Thursday, March 11

World Junior Championships Day Two Video

Again, thanks to wcjunior.com, the highlights of the second day of competition can be seen here. Included are the top mens short programs, and the medal-winning pairs free skates.

Some thoughts on the mens short:

Keegan Messing from the United States - First off, his seasons best up until now was 45 points! I'd say he definitely got something together. Scrunched up triple Axel in the air but he actually got a decent landing and run-out from it. triple Lutz/triple toe reminded me of Elvis Stojko not only in his hairstyle but he had the same jumping technique. Good spins that are pretty well centered, well except for the final change camel position. He's not very light on his feet yet-- he's actually pretty loud with his edges. Program is okay but I don't think the music does much for him or would for anyone. He really reminds me of a young Stojko-- is that good or bad?

Grant Hochstein also from the United States - Already much more polish and sense of the music than Messing. Nice transition into his flying combo spin, and some unique positions even if the speed was really lacking. Nice footwork, really smooth and quite a bit of difficulty within the steps-- and all three spins came from no preparation at all, just one element transitioned right into them.. that was nice. Jumps seem to be okay, no triple Axel here as Messing had but everything else was much stronger in my opinion. I think if I scored it myself, I'd have a bigger separation than just three points..

Yuzuru Hanru from Japan - Also has the triple Axel, and a pretty nice one at that. Flying sit spin was all over the place in the beginning but he managed to center it. Not very many steps or difficulty into his solo triple flip. Footwork is pretty basic, nice camel/change/camel with donut positions on both feet, but again some problems centering and it was slow.. final combo spin included a Biellmann-- definitely the best of his three spins but you can see that's obviously an area he can use much improvement. Okay choreography, and just okay for me overall. I have to remember these are junior skaters, many of them with very little or no senior experience, so maybe I'm being grumpy towards them. That, and it's early. That'll be my excuse :)

Looking at the judges scores, Hanru beat Hochstein on every single components score. Definitely don't agree at all, but when do I ever agree completely with the judges?

And my thoughts on the pairs long program:

Takahashi and Tran from Japan were my favorites in the short program. One thing I would suggest for them is to incorporate some of the nice transitions they do in the early part of the program into or out of the elements rather than doing crossovers and isolating them from anything else. As far as jumping on this day, they rotated everything but she had a bit of trouble holding the throw triple toe loop and then also wasn't really able to hold the double toe in the latter part of their jump sequence. The program is a nice one though... work on the basics as individuals and interpreting the music and they are well on their way.

Sui/Han from China - She jumps so small on the double Axel sequence, but then seconds later they absolutely bomb into the throw QUADRUPLE Salchow, which she two-footed but seriously who would have expected that? Side-by-side spins went way out of unison and he seemed to travel on every position change, but that has always been a problem for the young Chinese teams. Another set of transitions and she flew in the throw triple flip... seriously, the height and distance she manages out of nowhere is really something. On the replay of the throw quad, it looks like she pulled out of the jump just a split second early and it caused her to have to brace the landing, hence the two-foot. But I have no doubts that they nail the jump pretty often in practice. Even though some areas were really frantic, I liked them a lot and I hope that they manage through the growth spurts.

Stolbova and Klimov - No height at all on the twist or the throw triple toe loop but she managed it, side by side triple toe loops in perfect unison but then she went down on the double Axel in sequence, and doubled the side by side triple Salchow 20 seconds later. He has better posture than she, and equally as good extension through the spirals. Decent choreography but again I feel like they are skating through it rather than listening to it-- that'll come with time, I suppose. Not much height again on the throw triple Salchow but she held the landing position and free leg very nicely almost in a complete circle. Strong and typical Russian! Spins are okay.. I think he's way ahead of her but if she works they have the potential to be pretty good.

And an interview with the winners. Cong Han is only 17 but understands and speaks English well enough to answer the first few questions-- good for him!

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