U.S. sweeps at junior worlds
MILAN -- The U.S. men and Russian women didn't leave room for anyone else on the podium at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships.
Joshua Farris, Jason Brown and Shotaro Omori's 1-2-3 finish Saturday for the U.S. was the first sweep in the men's event by any country. A few hours later, Elena Radionova, Julia Lipnitskaia and Anna Pogorilaya swept the women's podium. It was the fifth time one country had claimed all three of the top spots in the women's event, and third time by Russia.
The Americans and Russians split the four titles at junior worlds, and each country won five medals.
"To be able to get a medal at my first time here at junior worlds, and to be part of this historic moment with Josh and Jason, is such an honor," said Omori, who had never finished better than fourth at a junior Grand Prix event.
The U.S. men's previous best showing had come back in 1987, when Rudy Galindo won the title, Todd Eldredge was second and Cameron Birky was fourth. Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek were 1-2 in 2001, but the Americans didn't have a third man that year.
But Farris, Brown and Omori showed they were up for the challenge after claiming the top three spots in the short program, and they didn't let up in the free skate. Farris (228.32) and Brown (224.15) posted the two highest scores ever at junior worlds, while Omori finished almost 12 points ahead of Jin Boyang of China.
Brown won the free skate with a program that was as impressive technically as it was artistically. He landed eight triple jumps, including two triple axels, the jump that has long been his downfall.
"To be able to come here to junior worlds and do three of them (total) and to land them -- for me, that was like winning," Brown said. "To be able to do it here is truly incredible, and I feel so honored and proud to have gotten to the podium with these two guys."
Farris landed eight triples, four in combination, and received the maximum level fours on his footwork and all three of his spins. His only error was a fall on the landing of his quadruple toe loop, one of only two attempted Saturday.
"I went out there to have fun. I knew it was my last junior competition and I was like, 'I'm going to enjoy it and skate my heart out,' " Farris said. "And that's what I tried to do. The fall on the quad kind of ruined my clean skate that I was hoping for, but I had fun out there."
Omori dropped from second after the short to the bronze medal after stepping out of a triple axel. But he received the maximum level fours for all three of his spins, and only three other skaters had higher component, or artistic, marks.
"I definitely feel very happy," the 17-year-old said.
Radionova, the junior Grand Prix Final champion, jumped to the top of the podium after being fifth in the short program. She landed six triple jumps, including a triple flip-single loop-triple salchow combination, and had level fours on her footwork and all of her spins.
"Yesterday I skated for the first time in this arena and I wasn't really used to it. Today I tried the ice in training and felt more confident at that ice rink," said Radionova, the third straight Russian woman to win the junior title.
"I expected to move up. Maybe not to the first place, but into the top three."
Lipnitskaia, last year's champion, said nerves got the best of her in the short, where she finished fourth. She went into the free skate with a different attitude, and it paid off. Her spins were exquisite, and she piled up the points with her first two combinations, a double axel-triple toe loop-double toe, and a double axel-triple toe.
"I went through the program until the last jump, thinking about nothing and then everything came out together," Lipnitskaia said. "In the footwork, I just wanted to laugh and to cry at the same time."
Pogorilaya dropped from second after the short program to third, hurt by slopping landings on several jumps.
Samantha Cesario, the leader after the short program, got downgrades on five of her jumps and fell to fourth place. Fellow American Courtney Hicks was fifth.