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Russians sweep Cha Cha Cha short dance

Aldridge, Eaton within striking distance, vow to 'fight for medal'

Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin skated to a 1.10-point lead in the short dance in Minsk.
Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin skated to a 1.10-point lead in the short dance in Minsk. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(02/29/2012) - As expected, the three Russian teams finished atop the standings in Wednesday's short dance at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Minsk, Belarus. Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin, winners of the Junior Grand Prix Final in Quebec City in December, lead the pack with 63.78 points after a high-energy Cha Cha Cha and snappy Samba.

The team's twizzle sequence, rotational lift and first Cha Cha Cha sequence rated Level 4, with their remaining elements gaining Level 3. In addition, judges awarded them mostly +2 grades of execution (GOEs).

"We are glad about our performance today, but we want to be better and better, and could have done better today," Zhiganshin said.

Second were Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (son of 1988 Olympic ice dancing champion Andrei Bukin), who earned 62.68 points. The bronze medallists in Quebec City were the only couple to earn Level 4 for both of their Cha Cha Cha sequences.

Anna Yanovskaia and Sergei Mozgov, second in Quebec City, are third with 58.89 points. They skated with great speed but were a bit sloppy on several elements.

Americans Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton can still jig their way on to the podium with a bravura performance of their Irish step routine Thursday.

The U.S. junior champions sit fifth, just one point out of third place, after earning a season-high 57.76 points for their program to music from Marc Anthony and Mambo Kings.

The Detroit-based skaters, who train under a team headed by Pasquale Camerlengo and his wife, two-time world dance champion Anjelika Krylova, gained coveted Level 4s for their lift and first Cha Cha Cha sequence, and Level 3s for their remaining elements.

"We skated strong, and we got the levels we had hoped for," Aldridge, 18, said. "We are especially proud of the Level 3 for our step sequence, because we have worked hard on this element."

"We are just one point from third place, and we will fight for a medal in the free skate," Eaton, 19, said.

Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager, who train in Aston, Pa., under 1980 Olympic dance champions Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov, earned a personal-best 54.53 points in finishing eighth.

The U.S. junior silver medalists gained Level 4 and Level 2 for their Cha Cha Cha sequences and Levels 3, 4 and 3 for the other elements, but their program components scores were a bit lower than those of the top teams.

"I enjoyed skating today a lot," Mager said. "It was the best in our season. We had a great time out there."

"Placement-wise, we could be higher, but we skated clean and that is always our goal, so we are happy," Bonacorsi said.

Youngsters Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons, who train at Maryland's Wheaton Skating Academy, are 16th after Rachel fell on their final pose. The siblings gained strong levels for their elements, including Level 4 and Level 3 on their Cha Cha Cha sequences.

"We skated pretty solid, but we could have done better," Michael said. "It was a great atmosphere and a great crowd."