Russian ladies take top spots at junior worlds

Zawadzki wins bronze; U.S. qualifies three ladies for next season

The ladies podium at the 2011 World Junior Championships. From left: Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, Adelina Sotnikova and Agnes Zawadzki.
The ladies podium at the 2011 World Junior Championships. From left: Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, Adelina Sotnikova and Agnes Zawadzki. (Getty Images)


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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to
(03/05/2011) - A near-flawless Adelina Sotnikova won the world junior title, defeating fellow Russian Elizaveta Tuktamisheva by 5.85 points.

Agnes Zawadzki, fourth at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January, won bronze. Christina Gao was fourth and Courtney Hicks was sixth. The results qualified three U.S. ladies for next season's junior worlds.

The sparkling Sotnikova, who trains in Moscow under Elena Buianova, had six excellent triple jumps in her free to Saint-Saens' "Rondo Capriccioso," including a triple Lutz-triple loop combination that earned 12.10 points. Her only mistake was a step-out on the triple flip. Although she is only 14 years old -- too young for both the 2011 and 2012 World Figure Skating Championships -- she has a relatively mature and elegant style.

"I skated quite well today except for the flip and I am happy to win my first junior world championship," Sotnikova said.

"When I came here I tried not to be nervous and said to myself, 'this is a competition like a Junior Grand Prix.' My dream is to participate in the Sochi Olympics, but it is still three years away and so many things can happen until then. I hope that nothing serious happens and that I will be able to fight there for a good result."

Tuktamisheva, who trains in St. Petersburg under Alexei Mishin, had an energetic program including two triple Lutzes and a double Axel-triple toe combination, but did not show a triple-triple.

"The competition had a high level," she said. "I did not skate so well in the free program; I turned the first toe loop and the Salchow into double jumps. Therefore the result is okay, even if it is not what I wanted.

"My dream also is to compete in Sochi, but there are a lot of talented girls in Russia, some even younger than me. I will try to become better and better every year."

Zawadzki, who won the silver medal last season, earned 161.07 points for her free to Hungarian folk music. The Colorado Springs-based skater performed seven triples, starting with double Axel-triple toe loop combination, but her triple loop and Salchow were judged under rotated by the technical panel.

"I am very ecstatic about my free program today, because it worked so well and it was hard work to get it so well," Zawadzki said. "Next season I will learn some new tricks. I am not so happy about my short yesterday, because I turned the second toe loop of my combination into a double."

Gao stepped out of her opening triple flip and could not complete her intended triple-triple combination. Four other triples -- the Salchow, loop, a second flip and toe loop -- were very good, but she stepped out of her Lutz and under rotated her double Axel. She finished with 155.27 points.

Hicks moved up from tenth place after the short to sixth overall with the fourth-best free skate of the day. The California skater tried seven triple jumps plus two double Axels, but got two edge calls on her Lutzes and had one of her toe loops downgraded. Nevertheless, she gained plus points for her other jumps, and had excellent spins and a lively skating style.

"It was a lot of fun for me to skate in a completely different country, because up to now I only was in Canada," Hicks said. "I am quite happy with my performance today because I moved up a few spots from the short program. I could have been a bit more expressive, but it was okay.

"I will probably do Junior Grand Prix next season, because I have not done any this season, but we have not decided yet."