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Hanyu edges Song for junior title

Miner is third; Sui, Han win pairs

Ross Miner will not compete at the 2010 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.
Ross Miner will not compete at the 2010 World Junior Figure Skating Championships. (Kitty DeLio LaForte)

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By Alexandra Stevenson, special to icenetwork.com
(12/04/2009) - Top qualifier Yuzura Hanyu of Japan edged out China's Nan Song by 1.78 points for the junior men's title.

Performing to Rachmaninov's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," the two-time Japanese junior champion, who is only 15, opened with a triple Axel, followed by a triple Lutz, double toe combination.

Although Hanyu fell on a second triple Axel attempt, he landed a triple Lutz and a triple Salchow, triple toe combination in the second half of his program to win the free with a personal best 136.92 points. He took gold with 206.77 overall.

Overnight leader Song, a 19-year-old from the very far north city of Qiqihar, open his free to Once Upon a Time in America in spectacular fashion, hitting a triple Axel, triple toe combination and a second triple Axel. However, higher program components gave Hanyu the win.

"I make some changes after every competition," Song said. "Usually I don't make mistakes."

Three U.S. entrants finished third, fourth and fifth.

U.S. junior champion Ross Miner, second after the short, could not quite match the jumping firepower of the top two skaters.

Performing to a Tango medley, the Bostonian landed an opening triple Axel but faltered on the landing of a triple Lutz and doubled an intended triple Salchow. Miner was fourth in the free and won bronze with 196.09 overall, a new personal best.

"I'm relieved," Miner said. "I feel really excited to get a medal. I'm pretty happy that I kept everything together."

Two triple Axels, one in combination with a triple toe, helped Richard Dornbush defeat Miner in the free and place fourth overall with 191.80. He won bronze in this event last season.

"Going into this competition, my goal was to do the two best skates I could," Dornbush said. "The free skate was definitely what I was looking for. Not necessarily to do a clean program but to feel like I did the best I could do at the time and I think I did that."

Grant Hochstein, fourth after the short, had to settle for fifth place after falling on his downgraded triple Axel.

"I came in expecting to win, not in an arrogant way but you don't train with the idea of losing," Hochstein said. "I've learned a lot. I'm moving in the right direction. I'm going to be competing at nationals in seniors."

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China ran away with the pair title, defeating Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran of Japan by 14.65 points.

The Chinese had a powerful free skate to Charlie Chaplin's City Lights, earning 103.65 for huge elements including a double Axel sequence, throw triple flip, triple twist and throw triple Salchow.

The Japanese won silver with 145.80, while another Chinese pair, Yue Zhang and Lei Wang, improved from fifth after the short to claim bronze.

The sole U.S. entrants, Britney Simpson and Nathan Miller of Colorado Springs, moved up from seventh to sixth place overall with a graceful routine set to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

Lynn Rutherford contributed to this article