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U.S., Russia dominate podium in Chemnitz

Two countries amount for three of four golds at JGP Germany

Americans Jessica Rose Paetsch and Jon Nuss won their first gold at the junior level.
Americans Jessica Rose Paetsch and Jon Nuss won their first gold at the junior level. (Michelle Harvath )

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(10/13/2007) - The United States and Russia won four medals apiece, including three of the four golds, at the Junior Grand Prix Series event this week in Chemnitz, Germany. Brandon Mroz of the U.S. won the gold in the men's event, and fellow Americans Jessica Rose Paetsch and Jon Nuss took home top honors in pairs. Russians Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov lapped the field in ice dancing. German Sarah Hecken was the surprise winner in the ladies competition.

Ladies

Japan's Rumi Suizu took a lead of nearly nine points after the short program, in which she nailed her triple toe-triple toe combination en route to earning 56.53 points. In second after the short program was Canada's Myriane Samson (47.68 points) followed by American Rachael Flatt (47.64 points) in third. Like Suizu, Hecken landed her triple toe-triple toe cleanly, but two of her spins, as well as her straight line step sequence, were deemed level ones and, as a result, she stood in fifth after the first segment.

The free skate was a whole different story. Skating first in the last group, Hecken landed four triples, including triple Salchow-double toe and triple toe-double toe-double toe combinations. While her step sequence and spins were still only given level ones and twos, she came out with a segment score of 88.60 and posted an overall score of 134.05 that all the other skaters would have to chase.

Flatt rallied a bit in her "Romantic Rhapsody" free skate. Though she cleanly landed only three (Salchow, loop, flip) of her seven planned triples, her program component score (44.33) was easily the best of any skater in the segment. Her free skate score of 83.21 gave her 130.85 points overall, good enough for the silver medal. Coupled with her win in Austria, Flatt's placement in Germany guarantees her a spot in the JGP Final, Dec. 6-9 in Gdansk, Poland.

Skating last, Suizu had a nightmarish free skate. She failed to receive credit for an intended double Salchow and earned a minus-two Grade of Execution for her triple loop. The result was a segment score of 72.79, placing her seventh in the free skate and dropping her to third overall. This was Suizu's second JGP bronze medal of the season as she also finished third in Romania.

Japan's Ayane Nakamura, fourth in the short program, took third in the free skate to finish fourth overall. A pair of falls in the free skate dropped Samson to fifth overall.

Men

As he did in Austria, Mroz put himself in a hole in the short program only to rally in the free skate. He sat fourth after the first segment, nearly five points behind the leader, Michal Brezina, the Czech skater who recently won the Nebelhorn Trophy. Mroz came up big in his "King of the Forest" free skate, scoring 122.84 points to give him 179.73 for the competition. Combined with his win in Vienna, Mroz will make his second straight appearance in the JGP Final, where he finished second last season.

Brezina's free skate netted him 114.66 points. Added to his short program total, he finished with a score of 176.43, good for second place and his first medal in four tries on the JGP circuit. Takahito Mura, second in the short program, fell to third in the free skate and took the bronze.

Pairs

Paetsch and Nuss had redemption on their minds in Germany, after their first JGP appearance this season, in Lake Placid, N.Y., resulted in a disappointing fifth-place finish. They trailed short program leaders Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov, the 2007 world junior silver medalists from Russia, by a little more than a point, but they dug deep and came up with a career-best performance in the free skate. Their score of 89.21 was more than four points better than their previous high, set at last year's JGP Final, and gave them a competition score of 139.40.

Bazarova and Larionov's free skate earned them 77.46 points, giving them a total of 128.79. Fellow Russians Ksenia Krasilnikova and Konstantin Bezmaternikh, the 2006 JGP Final silver medalists, finished third in both segments to claim the bronze.

Ice Dancing

Gorshkova and Butikov were in control of the competition from the outset, winning all three segments and cruising to a 10.54-point victory over teammates Ekaterina Riazanova and John Guerreiro.

Riazanova and Guerreiro found themselves in fourth after the compulsory dance, but their second-place original dance moved them up to second overall. Though they stumbled a bit in the free dance, in which they came in only fourth, it was enough to edge Americans Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein by about a point and come away with the silver. It was the Russians' second silver medal of the JGP Series.

Chock and Zuerlein's experience in Chemnitz did not go quite as smoothly as their JGP debut last month in Estonia, where they led from start to finish en route to the gold. They were in second after the compulsories, but a fourth-place OD dropped them to fourth overall, about a point behind Ukranians Alisa Agafonova and Dmitri Dun. Chock and Zuerlein knew they needed to execute a career-best free dance, as Agafonova and Dun skated just before them in the last group, and that's just what they came up with, tallying 74.59 points for that segment, besting the 71.25 they scored in Tallinn. Their total competition score of 152.63 was a hair better than Agafonova and Dun's 151.56.

All three dance teams on the podium in Germany will compete in the JGP Final, Gorshkova and Butikov for the second year in a row.