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Trusova edges teammate Kostornaia to take lead

Skoptcova, Aleshin win dance gold; Carreira, Ponomarenko take silver
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Alexandra Trusova took the lead in the ladies competition with a clean rendition of her super-fun short to "Big Spender" and "Jumpin' Jack." The Junior Grand Prix Final champion was awarded a score of 72.03, which gave her a 0.40-point advantage over Russian teammate Alena Kostornaia. -Getty Images

Russia's Alexandra Trusova jumped out to a slim lead over teammate Alena Kostornaia after the ladies short program Friday at the 2018 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, while fellow Russians Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin bested Team USA's Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko for dance gold.


Trusova nailed a triple flip-triple loop combination, triple lutz and a double axel in her entertaining routine to "Big Spender" and "Jumpin' Jack." The Junior Grand Prix Final Champion collected a Level 4 for her spins and a Level 3 for the footwork, with her segment score of 72.03 proving to be the best in the field.

"I am happy with my performance, but there is still room to grow, to improve the steps, spins and (ensure) that all jumps get a plus," the 13-year-old said. "I have two quads (salchow and toe loop) in my free skating, and I want to land them and skate clean."

Slotting second behind her Russian teammate was Kostornaia, whose tango short featured a triple lutz, triple flip-triple toe, double axel and three Level 4 spins. The 14-year-old earned 71.63 points to remain well within striking distance of the top spot.

"I am pleased overall with my program, but there is always something to improve," Kostornaia said. "In my free skating, I want to skate clean and I want the judges and the audience to enjoy it."

Performing to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," Mako Yamashita of Japan produced a triple flip-triple toe, triple lutz and double axel to set a personal best of 66.79 points, which was good for third in the segment.

"I really enjoyed skating today," Yamashita said. "In the free skating, I'd like to enjoy skating like I did today."

Japan's Rika Kihira -- who fell on the back end of her triple flip-triple toe combination -- sits in fourth with 63.74 points, while Eunsoo Lim of South Korea placed fifth with 62.96 points.

Russia's Stanislava Konstantinova completed the top six by accruing 62.63 points.

Ice Dance

Skoptcova and Aleshin dominated from start to finish Friday in Sofia, winning with more than seven points to spare. The duo from Moscow delivered a precise and characteristic tango, collecting a Level 4 for their lifts, twizzles and the spin as well as a Level 3 for the serpentine step sequence.

The Junior Grand Prix Final Champions recorded a season's best 88.71 points and accumulated 155.15 overall to take the title.

"Our performance today I rate a nine out of 10," Aleshin said. "I could have done better in some places, but I am sure that Nastia (Scoptcova) did everything she could have done. This victory is motivation for us to continue to work at the senior level."

Carreira and Ponomarenko stood in sixth place after he suffered a mishap on their twizzle sequence in Wednesday's short dance, but the Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists bounced back in a big way during their 'W.E' free dance.

The Americans picked up a Level 4 for the stationary lift and straight lift as well as for the twizzles -- which were executed to perfection this time around -- while the circular step sequence was rated a Level 3 and the combination spin a Level 2. The 2017 world junior bronze medalists scored 86.83 points, which added up to 147.68 overall.

"We were pretty disappointed after the short dance," Carreira said. "We wanted to come here and deliver two strong performances and that's not what happened, but we came back strong I think. Today we still had a few technical mistakes, but overall it was much better."

Ponomarenko, the son of 1992 Olympic ice dance champions Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, revealed that his mother was the driving force behind his inspiration this week in Bulgaria.

"After the short dance, after the mistake of course, she (Klimova) was like, 'Anthony, it's OK, I still love you'. Actually, she really motivated me. She told me, 'You've been a fighter since the beginning, so just give your all in the free dance."

Russia's Arina Ushakova and Maxim Nekrasov's dynamic dance to Fergie's "Be Italian" featured three Level 4 elements, but the step sequence garnered only a Level 2. The Junior Grand Prix finalists scored 85.59 points in the segment and 146.88 overall to claim bronze in their debut at this event.

"We are very happy to have won this medal," Ushakova said. "At the beginning of the season, I said in an interview that we have big plans for this year, and we realized them."

Majorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha of Canada slipped from second to fourth, ending their stay in Sofia with 146.22 points, while Russia's Sofia Shevchenko and Igor Eremenko placed fifth with 145.85 points.

Team USA's Caroline Green and Gordon Green landed in sixth place with an event total of 141.83 points, with fellow Americans Chloe Lewis and Logan Bye taking seventh with a mark of 139.17.