Golden Skate

Kostiukovich and Ialin lead Russian dominance in Pairs at Junior Worlds

Polina Kostiukovich and Dmitrii Ialin

Polina Kostiukovich and Dmitrii Ialin of Russia perform their Short Program at the 2019 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

The Russians dominated the Pairs’ Short Program at the 2019 World Junior Figure Skating Championships on Wednesday. Polina Kostiukovich and Dmitrii Ialin took a narrow lead over teammates Apollinariia Panfilova and Dmitry Rylov and training mates Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov. All three teams earned a new season’s best score.

Kostiukovich and Ialin showed lots of energy and good ice coverage in their routine to “Survivor” from the Tomb Raider soundtrack. The defending silver medalists were solid, landing a triple twist, side-by-side double Axels, a throw triple Salchow and earned a level 4 on their lift and spin. Thee team from St. Petersburg scored  68.31 points for first place.

“We had a decent performance, but it was far from our best,” said Ialin. “As I already said in Canada (at the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final), if it is not our best, it means there is room to grow. We want to fix our mistakes in the future and we’ll focus on the free skating like we did today.”

“I just want to sleep,” responded Kostiukovich when asked about looking “serious” in spite of being in the top three. “We are not used to skating so late. The competition is not over yet. There is the free skating tomorrow for which we need to focus and need a lot of energy and patience.”

When asked about what they would like to change about the rules, Ialin said that he would like to see more time added for both programs so that they “are not running from one element to the next and don’t have time to breathe.”

Displaying good connection in their performance to “I Put a Spell On You,” Panfilova and Rylov also produced a strong triple twist, side-by-side double Axels, a throw triple Salchow, however, their death spiral was graded a level 2. The 2018-19 Junior Grand Prix bronze medalists earned the most grades of execution (GOE) for their triple twist of the three top teams and also earned a level 4 on their footwork to score a close second with 67.91 points.

“This was a good performance,” said Panfilova, “one of the best of the season for us and we got a season’s best. We skated pretty well, but we could have done the death spiral and the twist better.

She, too, said that they were tired. “At this competition, there is a long break, ten hours, between practice and competition. This is boring and tiring. Therefore, everybody is tired.”

Mishina and Galliamov, who train with Kostiukovich and Ialin, were also strong. They gave a solid performance to “Party Like a Russian,” earning a level 4 on all elements except the triple twist (level 3). Their routine featured consisted of a strong throw triple Salchow and side-by-side double Axels, and the 2018-19 Junior Grand Prix champions finished third with 67.02 points.

“Our short program was normal but it wasn’t good,” said Mishina. “We had a small mistake. I think because we were nervous.

“The short program is over now and the new day is for the long program and we will start from the scratch on the new day for the long program,” said Galliamov.

Mishina thinks it would be “cool” if the pairs were allowed to do small lifts like the ice dancers, and Galliamov would like to add a choreographic step sequence.

With just over a point separating the top three teams, it will be an exciting battle in the free skate. All three teams executed nearly the same elements for the Short Program, but it came down to a levels and GOEs when determining their order of placement.

Feiyao Tang and Yongchao Yang of China thrilled the audience with their performance to “More Magma” by Ramasutra which featured a triple twist, side-by-side double Axels, and throw triple Salchow, but received negative GOEs on their change combination spin which was out of unison. The team from Beijing earned a new season’s best of 60.77 for fourth place.

Skating to “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys, USA’s Laiken Lockley and Keenan Prochnow  produced side-by-side double Axels, a level 3 triple twist, a throw triple Salchow and earned a level 4 for the lift and step sequence. The 2019 U.S. national junior champions placed fifth with a new season’s best of 59.96.

Teammates Sarah Feng and TJ Nyman are currently in sixth place with 58.43 points. The 2018 JGP Czech Skate silver medalists showed a level 4 triple twist, lift, and footwork, but Feng stepped out of the throw triple Salchow and put her free leg down on the death spiral.

Israel’s Hailey Kops and Artem Tsoglin round out the top seven teams (53.03), followed by Ukrainians Sofiia Nesterova and Artem Darenskyi  (51.97).