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Parsons siblings lead ice dance at JGP Croatia

Samarin claims first JGP gold medal; Team USA's Hiwatashi wins bronze
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Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons are primed to return to the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) Final for the first time since 2013. -Getty Images

Alexander Samarin took his first career Junior Grand Prix (JGP) gold medal and Team USA's Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons took the lead in ice dance on the second day of competition in Zagreb, Croatia, on Friday.

Men's

Samarin, who just missed the podium at JGP Slovakia earlier this season, set personal-best scores in every segment of competition in Croatia. Skating to music from the Pearl Harbor soundtrack, Samarin earned 150.88 points, the highest free skate score by nearly seven points. His performance opened with a quadruple toe loop. He then followed with seven triple jumps, four of which earned the highlight distribution bonus. Entering the segment in second place, Samarin's free skate secured his place atop podium with 223.84 total points.

Less than a point behind, Canada's Nicolas Nadeau earned his highest-ever finish at a JGP event, taking home new personal-best scores and the silver medal with a total of 223.46 points. Skating to a medley of songs from the Mary Poppins soundtrack, Nadeau earned a Level 4 on two of his three spins and received a program components score (PCS) of 71.50, the highest of the event by 4.78 points. Although he doubled an intended triple toe loop, his other seven triple jumps were successful, giving him a segment score of 143.92.

Pulling up from fourth place after the short program, Team USA's Tomoki Hiwatashi used his Charlie Chaplin free skate to climb onto the podium with 197.62 points. Like Samarin and Nadeau, Hiwatashi also set personal-best scores across the board, topping previous bests that he set at JGP USA in September. Hiwatashi stumbled on his opening triple axel but rebounded to land six triple jumps, including a triple flip-triple toe combination in the second half of his program worth 11.36 points. He earned a segment score of 131.60 points, an impressive 5.78 points higher than his previous best free skate.

Hiwatashi's teammate, Tony Lu, earned 108.64 points for the segment, en route to a seventh-place finish and 169.46 total points.

Ice dance

The Parsons siblings lead the field by nearly six points after they earned 66.49 points during their Cinderella short dance. In an impressive performance, the U.S. junior silver medalists received positive Grades of Execution (GOEs) throughout and earned Level 4 across the board. The score marks a personal-best short dance score for the duo, more than seven points higher than their previous high, set earlier this season at JGP Slovakia.

Russian teams sit in second and third heading into Saturday's free dance, with Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin ahead of Sofia Shevchenko and Igor Eremenko. Skoptcova and Aleshin earned a personal-best 60.80 points for their performance, while Shevchenko and Eremenko came away with a score of 57.80. Both teams earned Level 4's on both sections of the required Starlight Waltz pattern dance, in addition to their straight-line lifts. Neither team received a single negative GOE.

Team USA's Gigi Becker and Luca Becker made their JGP debut, coming away with a short dance score of 51.41 points. They are in sixth place heading into the free dance.