Ice Network

Skyliners make history, win silver at junior worlds

Spartak Junost of Russia repeats as champions; Lexettes finish sixth
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Coach Josh Babb takes a selfie with his silver medal-winning team. -Susan Saloma

The Skyliners made history Saturday night in Zagreb, Croatia, winning the first-ever medal, a silver, by a U.S. team at the World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships. A free skate score of 104.67 and a total score of 169.82 was enough to keep the New York-based team in runner-up position after finishing second in Friday night's short program.

Spartak Junost repeated as world junior synchronized champions. The Russian team won both the short program and the free skate, earning 106.08 points for the latter and a total of 174.58.

Junost performed a clean rendition of its 'Giselle' free skate, earning program components ranging from 8.57 (transitions) to 8.89 (performance). The team's intersection received the highest element score of the competition, 8.14 points.

Skating to music from Black Swan, the Skyliners showed great intensity and expression throughout their performance. The 2018 U.S. junior champions landed on the second step of the podium after missing a medal by less than a point last year.

"Last year was really disappointing. We were so close to being on the podium, and this year was all about redemption, for us to get back on the podium," Skyliners team member Alexis Bolner said. "All season, we were aiming for that third-place spot, knowing there were a lot of good teams that were going to be here. To get the silver medal feels even better.

"I feel incredible. We have been working so hard all season, for this skate and this moment, and it feels great," Bolner continued. "It feels great to make history for U.S. figure skating."

Coach Josh Babb decided the team would skate to Black Swan after using the same music back in 2012.

"Sometimes, programs are never done to their fullest potential," Babb said. "We did the program back in 2012. It was sort of a newer thing back then. This is a very balletic team, and I thought it would be a good fit for them."

"Worlds is a totally different game than the international circuit, so I knew that they had the potential to do this, and I'm glad they reached it," Babb added, "Even though this is the team that won the medal, all of the (past) Skyliners helped pave the way."

Russia's Crystal Ice skated to music from Game of Thrones and received the highest technical score (37.96) of the night. The team's program components ranged from 8.00 (transitions) to 8.57 (performance).

Team USA's Lexettes were sixth after the short program, and, despite a fall in the move element during their La La Land free skate, were able to maintain that position in the final standings.

"I'm excited that we moved up a spot," said head coach Saga Krantz, whose team came in seventh last season. "Lexettes are now sixth in the world. Tonight's skate had a great energy and great feeling to it. It wasn't clean, but I still think that, as a coach, they gave their everything, and I'm very proud of them."

The team, which trains out of Lexington, Massachusetts, received maximum credit for its block and pairs element, and garnered eight +2 Grades of Execution for its no hold element, making it the highest-scoring element for Krantz's outfit.

"I'm proud of how we skated," Lexettes team member Giselle Castro said. "We did what we were meant to do. We started with a strong team, but every day we have improved."