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American men finish 1-2 at Junior Grand Prix Final

Krasnozhon, Pulkinen win gold, silver; Australians claim victory in pairs
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Americans Alex Krasnozhon (right) and Camden Pulkinen earned the gold and silver medals, respectively, at the 2017 Junior Grand Prix Final. -Atsushi Tomura - ISU/Getty Images

Team USA's Alex Krasnozhon and Camden Pulkinen earned the top two places on the men's podium Friday on the second day of competition at the 2017 Junior Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan. In the pairs discipline, Australia's Ekaterina Alexandrovskaia and Harley Windsor won the gold medal, while Russia's Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin took a leg up in ice dance.

Men

Krasnozhon opened his Gladiator routine with a quad loop (which was judged under-rotated) and went on to land eight clean triples, including two axels and a triple lutz-triple loop. The 17-year-old set a new personal best in the free skate with 155.02 points and racked up 236.35 total points to win the title.

"It was pretty good. There is still a lot to improve (on) going into nationals, but I am happy today," Krasnozhon said. "I was here to get the gold medal, and I was able to take it."

Pulkinen's performance to Chopin included two triple axels and five more triples. The American picked up 146.20 points, a new personal best, bringing his total to 217.10.

"I feel amazing!" Pulkinen exclaimed. "My goal here was not really about placement, so I just wanted to deliver two good programs and improve on my season's best, which I did. I'm really happy about that, so I have a lot to take from this competition."

Skating to Les Misérables, Sumoto fell on his opening triple axel but recovered to produce six clean triples. The 16-year-old earned 137.35 points on the day, which added up to 214.45 overall.

"Overall, I feel good about my performance and the result," Sumoto said. "Actually, I was not calculating the points in my head, but when I saw 'third' on the screen for my free program, I thought, 'I could make the podium this time.' I was so excited when I found out that I was going to be on the podium."

Makar Ignatov of Russia came in fourth with 211.99 points. His countryman, Alexei Erokhov, dropped from second to fifth after missing several jumps, while Team USA's Andrew Torgashev placed sixth. 

Pairs

Alexandrovskaia and Windsor's program to music from The Mask was highlighted by a triple twist, triple toe-double toe-double toe combination, throw triple flip, throw triple salchow and Level 4 lifts. The only major glitch came when he fell on the side-by-side triple salchow. The Australians still picked up 113.59 points for the performance, elevating their total to a title-clinching 173.85 points.

"It was a little tough, at least for me," Windsor said. "There was one big mistake, but we are happy that we pushed through it and everything else was relatively OK."

Skating to Alice in Wonderland, Appollinariia Panfilova and Dmitri Rylov completed a triple twist, double axel, throw triple loop and throw triple flip. Earning 112.20 points, the team from Perm improved their personal best for the free skate significantly, and with 173.01 total points, the short program leaders managed to secure the silver medal.

"I am satisfied with our performance. I think we lost points on the jumps; we only do double axel and a double-double combination," Panfilova said. "We want to add a triple jump for the next competition, which is senior nationals."

"I am in shock," Rylov added. "I did not expect [to medal]. All the others have triples in their program and we don't."

Fellow Russians Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin landed a triple toe-triple toe sequence, triple twist, triple salchow and throw triple loop in their Chicago routine. The Muscovites ranked second in the free skate after accruing a personal-best 113.43 points, and their overall mark of 172.94 helped them win the bronze medal.

World junior bronze medalists Yumeng Gao and Zhong Xie of China remained in fourth place with 165.03 points. Russia's Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii (160.80 points), and Anastasia Poluianova and Dmitri Sopot (160.47 points) finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

Ice dance

Skoptcova and Aleshin put out a technically demanding performance, earning Level 4 grading for their cha cha pattern dance, twizzles and curve lift, while their side-by-side footwork earned Level 3. The couple from Moscow set a new personal best with 65.87 points, which launched them to the top of the standings.

"We were calm. It felt like at home in practice," Skoptcova said. "Just to skate clean is not enough; you need to improve every time."

Carrreira and Ponomarenko's dance featured a Level 4 lift and a cha cha pattern sequence. Despite receiving only a Level 2 for their twizzles, the 2017 world junior bronze medalists still recorded a personal-best segment score of 64.10 points.

"We are really happy with how our performance went. We didn't get some of the levels, so we need to work on that," Ponomarenko said. "Besides that, it was great, and we are excited for tomorrow."

Sofia Polishuk and Alexander Vakhnov turned in a strong dance to their own arrangement of cha cha and samba pieces, collecting Level 4 marks for three elements. Their new personal best of 63.17 points proved good enough for third in the segment.

"We did everything we planned. Of course, there are always things we must work on, but for this moment, we showed everything we could," Vakhnov said. "All the mistakes we did before, and which we worked on, we managed to correct here."

Canada's Majorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha finished fourth with 60.52 points, edging Sofia Shevchenko and Igor Eremenko of Russia, who secured 60.10 points. Russia's Arina Ushakova and Maxim Nekrasov placed sixth with 58.53 points.