Looking at Anna and Sergey, all happy and proud, on the podium in Tallinn, at this year’s edition of the Junior Worlds, one could easily sense their satisfaction; after all, this has been a golden season for the Russians, winning every competition they entered and, above all, the only title they were missing: the World Junior crown. “This season we achieved everything in juniors that we could have achieved”, summoned Anna Yanovskaya at the press conference after the free skate, letting everyone understand they’re ready for the next step of their career: moving to seniors.
by Florentina Tone
Anna and Sergey’s argentine tango – their choice for the free skate – has definitely been one of the highlights of the ice dancing event at 2015 Junior Worlds. Watching them give everything on the ice in Tallinn, one could very well sense their determination, their desire to win; they weren’t willing to let the gold slip through their fingers, as last year in Sofia. At their third participation in the Junior Worlds, after being fourth in 2012 and second in 2014, Anna Yanovskaya and Sergey Mozgov finally captured the crown, as they did in Barcelona, at the Junior Grand Prix Final, ending their junior years on a glorious note.
During their free skate in Tallinn, to the wonderful “Besame mucho”, the Russians collected a level four for the lifts and the spin, as well as a level three for the footwork and the twizzles. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champions set a new personal best of 93.70 points and 155.92 overall – a 9-point difference between them and the silver medalists. “We have only positive feelings now. We won the free dance and overall. Of course, there were some minor mistakes, but we are satisfied. In this season we achieved everything in juniors that we could have achieved”, Anna told the journalists.
And while this was the second World Junior medal for Anna and Sergey, after the silver last year, for the other couples on the podium it was the first time they medaled at the Junior Worlds: USA’s Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter moved up one spot from the short dance to capture the silver medal and Ukraine’s Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin pulled up from fifth place after SD to claim the bronze in Tallinn.
Dancing to “The Phantom of the Opera”, Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter picked up a level four for three elements and a level three for the circular footwork and the twizzles. With a personal best of 87.80 points, the Americans were ranked third in the free dance, but won the silver overall (146.90 points). “Going into the free dance today we just really wanted to put out a strong, solid skate and show our improvement from what we did earlier this year and since our last international competition. I think we did that today”, Lorraine McNamara said at the post-event press conference.
As for Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin’s free program in Tallinn, to “Escalier”, “Air” and “Tango Tchack”, this was truly a “wow skate”. You just couldn’t take your eyes of them during the 3 minutes and 30 seconds of the routine: an innovation that free dance was, from the beginning to the end, and the Ukrainians, daring, confident, enjoying their time on the ice. One thing is sure: Alexandra and Maxim were definitely the biggest surprise of the ice dancing event in Tallinn – their free skate was the second of the night and they did move from the fifth place after the short dance to take their first World Junior medal, the bronze, only 0.82 of a point separating them from silver.
At the press conference after the free skate, the Ukrainians training in Moscow seemed to be overwhelmed with the result: “We don’t really understand our emotions yet. After all, we are on the World Junior podium for the first time. We are satisfied with our performances, it was one of the best we’ve done”, Maxim Nikitin said. This is, of course, the best performance of their junior career, but let’s not forget the skaters born in Kharkov, Ukraine, already made their senior debut at this year’s edition of the European Championships in Stockholm. Ranked 12th in the short dance and 11th in the free dance, the two finished 11th overall – and this seems to be quite a good way to start their senior years.
As for the rest of the ice dancers in Top 6, the Americans Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons placed fourth, while the Canadians Mackenzie Bent and Garrett Mackeen dropped from second place after the short dance to fifth overall, as Garrett fell in the diagonal footwork. And though they finished sixth this year in Tallinn – after being the bronze medalists in 2014 – Madeline Edwards and Zhao Kai Pang from Canada were still a joy to watch; and one of my personal favorites in the junior ice dancing event. Their free dance, to music from the Italian movie “La Vita è bella”, is a beauty and they do have a wonderful chemistry together, reminding me, in a way, of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Looking forward to see them in seniors from next season – at this year’s Canadian (senior) Championships they were 7th.
A final exclamation point to the eighth-place finishers, Angélique Abachkina and Louis Thauron, representing France. At their second participation in the Junior Worlds (they were 18th last year in Sofia), the 15-year-old Angélique, born in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, and the 19-year-old Louis Thauron from Paris skated an energetic, Indian-themed free dance in Tallinn, clearly announcing themselves as a team for the future. And Angélique’s verve and enthusiasm were obvious even in the Kiss and Cry: hugging Fabian Bourzat, she asked for Igor Shpilband feedback in her mother tongue: “Harasho?” (Good?) Moving up ten places from last year’s edition of the Junior Worlds is clearly something to admire; as I admire their speed, the intricate details of their choreography and, above all, their distinct presence on the ice.
Faces of happiness: Anna Yanovskaya and Sergey Mozgov during the press conference after the short dance