie Bent and Garrett MacKeen dropped from second after the short dance to fifth overall after MacKeen fell during the diagonal step sequence. Last season's world junior bronze medalists, Canada's Madeline Edwards and Zhao Kai Pang, placed sixth.

U.S. junior bronze medalists Elliana Pogrebinsky and Alex Benoit, who train in Novi, Michigan, under Igor Shpilband, placed 13th. They skated in an elegant style and with good edges to music from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, but Benoit fell twice during the twizzle sequence, and the team did not earn any points for the element.

"Apart from my mistake on the twizzles, we are happy with the things that we did," Benoit said. "I think we feel very good about our components. We put out all our emotions [into the free dance]."

"The twizzle was one of these fluke mistakes," he continued. "I was a little off on the entry. We plan to remain juniors and to work hard with Igor in the spring and summer."

The WISA teams' placements earned the U.S. three ice dance spots for the 2016 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Tallinn tidbit: Next season's world junior championships were originally announced for Debrecen, Hungary, a city 130 miles east of Budapest. However, Hungarian figure skating officials in Tallinn said they will likely suggest to the International Skating Union that the championships be moved to Budapest, because of its international airport (Debrecen has none) and superior ice facilities.