Radionova romps to victory over Miller, Pogorilaya

Petite Russian claims 11-point win; Reigning U.S. junior bronze medalist achieves personal goals

Elena Radionova of Russia exuded confidence after her JGP Final triumph.
Elena Radionova of Russia exuded confidence after her JGP Final triumph. (Getty Images)


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By Renee Felton, special to
(12/08/2012) - In a field that featured six athletes competing at the Junior Grand Prix Final for the first time, hometown darling Elena Radionova skated to an easy victory, totaling 179.40 points after setting a personal-best free skate score of 118.50.

Grinning from ear to ear, Radionova waved to the crowd, thanking them for their support. She had reason to celebrate, of course, following a hard-fought competition that featured the best skates of the season from five of the six participants.

Radionova's free skate, set to And Finally I Love You and Country of Deaf, began with a triple Lutz-triple toe combination and continued with a triple flip-loop-triple Salchow sequence and a pair of double Axels. She added two Level 4 spins and a Level 4 step sequence. Her program components score of 53.85 points was also the highest of the day.

The confident skater told the media following her program, "I wasn't worried. I was calm in spirit, so I managed to do everything. Everything worked out for me: I did all the jumps, all combinations. I was in a good mood when I skated; I performed my jumps well. You need to skate calmly and with confidence."

The gold medal is her third of the season after she also topped the podium at JGP events in Austria and France.

American Hannah Miller earned Team USA's third medal of the week, claiming silver with 168.41 points. Her win came by one point over bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya of Russia.

Miller was obviously excited after landing her final jump, the double Axel, and grinned widely through her final element, a Level 4 combination spin. She totaled a season-high 109.23 points for the skate.

"It's exciting when the last jump is done, knowing you've accomplished a great program," she said. "I got my personal best, and it's one of the best skates I could have done. I have been training really long and hard for this. All my spins and jumps were the best they could be."

Miller's coach and paternal aunt Kirsten Miller-Zisholz echoed her skater's feelings after the event.

"I'm incredibly proud of how Hannah performed this week," Miller-Zisholz said. "Every practice ice got better and better through the week. We came here to put out two strong programs and not worry about a result. We did reach that goal, and got a medal for the U.S. as a bonus."

Pogorilaya finished with 168.40 points to round out the top three. The highlight of her "Danse de Phryne" free skate was a triple Lutz-triple toe combination. She was one of three skaters, along with her teammate and American Angela Wang, to receive full credit for a clean triple-triple combination.

"It was really tough to skate today because of the bad weather -- it was gloomy outside -- but at the end, I gained some strength and was able to finish on a high," Pogorilaya said.

Wang, who finished second in the free skate, placed fourth overall with a total score of 162.05 points. The highlight of her week was certainly her Ladies in Lavender performance, in which she executed the highest-scoring technical element of the segment, a triple Lutz-triple toe-double toe combination.

With that sequence behind her, Wang's confidence began to build as she performed two Level 4 spins, a triple flip and a triple loop-double toe combination.

Wang gave a fist pump before taking a bow, and like many of her competitors, wore a huge smile as she met her coaches, Christy Krall and Damon Allen, at the boards.

"That's how I've been training, so I'm glad I was able to show that today," Wang said. "I felt really calm. I have been working really hard on my artistry for this program, and I hope that showed."

Krall, who a day earlier celebrated a silver medal with Joshua Farris in the junior men's event, feels the experience in Sochi is a great confidence boost for her skater.

"I call that the cherry on the top for this week," Krall said. "She came in a little dubious about this big world stage, but she comes out knowing she can handle a world stage. That will elevate her level of self-confidence going into nationals."

Leah Keiser finished sixth after earning 137.44 points.

"It's a good learning experience because this is my first big international competition. It definitely didn't go the way I wanted it to, but it gives me a lot to work on for next season," Keiser said.