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Kovtun clears out field to claim junior men's title

Farris bags silver despite allergy attack; Hino wins bronze; Brown takes fourth

Russia's Maxim Kovtun came from behind to capture gold by nearly 11 points.
Russia's Maxim Kovtun came from behind to capture gold by nearly 11 points. (Getty Images)

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By Renee Felton, special to icenetwork.com
(12/07/2012) - Russia's Maxim Kovtun received a loud and proud hometown reception, and with good reason, after executing a flawless free skate that would put him in line to win his first Junior Grand Prix Final title.

Kovtun watched on a backstage monitor as short program leader Joshua Farris performed a solid free skate. But in the end, Kovtun went on to best the field by nearly 11 points at the 2012 Junior Grand Prix Final.

Skating to music from the classic Casablanca, Kovtun, who placed fourth at the 2011 Junior Grand Prix Final, started out with a bang to execute a beautiful quad toe-triple toe that earned 14.40 points.

The points just added up from there, with elements including a triple Axel-triple toe, a 10-point triple Axel and a pair of Level 3 spins. In all, the free skate earned 149.78 points as he totaled 222.31 overall.

In his third appearance at the Junior Grand Prix Final, Farris enjoyed his best career finish, second, with a total score of 211.37, despite battling an allergic reaction to dairy.

"I'm actually happy," Farris said simply. "I don't know if anybody knows this, but I'm deathly allergic to dairy and accidentally had a little bit of it. So, I had to take two Benadryl and I was really tired. I thought it was pretty good for how I felt. I took the medicine two hours ago."

Farris totaled 136.84 points for his "Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, op. 18: Allegro Scherzando" free skate. After starting off with a triple Axel-triple toe combination that received 14.03 points, Farris suffered a fall on his quad toe and struggled with the ensuing triple Lutz.

Following the program, Farris acknowledged that the fall on the toe took him a moment to rebound from.

"I hit the boards when I fell on the quad and it bent my hip back," he explained. "It took a few elements to get back into it."

Overall, Farris is happy with his outing in Sochi, considering the opportunity to compete at the Junior Grand Prix Final an extra perk that most skaters don't earn.

"The Final is the Final. I learned last year that it's kind of a bonus round," he said. "You do well in your Junior Grand Prix events and it's the icing on the cake. I skated probably a little bit worse than last year and still have improved my placement; I can't be too disappointed with that."

Bronze went to Japan's Ryuju Hino, who is in the midst of a very busy month and considered his physical condition going into this event at below par.

"I still can't believe the placement, and I can't believe that I'm sitting here with the other two skaters. It's surreal to me," he said. "My condition was poor. Even with the warm-up and other official practices, nothing was going right in this competition. Despite my condition, I've made sure my program is more complex and difficult.

"I knew I was going to make mistakes, but I had nothing to lose, so I jumped in there and did what I could do. That proved to be a good strategy to me."

The Junior Grand Prix Final is the second of three major events taking place over the course of four weeks for him. Two weeks ago, Hino won the Japanese junior title, and he is next set to compete at the senior championships later this month.

For the week in Sochi, Hino earned 198.92 points, including 131.37 for the Robin Hood free skate. Highlights included a triple Axel-triple toe combination, a triple Lutz and two Level 4 spins.

Jason Brown, who came into this event as the reigning Junior Grand Prix Final champion, finished in a narrow fourth with 198.32 total points. After feeling the exhilaration of landing his first career triple Axel in Thursday's short program, Brown skipped the element completely to start the "Liebestraum" free skate.

"I don't know what happened," he said. "I think it's just new and it's something I need to learn how to do under pressure, and with being off the ice for a while before I skate again."

He rebounded from the mistake to include a triple flip-triple loop combination and a triple Salchow in the second half of the skate. Other features included two Level 4 spins and a Level 3 step sequence.

"I tried to get over what had happened and pretend like everything was the same," he said. "I took one element at a time, and that really helped."