Simpson, Miller take fifth in the Netherlands

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China skated to the gold in the pairs event at the 2010 World Junior Championships in The Hague, Netherlands. Japan’s Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran claimed the silver and the bronze medal went to Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia.

Reigning U.S. Championship silver medalists in junior pairs Britney Simpson and Nathan Miller finished fifth with a score of 138.00 points, the highest among the American pairs. The 2010 U.S. Junior Pair Champions Felicia Zhang and Taylor Toth (128.01) were 10th and the third pair, Brynn Carman and AJ Reiss, were 14th with 115.90.

Sui and Han put down a dynamic performance to the “City Lights” movie soundtrack. They opened with a side by side double Axel-double Axel sequence and a big throw quadruple Salchow, but she two- footed the landing. The ISU Junior Final Grand Prix Champions also hit a triple twist, a throw triple flip and were awarded a level four for the spins, the death spiral and the two lifts. They posted a new personal best score with 109.77 points and overall won the title in their debut at Junior Worlds with 170.71 points.

Sui and Han are the second Chinese pair to win the World Junior Championships after Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang, who were champions in 2001 and 2003. Zhang and Zhang won the silver medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games but placed off the podium in fifth place at the 2010 Games.

“We are pleased with our performance and especially happy that we were able to show the quadruple throw, which is
a very difficult element,” Han said. “There were a few little mistakes, but overall we think it was good. The quad throw is hard to do and we’ve worked together with our coach (Bo Luan) step by step in practice to be able to put it out in competition.”

Takahashi and Tran’s routine to “Butterfly Lovers” was highlighted by a double Axel, a high double twist. A throw triple Salchow and difficult spins and lifts. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists earned 97.69 points and added another silver medal to their collection with a total of 157.23 points.

“We’re happy with our performance,” Tran said. “It’s a lot better than the other two Junior Worlds we have done. It wasn’t clean-clean, but basically clean, so we are happy about that. It’s great to finish the season like this.”

Takahashi and Tran are the second pair team from Japan to win a medal at Junior Worlds. Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Markuntsov took the silver back in 2001, although Kavaguti now skates for Russia with Alexander Smirnov, who helped her to a fourth place finish at the Olympics.

“It was not the best performance tonight, but I’m happy, because there was no big mistake,” Takahashi said.

Skating to oriental music, Stolbova and Klimov landed a double twist, a throw triple toe and throw triple Salchow, but she fell on the second jump in the triple toeloop-double Axel sequence. The couple from St. Petersburg earned 91.09 points, establishing a new personal best for themselves, and remained in third place at 145.35.

“Today not all our elements worked out, and so we were not able to fight for the highest spots on the podium, but we are happy to have held on to third place,” Klimov said. “This is basically our biggest success so far, our first international success.”

Russians Tatiana Novik and Mikhail Kuznetsov (139.63) moved up from fifth to fourth after completing the rarely seen side by side triple loop. Simpson and Miller slipped from fourth to fifth after she fell on a double Axel and throw triple loop.

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Photo courtesy of Leah Adams

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