Ice Network

Parsons leapfrog Russians to take world junior title

Carreira, Ponomarenko mine bronze; Russia's Zagitova wins ladies crown
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The U.S. ice dance medalists in Chinese Taipei -- Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons (left), and Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko -- hoist the Stars and Stripes behind them during the medal ceremony. -Getty Images

Team USA's Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons came from behind to capture the ice dance title and Alina Zagitova of Russia won the ladies crown going away at the 2017 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Free dance

The Parsons danced off with the gold medal, edging Alla Loboda and Pavel Drozd of Russia by 0.55 points. Team USA's Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko rose from sixth after the short to claim the bronze medal in their debut at the world junior championships.

Skating to a new arrangement of "Singin' in the Rain," the Parsons earned five Level 4's as well as a Level 3 for their diagonal step sequence. The only glitch in the otherwise smooth performance was a somewhat wobbly rotational lift. Nevertheless, the U.S. champions posted a personal-best score of 97.54 for the free dance and totaled 164.82 points to overtake the Russians.

"It feels incredible for us," Rachel Parsons said. "Michael and I had a really good season so far, and this is just the perfect way to cap off our junior career. We couldn't be more happy."

Dancing to "Malagueña," Loboda and Drozd earned a Level 4 for their twizzles, lifts, spin and circular step sequence. The 2016 world junior bronze medalists scored 96.78 points in the segment, which added up to 164.37 overall.

"I want to say thank you to all couples, because today we all shared our passion with the crowd and I think people liked it," Drozd said. "We lived the music, and this is the most important thing. We felt each other from the first second of the program until the end."

Carreira and Ponomarenko's performance to "Exogenesis: Symphony Part III" by Muse featured four Level 4 elements and Level 3 footwork. The U.S. silver medalists set a new personal best of 94.15 in the free dance and accumulated 154.88 points overall to claim the bronze.

"We came in, just wanted to skate two clean programs, and we're very happy it ended this way," Ponomarenko said.

Russia's Anastasia Shpilevaya and Grigory Smirnov remained in fourth place with 152.66 points. Their country mates, Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin, slipped from third to fifth, and Majorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha of Canada placed sixth.

Americans Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter, last season's world junior champions, finished seventh.

Ladies free

Zagitova earned the gold ahead of a couple of Japanese skaters, Marin Honda (silver) and Kaori Sakamoto (bronze). All three ladies set personal bests in the free skate.

Performing to Don Quixote, Zagitova reeled off seven triples -- all of which came in the second half of the program -- and earned Level 4's for her spins and footwork. The Junior Grand Prix Final champion garnered 138.02 points for her free skate and 208.60 overall to take the title in her debut at the world junior championships.

"Of course, it was very hard to skate right after Marin. I realized I could not make any mistake. If I make one mistake, I won't be first anymore; therefore, I was nervous," the 14-year-old said. "But when I got into my opening pose, all doubts disappeared."

Honda's performance to Romeo and Juliet featured a triple flip-triple toe as well as five more triples and Level 4 spins and footwork. The 2016 world junior champion was awarded 133.26 points for the performance and accumulated 201.61 overall.

"I believe I performed this year better compared to last year. However, I am still disappointed with the result and with the performance," the 15-year-old said.

Sakamoto completed seven triples and executed excellent spins and footwork in her routine to The Color Purple. Her segment score of 127.76 gave her 195.54 points overall.

"Two years ago, I could have won with this kind of performance. This year, the whole level of the competition is higher. So, I couldn't make any mistakes," Sakamoto said. "I am quite happy with my performance and that I didn't make any mistakes."

Eunsoo Lim of South Korea finished fourth with 180.81 points, followed by Japan's Yuna Shiraiwa (174.38 points) and Russian Stanislava Konstantinova (162.84).

Bradie Tennell of the United States took seventh, marking a four-spot improvement from her finish at the world junior championships last season.

Tennell's teammate, Starr Andrews, placed 12th.