Musketeer Chen slays all comers at JGP Austria

Radionova claims ladies; Jones, Beharry win pairs; Papadakis, Cizeron triumph in dance

American Nathan Chen conquered the men's competition by 36.15 points in Linz, Austria.
American Nathan Chen conquered the men's competition by 36.15 points in Linz, Austria. (Tom Briglia)


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By Renee Felton and Mimi Whetstone, special to
(09/15/2012) - The U.S. finished strong in Linz, netting three medals on the final day of competition at 2012 JGP Austria.

Nathan Chen blew away his competition and earned the gold medal in his first career Junior Grand Prix event. The 13-year-old Salt Lake City native amassed 222.00 points, including 146.85 for his Three Musketeers free skate.

"Coming into this competition, I really wanted to do the best I could because I had been dreaming about this moment for a long time," Chen said. "I wanted to put everything I had worked hard for into my programs."

Chen, the reigning U.S. junior champion, took a 14-point lead into the free skate and made it 37 by the end of the segment. The program opened strong with a pair of Axels, first a triple then a double, before he reeled off six additional triple jumps in the second half of the skate. His triple flip-triple toe combination was the highest-scoring mark of the competition, earning 11.34 points. Each of the program's 12 elements received position grades of execution (GOE), including two Level 4 spins and a Level 4 step sequence.

Opening the competition with a "Prelude and Allegro" short program, Chen earned 75.15 points and again executed an array of highly technical elements featuring a triple Lutz-triple toe combination worth 11.11 points.

His program components scores were also markedly higher than those of his competitors in both segments.

Looking ahead, Chen said, "I would like to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final and do well at U.S. championships. This competition was an amazing experience."

As a point of reference, the highest score ever recorded in the JGP Final is 219.56 points by American Richard Dornbush in 2010.

Chen was joined on the podium by Japan's Ryuju Hino (185.85 points) and Korea's Jin Seo Kim (175.87 points).

Hino placed third in both the short program and free skate, but ended up finishing second after teammate Sei Kawahara -- who was in second after the short -- fell to seventh place in the free skate and fifth overall. Hino's medal is the second of the season for the three-year JGP competitor. He won bronze at the season's opening event in Courchevel, France.

Kim battled back from a 10th-place showing in the short program to stand on the podium in his first international event.

American Jay Yostanto finished sixth with a total score of 165.74 points.

Russia's Elena Radionova took home her second gold medal of the season with a score of 182.86 points. She is also the 2012 JGP France titlist.

Team USA owned the rest of the ladies podium, with Hannah Miller winning her second career JGP medal and Samantha Cesario taking bronze, her third straight third-place finish at a JGP event.

Radionova racked up 120.15 points for her free skate, set to the soundtracks of And Finally I Love You and Country of Deaf. Her technical elements added up to 66.39 points, and the program included a triple Lutz-triple toe, four additional triple jumps and three Level 4 spins.

Miller totaled 158.72 points to edge her teammate by 0.80 points for the silver medal. Miller's stronger program was her "The Storm" short program that included a triple loop-double loop combination and a pair of Level 4 spins.

"This year, I'm focused on consistency and improving my skating skills. My goal at this event was to increase my season's best from last year and match or improve my placement," Miller said. "I was very excited about my short. I just wanted to put out the best program I could and I feel I did that. I was especially happy because I received a Level 4 on my footwork in the short.

"I had so much fun getting to know my U.S. teammates and I am thrilled to be coming home with a silver medal," she added.

Cesario was forced to withdraw from the 2012 U.S. Championships due to injury and returned to competition in Linz. She moved up from fourth place after the short program to get into medal position.

Her Black Swan free skate accounted for 103.34 of her 157.72 total points. The program's highlight was a triple loop-double toe-double loop combination worth 9.12 points.

"I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity and I am thrilled with how everything turned out," Cesario said. "I learned a lot, and it was a great start to my season. I was really pleased with how I skated in both of my programs. To medal in a JGP with so much talent in the field is exciting. Going into the rest of the year, my main goal is to add a triple-triple into my repertoire while continuing to keep up my consistency."

Brittany Jones and Ian Beharry of Canada made an impressive international debut, winning the pairs event by more than nine points. Their free skate to "Bombay Dreams" earned a program components score of 52.06 points, the highest of the event. Jones and Beharry, who teamed up after the 2011-12 season, finished with 152.78 points.

Second place went to Russia's Lina Fedorova and Maxim Miroshkin, who earned a personal-best score of 143.49, topping their previous record by more than eight points. Bronze went to Fedorova and Miroshkin's teammates Maria Vigalova and Egor Zakroev, who earned a total score of 142.78 points. After placing fourth in the short program, Vigalova and Zakroev earned 96.50 points to place second in the free skate, moving them onto the podium.

Americans Britney Simpson and Matthew Blackmer, and Jessica Noelle Calalang and Zack Sidhu finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Brianna de la Mora and Taylor Wilson finished 11th.

Ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France easily skated to their second gold medal of the JGP season, winning the event in Linz with a total score of 142.08 points. They were the only competitors to break the 140-point mark. With the win, the duo will qualify for the 2012 JGP Final in Sochi, Russia.

The French carried a five-point lead over eventual bronze medalists Mackenzie Bent and Garrett MacKeen of Canada into the free dance.

Their free, to the music of Pink Floyd, earned 82.89 points, thanks to three elements that earned GOEs over 1.00, including both step sequences and a Level 4 lift.

Silver medalists Anna Yanovskaia and Sergie Mozgov of Russia earned their third consecutive JGP medal with a score of 135.02 points. The reigning JGP Final silver medalists were in bronze-medal position after the first segment of competition and finished in a close second place following their "Mala Luna" free dance.

Americans Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons, who represented the U.S. at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games, placed sixth, while their teammates, Whitney Miller and Kyle MacMillan, finished 10th in their international debut.