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Samohin wins Israel's first-ever world junior title

Nadeau nabs silver; Hiwatashi brings home bronze; Fedichkina in front
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Buoyed by three excellent quads, Daniel Samohin stormed from ninth place after the short program to take the world junior title, the first ever for his native Israel. -Getty Images

The 2016 World Junior Figure Skating Championships 2016 continued Friday in Debrecen, Hungary, with the ladies short program and men's free skate.


Israel's Daniel Samohin surged from ninth place to strike gold and make history by winning the first ISU championship title for his country. It was also the first medal for Israel at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships. Nicolas Nadeau of Canada claimed the silver medal, and the bronze went to Team USA's Tomoki Hiwatashi.

Performing to music from Sherlock Holmes, Samohin nailed a quad toe-triple toe, quad salchow and a solo quad toe, as well as a triple axel and three more triples. The Israeli skater earned a new personal-best score of 165.38 points and racked up 236.65 points overall.

"I was asked if I do aim to fight for the gold medal, and I said I'll try my best," Samohin said. "There are a lot of great skaters here, so I couldn't be sure that I'd be first. It's pretty crazy to come from almost 10th place to the top three. It's really great. For Israel, it is amazing."

Nadeau turned in a solid performance to music from Mary Poppins that featured at triple axel-triple toe and another triple axel, as well as four more triples and Level 4 footwork. He only under-rotated his quadruple toe. The 18-year-old posted a new personal-best score with 150.86 points and accumulated 224.76 points overall to pull up from eighth after the short program.

"I was coming to do a top five. So after the short program, I just wanted to do a good program for the long," Nadeau said. "If I had done the same program and would be in a lower position, I'd still feel pretty good about it and surprised that I did my best. Last year I was 25th. I didn't even do the long program."

Hiwatashi hit two triple axels and five triples in his Charlie Chaplin program. However, one more triple -- a single flip -- didn't count as he already had repeated two other jumps. The U.S. junior champion nevertheless earned a personal-best score with 147.55 points, which added up to 222.52 points. The 16-year-old moved up from sixth place to claim bronze in his debut at this event.

"I came here as a substitute for Nathan Chen, and I wasn't expecting to get this position right now. I was only aiming for top eight or 10," Hiwatashi said. "I just wanted America to get three places for junior worlds. It was really fun out there; I did a clean program. When I landed the second triple axel, I just felt I was going to make it."

Russia's Alexander Samarin dropped from second to fourth at 222.11 points. Team USA's Vincent Zhou finished fifth (221.19 points), and Russian Dmitri Aliev slipped from first to sixth (211.18 points). Latvia's Deniss Vasiļjevs dropped to eighth (204.75 points).


Russia's Alisa Fedichkina and Japan's Marin Honda are tied following the short program. Each skater earned 66.11 points, but the higher technical score for Fedichkina put her in first place. Maria Sotskova of Russia is third.

Performing to Tchaikovsky's "Valse Sentimentale," Fedichkina produced a double axel, triple lutz-triple toe combination, triple flip, and Level 4 spins and footwork. The Junior Grand Prix (JGP) finalist came close to her personal best with 66.11 points.

"I'm pleased with my performance. I wanted to skate clean, and that's what I did," the 14-year-old said. "I was able to cope with my nerves, and I'm happy with my result."

Honda's performance was highlighted by a triple loop-triple toe combination, double axel, triple flip, and excellent steps and footwork.

"I'm satisfied with today's performance, and I hope I can do the same tomorrow (in the free skate)," the JGP Final bronze medalist said.

Sotskova landed a triple lutz-triple toe combination, triple flip and double axel in her routine to "Black Magic Woman" by Santana, but her flying sit spin merited only a Level 2. The JGP Final silver medalist earned 64.78 points.

"I did almost everything as planned, with the exception of the flying sit spin. I hope tomorrow everything will work out," Sotskova said. "With Polina [Tsurskaya's] withdrawal (the JGP Final champion withdrew before the short program after spraining her right ankle during the morning practice session), obviously you feel there might be a chance to win. But I don't want to think about that and just focus on my job."

Team USA's Bradie Tennell is in fourth with 58.56 points, followed by Japan's Wakaba Higuchi in fifth (58.08 points) and Latvia's Angelina Kuchvalska in sixth (57.92 points). American Tyler Pierce sits seventh with 56.56 points.