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Sui, Han defend world junior pair crown

Russians take silver; U.S. teams place fourth and ninth

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han won pairs gold at world juniors.
Wenjing Sui and Cong Han won pairs gold at world juniors. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(03/03/2011) - Defending champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China won their second junior world title, despite a few mistakes in their free skate.

Russians Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov moved up to take silver, with Japan's Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran winning bronze. U.S. junior champions Ashley Cain and Joshua Reagan had a strong free skate and gained fourth place, while Cassie Andrews and Timothy LeDuc were ninth.

The Chinese team triumphed despite Sui's fall on a double Axel and stumble on a triple toe loop. These errors were offset by a well-landed throw quad Salchow; a huge triple throw flip; a solid triple twist; and extremely difficult lifts. The team's interpretation of the Charles Chaplin music was first class, and they ended with 167.01 points.

"Today we are not so happy because we made two mistakes and were a bit lucky to win," Han said. "Asia is so strong in pairs because this is the future."

"I do not know why I fell," Sui said. "We just have to practice harder."

Stolbova and Klimov showed an almost-clean long program to the soundtrack of La Strada. Their two triple throws were spectacular, and their side-by-side triple toe combinations were clean. Their only mistake came with Stolbova stumbled a bit on a double Axel.

"We are very pleased and happy today, we skated clean," Klimov said. "We do not have an idol. It is our programs, the music and the choreography which inspire us."

Takahashi and Tran fell from second to third place because Takahashi two-footed a triple Salchow and fell on an under rotated double Axel. The other elements were good, and their style was elegant.

"We are not very happy today because we made mistakes," Tran said. "At senior worlds, we might do a triple toe loop instead of the double Axel.

"It is mainly the Chinese team Pang and Tong who inspire us, and Meryl Davis and Charlie White, even if they are not a pair team. But their skating style is fantastic. Our coach Bruno Marcotte also inspires us a lot."

Cain and Reagan gained four places to place fourth with 135.40 points.

The Texas pair gave a strong performance to Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet with no major mistakes. Their two lifts got plus points from the judges, as did their side-by-side triple Salchows. Her second double Axel in the sequence was a bit shaky, but correctly performed, and the throw triple Salchow at the end of their program was spectacular.

"We are so happy to move up to fourth and happy about our free program though I had some shaky stuff," Cain said. "It's a great feeling to be fourth in junior worlds. We feel proud to represent the USA here."

Andrews and Leduc, who train in Indianapolis, started their free program to Bizet's Carmen with a solid double twist, followed by a sequence of side-by-side double flip - double toe loop - double loop done in good unison. They lost ground when Andrews fell on the throw triple toe loop and had her double Axel was downgraded.

"We got a season's best and are happy with our lifts and the split, but we could have pushed a bit more," Andrews said. "But this will be our goal for next season, where we have to move to seniors."

Since the placements of both U.S. pairs is 13 (4+9), the U.S. may send three pairs to next season's ISU Junior World Figure Skating Championships in Belarus.

"This was a perfect way of ending our season," Leduc said. "The fact that we and our team mates got three U.S. pair spots for next season is wonderful. That, and to be here, is our personal medal."