Team USA brings home two golds from Poland

Farris, Simpson and Blackmer top podiums for U.S. in Gdansk

Joshua Farris won his second career gold medal in the JGP Series in Gdansk, Poland.
Joshua Farris won his second career gold medal in the JGP Series in Gdansk, Poland. (Getty Images)


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By Renee Felton and Kristin Zinsmeister, special to
(09/17/2011) - The third International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating (JGP) Series event of the season wrapped up today from Gdansk, Poland, where the United States won three medals, including two golds.

American Samantha Cesario earned a medal, the bronze, in her second try on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. She finished fourth at JGP Romania in 2010. The Skating Club of New York representative maintained her third-place standing after the short program with a clean free skate to music from Black Swan. She easily set personal-best marks in all three phases of the competition, with 101.62 of her 153.84 total points coming in the free.

"After missing the U.S. Championships last year, it was such a privilege to be given this opportunity to represent the U.S. in Gdansk," Cesario said. "I was extremely happy with both of my performances, and winning a medal means so much to me. I've had another great international experience, and I hope the rest of my season continues in the same direction."

The highlight of her free skate came in the second half of the program, when Cesario earned 8.23 points for a triple Salchow-double toe-double loop combination.

Cesario shared the podium with Russia's Julia Lipnitskaia, who won gold by more than 10 points, and Satoko Miyahara of Japan. Making her international debut and skating to "Un Giorno per Noi" by Nino Rota, Lipnitskaia grew her almost four-point lead after the short program to double digits with a free skate that earned 112.14 points.

She began the performance with a double Axel-triple toe-double toe combination that netted 9.10 points and followed that with a plethora of well-executed elements, including a pair of level four spins and another double Axel done in combination.

Like Lipnitskaia, Miyahara made her international debut in Poland after finishing fourth as a junior at both the 2010 and 2011 Japanese Championships.

Cesario's teammate, Lauren Dinh, the 2011 U.S. junior silver medalist, finished sixth after most recently winning the junior title at last April's Gardena Spring Trophy.

American Joshua Farris maintained the momentum he gained through an error-free short program to "Clair de Lune" to capture his third career medal, and his second gold, on the JGP circuit.

Farris, who begins his third season competing in the JGP Series, put out a short that earned 75.69 points and saw all seven elements receive positive GOEs. Program highlights included a triple flip-triple toe combination, good for 10.50 points, and a triple Axel that added 9.50.

The 2010 U.S. junior silver medalist took a nine-point lead into the free skate over eventual silver medalist Artur Dmitriev of Russia. Set to music from the Transformers soundtrack, Farris' free skate featured a pair of level four spins, five triple jumps (including the aforementioned triple flip-triple toe) and a level three footwork sequence. His 126.76 points for the free skate were the second most in the segment.

Dmitriev, also a JGP veteran, skated a "Piano Fantasy" free skate that gained 130.21 points and included a pair of jumps that each earned more than 10 points. After starting the program with a triple toe, Dmitriev executed a flawless triple Axel-double loop combination (11.30 points) and later added a second triple Axel (10.35 points). The 19-year-old also earned silver at last season's JGP Czech Republic.

Nearly 24 points separated silver from bronze, which went to Japan's Ryuichi Kihara.

Team USA's David Wang placed fifth in his international debut.

With their win on Friday in Gdansk, the newly formed team of Britney Simpson and Matthew Blackmer became the first U.S pairs team to win JGP gold since Jessica Paetsch and Jon Nuss did it at JGP Germany in 2007.

The Americans finished strong, claiming three of the top five spots. Jessica Calalang and Zack Sidhu, and Madeline Aaron and Max Settlage finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Simpson, who competed in the 2010 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series with former partner Nathan Miller, and Blackmer glided to a dominant win and took the title by almost nine points.

"We were happy to skate two good programs at our first Junior Grand Prix," Simpson and Blackmer said. "Now we go home and make some changes to correct some levels and improve on some GOEs. We had a great experience in Poland."

The duo, who train in Colorado Springs, Colo., led by three points after skating their short program to the Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon soundtrack. Their lead ballooned thanks to a free skate featuring a throw triple loop, side-by-side double Axels and a level four pairs spin. They earned 141.42 points overall.

Silver medalists Katherine Bobak and Ian Beharry of Canada won their medal after fighting back from a fifth-place showing in the short program. Like Simpson and Blackmer, the team was competing for the first time together in an international setting.

The bronze went to Tatiana Tudvaseva and Sergie Lisiev of Russia. The medal-winning effort came in their second outing of the season. They placed fifth at the season's opening event in Riga, Latvia.

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Skating to music from The Phantom of the Opera, Russia's Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin easily took the gold in Poland. Sinitsina and Zhiganshin scored 140.31 points, 18 more than the second-place team, Anastasia Galyeta and Alexei Shumski of Ukraine. The Russians' win in Gdansk marks their first gold medal on the JGP circuit.

Galyeta and Shumski took the silver with a total score of 122.90 points. The team earned level fours on seven of their elements, helping them hold on to second place.

A point behind the Ukrainians were bronze medalists Anna Yanovskaia and Sergei Mozgov of Russia, who were making their first JGP appearance.

Americans Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons placed ninth, while their teammates, Jessica Mancini and Tyler Brooks, finished just behind them in 10th. Both teams were making their JGP debuts in Gdansk.