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Krasnozhon takes charge on Day 1 in Nagoya

Russian ladies sweep short program; Panfilova, Rylov claim top pairs spot
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Seeking to complete a personal trifecta on this season's Junior Grand Prix circuit, Alex Krasnozhon jumped out to a solid start with yet another stunning display of his "Korobushka" short. The American, who registered a personal-best 81.33 points in the segment, is once again in line for another gold medal after earning the top slot in the segment. -Getty Images

Russia's Alexandra Trusova vaulted to the top of the ladies standings on the opening day of competition at the 2017 Junior Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan, holding off teammates Alena Kostornaia and Anastasia Tarakanova in the process. In the men's field, Team USA's Alex Krasnozhon grabbed the advantage over Russia's Alexey Erokhov, while Russia's Apollinariia Panfilova and Dmitry Rylov own the top spot in pairs.


Skating to "Big Spender" and "Jumpin' Jack," Trusova reeled off a triple flip-triple loop, a triple lutz, and a double axel to go along with three Level 4 spins and Level 4 footwork. The 13-year-old from Moscow posted a new personal best with 73.25 points, which positioned her atop the standings.

"I was hoping to get over 70 points, but I didn't know what the score would be. I never had such a high score," Trusova said. "At the end, my music is fun and the audience clapped along and I wanted to show even more emotions. My spins could be faster and there is always something to improve."

Regarding the addition of a quadruple salchow in her free skate, Trusova added: "I hope to finally do a clean one."

Kostornaia landed a triple flip-triple toe, a triple lutz and difficult spins in her tango program, and when it was all said and done, the 14-year-old set a new personal best with 71.65 points, which was good enough for second in the segment.

"I was a little nervous only during the warm-up, which is just before the competitions, because it is my first serious competition," Kostornaia said. "In general, I did everything I could. I was ready to get such scores because I work really hard. It is the result of our coaches' work and I'm just a performer. Now, I want to skate my free program as well as I was skating today."

Tarakanova delivered a strong rendition of her short program, which was set Ludovico Einaudi's "Fly" and "Experience." Her program featured a triple flip-triple toe, triple lutz and a double axel, with those elements helping the 13-year-old achieve a personal best mark of 67.90.

"I did all my elements, so I was looking forward to the points, maybe up to 68 or 69 today. But 67.90 is my best score," she said. "I would like to skate more relaxed in free skate and to make the crowd enjoy my skating. I was first to skate in the team of Russia, so that made me more nervous."

Rika Kihira of Japan placed fourth in the segment with 66.82 points, with Russians Daria Panenkova (65.65 points) and Sofia Samodurova (65.01) slotting fifth and sixth, respectively.


Krasnozhon's "Khorobushko" program was highlighted by a triple axel, triple lutz, a rare triple flip-triple loop combination as well as by three Level 4 spins. The two-time Junior Grand Prix Finalist posted a new personal best score of 81.33 points in the segment, which was strong enough to place him first in the field.

"I tried to perform at the best level possible in each element, and enjoyed the performance in front of a big crowd in Japan, which is a rare opportunity," Krasnozhon said. "I'm happy that I am in first place now, but the short program doesn't mean anything, because there are only six strong skaters and the free program is more important."

Looking to remain within striking distance of the American, Erokhov produced a triple axel, triple flip-triple toe, triple lutz and two Level 4 spins in his routine to Patrick Watson's "Lighthouse." His segment mark of 78.39 points places him in podium position entering the free skate.

"It was not a bad performance, but not the best I could do," Erokhov said. "There were some small issues, like the change foot camel spin, that was only a Level 3. Tomorrow, I want to show everything, including three quads."

Skating to "Singin' in the Rain'," Japan's Mitsuki Sumoto completed a triple axel, triple lutz and a triple flip-triple toe combination to set a personal best of 77.10 points, helping him lock up third place after the short program in the process.

"I have been struggling with my triple axel during practice but I was very happy to land it in competition," the 16-year-old said. "I was able to not think too much, just to concentrate. I was not so nervous. I could hear the audience cheering for me, the loudest cheer I have ever had, and I was able to change that into my power."

Slotting fourth in the segment with 75.78 points was Russia's Makar Ignatov, while a pair of Americans, Camden Pulkinen (70.90 points) and Andrew Torgashev (64.73), currently sit in fifth and sixth position.


Panfilova and Rylov's program to "Black Velvet" featured a triple twist, the required side-by side-double lutz, a solid throw triple loop and a Level 4 death spiral, lift and pairs combination spin. The Russian team, who earned gold and bronze medals on the JGP circuit this season, picked up a season's best of 60.81 points in the segment to take a slim lead atop the standings.

"It was the best short program of the season so far," Panfilova said. "I was not nervous at all, very calm, and it felt easy to skate here in Japan. We have been working on the quad twist, but it is not consistent yet, so we won't show it in the free program yet."

Alexandrovskaya and Windsor, the reigning world junior champions, turned in a solid performance to Hidden Citizen's "Paint It Black," producing a triple twist and three Level 4 elements, and, despite Alexandrovskaya touching down on their throw triple loop, the Australians were still able to slot second in the segment with 60.26 points.

"We are pretty happy with it," Windsor said. "Obviously, we made a mistake on the throw but everything else was pretty good.

"We are just going to take it step by step, trying not to think of the Olympics too much," he added, when asked about the season to this point. "Our preparation has been pretty good and we have been skating pretty good, too."

Skating to music from Cloud Atlas, Russia's Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin landed a triple twist and a side-by-side double lutz, but she went down on the throw triple loop. Despite the hiccup, the pair would go on to receive Level 4 grading for five elements, enabling them to place third in the segment with 59.51 points.

"I was a little nervous. There were many spectators, but on the other hand, I like it when there are spectators," Pavliuchenko said. "I rushed it (the throw triple loop) and you never should do that. There is room for improvement."

World junior bronze medalists Yumeng Gao and Zhong Xie of China finished fourth with 59.47 points, while Russians Anastasia Poluianova and Dmitry Sopot (57.28 points), and world junior silver medalists Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii (55.92 points) finished fifth and sixth, respectively.