Stepanova, Bukin easily claim short dance perch
Papadakis, Cizeron take second; Yanovskaia, Mozgov finish third; Aldridge, Eaton like odds from fourth
|Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin lead the field by 6.39 points in Sochi. (Getty Images)|
Stepanova and Bukin picked up a Level 4 for their twizzles, lift and a blues pattern to score a season's best of 61.18 points.
"We have worked a lot in the break since the Junior Grand Prix in Germany (in October), especially on the compulsory dance," Bukin said. "It felt calm to skate here; the audience received us very well.
"Last year (in the 2011 Junior Grand Prix Final), I probably was too nervous, but now I am approaching everything calmer and it is going better. I think I worked a lot on myself in the past year."
Papadakis and Cizeron's routine featured Level 4 twizzles and a Level 4 lift, while the blues patterns were graded a Level 1 and 2. The couple from Lyon earned 54.79 points.
"We skated well, although [we] had several minor mistakes," Papadakis said. "We are skating at the Final for the first time, and that fact is already a victory for us. We have been training for a long time and we've made progress."
Yanovskaia and Mozgov completed a solid blues pattern dance with a Level 4 and 3 as well as a Level 4 rotational lift. The Winter Youth Olympic champions collected 53.03 points.
"We changed our music and the order of our short dance -- that was our coaches' wish," Mozgov said. "And we like the second version more. Now it looks better in terms of music and choreography."
World junior bronze medalists Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton of the U.S. are ranked fourth with 52.60 points, ahead of Russian couples Evgenia Kosigina and Nikoli Moroshkin (50.45 points) and Valeria Zenkova and Valerie Sinitsin (50.39 points).
"We skated well through the entire program, and we were connected on the ice," Eaton said.
"We are notorious for coming back from a low short dance score," Aldridge said. "That's what we are going to do tomorrow. It's not going to be any different from any other run-through we have done. We are going to be strong."
"Everybody at home calls us the comeback kids," Eaton added. "For example, at Junior Grand Prix Lake Placid, we were behind six points and pulled back 7.5 in the free dance. We are a strong team, known for coming back from being down; I think our free dance is going to be really strong, and we will do what we have to do."