Talk about shuffling at the top of the standings in the ladies competition at the Junior Grand Prix Romania, the second of seven events in the series.
Russian triple Axel phenom Elizaveta Tuktamisheva made her debut as a junior skater here and moved up to win the competition after placing 4th in the short program. This is a skater who, at just 11 years old, won the silver medal at the 2009 Russian Senior National Championships. Now the ripe old age of 13, it's amazing to think that her free skate score of 86.21 probably comes as a great disappointment. In any event, Elizaveta earns 15 points towards qualifying for the Final and has a gold medal to show for her first junior international effort. She did not attempt the triple Axel here.
American Kristiene Gong finished third in both portions of the event and ended with the silver medal, while teammate Samantha Cesario moved up to fourth place overall after finishing seventh in the short program.
Japanese skater Shion Kokubun has never competed on the Junior Grand Prix, but in her final year of eligibility, she finishes with the bronze medal here. Kokubun is coached, in part, by two-time World bronze medalist Takeshi Honda.
Tuktamisheva's teammate Rosa Sheveleva most likely took herself out of contention for the Junior Grand Prix Final after dropping from second place in the short program to sixth overall. Sheveleva won the bronze medal at the Courchevel event that began the series two weeks ago.
Let's just put it this way. If you score 30 points below your personal best in a free skate, odds are the performance was nothing short of a disaster. This is exactly what happened to short program leader Yuki Nishino of Japan, who fell all the way to seventh place overall after suffering four deductions in the long program. Nishino was the bronze medalist at the 2007/2008 Junior Grand Prix Final (yes, three seasons ago), behind two names that you might recognize: Americans Mirai Nagasu and Rachael Flatt. Also in the field of eight qualifiers in that same 2008 Final was Estonian Svetlana Issakova, who finished all the way down in 19th place here. That should give you a good idea of the consistency level of most junior skaters!
Earlier in the day, the short dance was completed. Last years Junior Grand Prix Final champions, Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin, have distanced themselves from the field by earning 55.22 points in the segment. Ukrainians Anastasia Galyeta and Alexei Shumski are second with 47.66, and Tiffany Zahorski and Alexis Miart of France are third, earning 46.98 points.
The mens events began yesterday, and two Americans lead the way. Joshua Farris is in first place with 67.03 points, while teammate Keegan Messing is in second with 65.33 points. Japan's Keiji Tanaka is third, while Frenchman Thomas Sosniak is fourth. Sosniak was also fourth at the Junior Grand Prix Courchevel.
The competition concludes tomorrow with the mens free skate and free dance.