Nagoya / Japan

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 Russia’s Anastasia Skoptcova/Kirill Aleshin upset 2017 World Junior bronze medalists Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) in the Junior Short Dance to take the lead in the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Nagoya on Friday. Sofia Polishchuk/Alexander Vakhnov, also from Russia, are currently in third place.

Dancing to Cha Cha, Rhumba and Samba, Skoptcova/Aleshin put out a technically demanding performance and earned a level four for the Cha Cha Pattern Dance, the twizzles and the curve lift, only the side by side footwork was rated a level three. The couple from Moscow set a new personal best with 65.87 points. “We were calm. It felt like at home in practice. Just to skate clean is not enough, you need to improve every time. We came here to show what we have learned. We come to each competition to win, first of all to win over ourselves,” Skoptcova commented. “You should not try more than you can do, because that usually leads to mistakes,” added Aleshin.

Carrreira/Ponomarenko’s dance to Rhumba, Cha Cha and Samba featured a level-four lift and a level-four Cha Cha Pattern sequence. However the twizzles garnered a level two. Nevertheless, the 2017 World Junior bronze medalists managed a personal best with 64.10 points.

“We are really happy with how our performance went. We didn't get some of the levels, so we need to work on that. Besides that, it was great and we are excited for tomorrow. Our main focus is to just skate our best, perform our best, having two clean programs and having that take us where we want to be,” Ponomarenko noted. He is the son on of Olympic and World Champions Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko. “It helps a lot to have world medalist parents, they have told me many stories, they are really proud of me and support me really well. I thank them for that,” he said.

Polishuk/Vakhnov, who compete in their first Junior Final, turned in a strong dance to Cha Cha and Samba as well, collecting a level four for three elements. They, too, improved their personal best with  63.17 points. WWell, we did everything we planned. Of course, there are always things we must work on, but for this moment we showed everything we could. All the mistakes we did before and which we worked on we managed to correct here. To be honest, I was nervous and Sonia helped me to calm down,” Vakhnov shared.

Majorie Lajoie/Zachary Lagha (CAN) finished fourth (60.52 points), edging Sofia Shevchenko/Igor Eremenko (RUS), who have 60.10 points. Arina Ushakova/Maxim Nekrasov (RUS) placed sixth on 58.53 points.