Russian dancers take gold, silver at junior worlds

'Phantom' free dance wins the day; Aldridge, Eaton earn bronze

Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin are the third straight different Russian ice dancing team to win a world junior title.
Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin are the third straight different Russian ice dancing team to win a world junior title. (Howard Mager)


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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to
(03/02/2012) - Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin skated their Phantom of the Opera free dance to near perfection Friday at the 2012 World Junior Championships, earning 90.03 points to defeat their Russian teammates, Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin, by five points in the free and six points overall.

The Junior Grand Prix Final champions performed with great energy, deftly executing intricate footwork and risky lifts. They gained five Level 4 elements, with their two step sequences rating Level 3. Most judges awarded them +2 GOEs (grades of execution) for the elements.

"We are really very happy with our skating today and with the result," Zhiganshin said. "We waited for such a long time to compete at junior worlds, because there were always other Russian couples, so we are extremely happy that we [performed] under pressure and did not miss this chance."

Stepanova and Bukin, who placed third at the Junior Grand Prix Final after a fall in the short dance, had a lively program to Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die." They, too, earned five Level 4 elements, with their step sequences gaining Levels 3 and 2.

However, an under-the-weather Bukin seemed a bit exhausted at the finish.

"Ivan has some health problems and could not come to this press conference, but went back to the hotel," Stepanova said. "We are happy with the result, although we would have liked to have won.

"In the end, we made a few small mistakes. We liked the fact that the public supported all of the teams, no matter where they came from."

U.S. junior champions Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton, who train at the Detroit Skating Club under a team headed by Pasquale Camerlengo and his wife, Anjelika Krylova, gave a very lively and convincing interpretation of the Irish step dance music from The Lord of the Dance.

Skating with good speed, they gained Level 4 for five of their elements and Level 3 for the two step sequences. Their free dance score, 83.38, moved them up two spots, and they won the bronze medal with 141.14 points overall.

"We have never been to junior worlds before, and it was a lifetime experience for us," Eaton said. "We went into this competition not thinking about any placement.

"After finishing our free dance today, it went through my head that we had skated the program of our life. We have had this program since June, and it gets better and better from month to month."

His partner talked about the atmosphere at the Detroit Skating Club, fast becoming a mecca for both ice dancing teams and singles skaters.

"We love training with Anjelika, Pasquale and the other members of our team (Massimo Scali, Elizabeth Punsalan-Swallow and Natalia Annenko-Deller)," Aldridge said.

"They push us to the limit and are full of good ideas. There is always a great atmosphere in the training group, [which also includes] the French (Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat) and Canadian (Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje) teams, who are among the best in the world."

Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager, who train in Aston, Pa., under 1980 Olympic champions Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov, also had a good day, moving up to seventh place with a romantic yet complex program to Sandra and Tony Alessi's "Close to You." Five of their elements gained Level 4, but the step sequences rated just Level 2. They finished with 128.41 points.

Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons of Maryland's Wheaton Skating Academy, just 14 and 16 years old, gave a clean and lively performance to music by Eddie Jefferson. Five of their elements gained Level 4, and they ended up in 15th place with 109.16 points.

Minsk madness: The placement of the top two U.S. dance teams qualifies the U.S. to once again enter three teams next season ... For the first time in many years, Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband did not have a couple entered. However, the Canton, Mich.,-based coaching team has said that they would like to coach novice and junior teams next season.