Russian teams capture ice dance gold and silver

Lichtman, Copely win bronze; U.S. qualifies three teams for 2012

Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin bested the dance field for gold in Korea.
Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin bested the dance field for gold in Korea. (Getty Images)


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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to
(03/04/2011) - Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin easily won the world junior ice dance title, defeating fellow Russians Ekaterina Pushkash and Jonathan Guerreiro by more than 10 points.

The champions, who also won the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final in December, earned a winning 83.54 points for their free dance to the Frida soundtrack, including the highest program component scores of the event. Overall, they earned 144.16 points.

"We are incredibly happy that we reached our goal to win here," Khaliavin said. "We had [hoped] to win last year, but it did not work.

"Today we had a few problems with the twizzle and the last lift [dropping those elements to Level 2], but we won overall. We love this music and we live in this music."

Pushkash and Guerreiro, who train and live in Aston, Pa., were third in the free dance and second overall with 134.64 points.

Pushkash had trouble with with the first twizzle, but otherwise their program to Bond's "Winds of the Desert" was clean. Like the winners, they had only three Level 4 elements, but their lines and interpretation were excellent.

"We are happy with our skate today. We had a good connection with the audience which is very important," Guerreiro said.

"Certainly we wanted the first place, but we mainly wanted to show how much we have improved since we changed our coaches [to Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov] last summer. We love our coaches and will go back in the next few months to improve our general skating skills. We do not see any difference between American and Russian style any more."

Charlotte Lichtman and Dean Copely, the Canton, Mich. coaching team of Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband has yet another successful couple. A year ago few would have expected the team to medal here.

The U.S. junior champions skated to Beetlejuice in a lively, entertaining way, making no mistakes and gaining Level 4 for four of their elements. They placed fourth in the free dance and overall earned 133.26 points.

"We are very pleased with our free dance today," Lichtman said. "It shows our individual style and I think we are excited overall."

Lichtman, who added that the team plans to enter the senior ranks next season, said training with champions like Meryl Davis and Charlie White was strong daily motivation.

"We have several top teams of the world in our rink. We get a lot of inspiration from them and know what we must work on to get their level."

French couple Tiffany Zahorski and Alexis Miart, who placed ninth in the short dance after she had stumbled on a twizzle, moved up to fourth position with the second- best free dance. They got the highest technical element score of the event.

U.S. junior bronze medalists Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus dropped from fifth to seventh place after a solid, but conservatively skated, free dance to Carmen that featured four Level 4 elements. The combined finish of the two top U.S. teams (3+7) equals less than 13 points, therefore, the U.S. may send three ice dance teams to world juniors next season.

"We are glad that we accomplished three spots for the U.S. team for next year," Cannuscio said. "We are happy with our components, but the levels for our footwork are a bit strange. We will move up to seniors next season."

Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager ended up eleventh with 117.26 points.

The U.S. junior silver medalists gave a clean and lively performance to the soundtrack of The Mask, but lost ground when their step sequences gained only Levels 1 and 2.

"Today our performance was really strong, but skating in the second group did not help us," Bonacorsi said. "[Our program components] did not get the points we would have gotten in the [later] groups."

"It was a wonderful experience to be here," Mager said. "We are hoping to come back and place higher next season. We love our coaches Natalia and Gennadi and will certainly stay with them."