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Tsurskaya headed to JGP Final after topping ladies

Russian duos sweep pairs podium; Americans sit 1-2 after short dance
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The ladies medalists (L-R): Silver medalist Ekaterina Mitrofanova of Russia, gold medalist Polina Tsurskaya of Russia and bronze medalist Rin Nitaya of Japan. -Getty Images

Russia continued to set the pace Friday at the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) in Torun, Poland, winning gold and silver in the ladies event and sweeping the pairs podium.

Ladies

Bringing a 3.35-point lead into the free skate, Russia's Polina Tsurskaya held on to the top spot with a clean performance to music from the musical Chess. Coupled with the gold she won at her JGP debut in Slovakia in August, Tsurskaya will compete at the JGP Final this December in Barcelona, Spain.

After opening with a triple lutz-triple toe-double toe combination that received Grades of Execution (GOEs) of +2 across the board, Tsurskaya completed her remaining six jumping passes, which included a second triple lutz-triple toe in the second half of her program for a highlight distribution bonus. She earned a personal-best 126.81 points for the segment, en route to a total score of 187.85.

Tsurskaya's teammate, Ekaterina Mitrofanova, also maintained her standing after the short program, earning silver with 166.63 points. Mitrofanova placed sixth at the JGP in Colorado Springs earlier this month and set personal-best scores in every segment of competition in Torun. Her tango-themed, 108.94-point free skate included seven triple jumps and two Level 4 spins.

Pulling up from fourth was Japan's Rin Nitaya, who took home bronze with 161.89 points. She earned 107.83 for her Romeo and Juliet free, earning her second career JGP medal after winning silver last season at JGP France. Nitaya finished fourth at JGP Slovakia in August.

Americans Megan Wessenberg and Akari Nakahara finished seventh and eighth with 140.70 and 135.24 points, respectively, in their JGP debuts.

Pairs

Leading the Russian pairs contingent, Ekaterina Borisova and Dmitry Sopot earned their second JGP medal of the season after winning bronze earlier this month in Latvia. The duo set personal-best scores in both segments of the event, earning 158.82 total points. Their free skate, set to music from Lawrence of Arabia, featured a rotational lift that earned a Level 4 and a program-high 8.10 points. They earned 103.42 points for the segment.

Despite finishing fourth in the free skate, short program winners Amina Atakhanova and Ilia Spiridonov earned silver with 149.52 total points. The team struggled on each of their jumping elements, stumbling on their opening side-by-side triple toes, receiving a downgrade on triple salchows and negative GOEs on both throws. However, their program components score of 52.63 was the highest of the event by more than three points and bumped them up to a segment score of 89.82.

Russian teammates Anastasia Gubanova and Alexei Sintsov rebounded from a fourth place finish in the short program with the second-highest free skate of the day. Earning 96.79 points for the segment and 147.03 total, the JGP USA champions took home bronze .

Team USA's Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson placed fifth with 135.25 points, while their compatriots, Joy Weinberg and Maximiliano Fernandez, placed seventh with a score of 127.12.

Ice Dance

Team USA holds the top two spots after the short dance, with U.S. junior champions Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter leading the way. The duo hopes to punch their ticket to the JGP Final after taking gold at JGP USA.

Skating to selections of music by Edvard Grieg, McNamara and Carpenter earned a Level 4 on four of their five elements, only settling for a Level 3 on their midline side-by-side step sequence. Their segment score of 65.42 leads the field by 4.29 points.

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko are poised to earn their first career JGP medal after placing fourth at their last two events in Estonia (2014) and Latvia (2015). Their Charlie Chaplin-themed short dance earned a personal-best score of 61.13 points and featured Level 3s and 4s on each of their elements.  

Less than one point separates the next three teams, with Russians Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin holding third with 57.98. Their teammates, Sofia Polishchuk and Alexander Vakhnov, are fourth with 57.65, ahead of Canadians Melinda and Andrew Meng, who earned 57.61.