by Anne Calder | Photo by Robin Ritoss

The world’s top junior competitors were in Debrecen, Hungary, for the 2016 World Junior Championships.  Medals were awarded in all four disciplines with the event wrapping up with the free dance on Sunday.  The U.S. swept the top two spots with Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter continuing their season-long winning streak and claiming the gold, while training mates, Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons, took home the silver medal.  Russia’s Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd rebounded after a sixth place short dance to win bronze.

SHORT DANCE

Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons (USA) won the Short Dance with a waltz to “Cinderella’s Departure for the Ball” by Sergei Prokofiev. The siblings used the balletic music as a vehicle to glide their performance to level 4 twizzles, footwork, lift and the first waltz pattern.

“Our goal today was to have fun and to skate our short dance for the last time this year to the best of our ability,” Michael commented.  “We’re both proud of what we put on the ice.”

The siblings 67.88 score is the highest SD score recorded at a junior ISU competition.

Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA) placed second with a 66.25, a repeat of their previous personal best score. The reigning Junior Grand Prix Final champions waltzed and marched to “Peer Gynt” by Edvard Grieg. The program earned level 4 twizzles, lift and second dance pattern. The level 3 footwork score lowered the technical mark enough to place them behind their training mates.
 
“We both feel the short dance is unique and stands out,” Carpenter explained.  “That’s something we always aspire to do with our skating.  We really love this program. We wanted to have fun with it one last time, and I think we did that.”

Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac (FRA) performed an effortless dance to selections from the studio album by Dutch violinist, Andre Rieu – waltz: “And the Waltz Goes On” and polka: “If You Knew Susie”. The twizzles and rotational lift earned level 4 and the footwork and first dance pattern was level 3. The Montreal-trained team scored 59.65 and is third.

“It was our best performance of the year,” Le Gac said.

“We tried to do something different in the short dance to really push ourselves to the maximum of our abilities,” Lauriault added. “We’re proud of what we put out, and it was our best score.”

Youth Olympic Games gold medalists, Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov (RUS) are fourth (59.15). Elliana Pogrebinsky & Alex Benoit (USA), 2016 US bronze medalists are fifth (59.05).

Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd (RUS), 2015 JGPF silver medalists are sixth (58.93) after Loboda had an unfortunate fall at the end of the step sequence.

Only 1.63 separates placements one and two, with 1.31 separating teams placed third through eighth. 

FREE DANCE

Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA) performed a solid free dance to Georges Bizet’s Carmen and moved past their training partners to win the gold medal. The straight-line lift, twizzles and spin earned level 4, while the step sequences and rotational lift were level 3. The judges awarded all +2 and +3 technical marks.

“We really worked to show the characters of the program,” McNamara said.  “We also worked to improve the maturity of our skating, to increase our flow and coverage and speed.” 

They were rewarded with high component marks for their efforts.  The free program (97.4) and total (163.65) were personal best scores.

Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons (USA) danced to selections by Medialuna Tango Project. They earned level 4 for the twizzles, two lifts and spin. Unfortunately, their short dance lead was not enough to make up for the points lost on the level 2 midline step sequence.

“Our goal was just to do the best we possibly could, and whatever happened, happened,” Michael commented. 

“We’ve really been working hard, and it really means a lot to us to have a medal at Junior Worlds,” Rachel added.

The siblings slipped down a spot to silver, but did receive personal best scores for the free program (94.86) and total (162.74).
 
Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd (RUS) vaulted from sixth to third and won the bronze medal with a sophisticated dance to “Lo ti penso amore” and “Paganini 5”. The JGPF silver medalists earned level 4 twizzles, spin, and lifts. The step sequences were level 3.

Drozd spoke about being on the podium after the devastating fall in the short dance. 

“It means a lot to us. We didn’t have such a good short dance, and it was very important today to show a good free program. I think we did it. Today we were like one team”
 
The 92.26 program score was a personal best. The total was 151.19.

Elliana Pogrebinsky & Alex Benoit (USA) moved up a notch from fifth to fourth with a mesmerizing free skate. They used the motion picture score of Romeo and Juliet and the French musical Roméo et Juliette: de la Haine à l’Amour to earn level 4 for twizzles, lifts, and the spin. The footwork received levels 3 and 2.  

“We really are happy; we gave our best,” Pogrebinsky said.  “We wanted to show what we can do regardless of placement.  This way you don’t have that much pressure on you about the result.”

The free dance (87.75) and the total (146.83) were personal best scores for the Michigan based team.

Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov (RUS) flipped places with Pogrebinsky & Benoit and finished fifth, but were sixth in the free dance.  The Youth Olympic Game Champions danced an elegant performance to the musical film score from “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” by Michel Legrand. They were awarded level 4 for twizzles, lifts, and spin.  The diagonal and circular step sequences were level 2.  The team has not yet finished its skating season.

“We are glad to have performed the way we did,” Smirnov noted.  “We still have one more competition when we go back to Russia.  It is a very serious one at home.”

The short dance (59.15), free dance (87.40) and total (146.55) were personal best scores.

Betina Popova & Yuri Vlasenko (RUS) placed fifth in the free dance, but sixth overall. The  three-time JGPF competitors danced a mature performance to “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce.  The lifts and spin earned level 4 and the twizzles and footwork were level 3.  The free dance score was 87.65, and the total score was 146.21.