Skating at the World Junior Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, Rippon successfully defended his title, beating silver medalist Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic by about 17 points with a score of 222.00, his new personal best. The bronze medal went to Russian Artem Grigoriev.
“I feel really good about everything,” said Rippon, who won his first title in 2008. “Mentally and physically I was in really good shape going into the long program. I’m really happy with myself that I could put together this program.”
Rippon’s personal best free skate (147.70) to “Send in the Clowns” and “I Pagliacci” incorporated eight triple jumps including two triple Axels. The 19-year-old, skating in his first competition with new coach Brian Orser at the boards, earned Level 3s and 4s for his footwork and spins.
“Going into last year’s Junior Worlds I felt a lot of pressure. This year, I knew how well Michal Brezina was skating,” he said. “His jumps are enormous and his triple Axel is incredible consistent and I know how strong the others skaters are. I knew I had to do two triple Axels to be competitive.”
Americans Curran Oi, who was sixth in his senior national debut this January, and U.S. Junior Men’s Champion Ross Miner finished fifth and 10th respectively.
Both had trouble in their free skates including three falls for Miner, who performed four clean triples. Oi performed six clean triples including a triple axel, but fell on his second triple Lutz attempt, which was downgraded to a double.
In ice dancing, Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein strengthened their first place standing after the compulsory dance. The U.S. Junior Dance Champions remain ahead of teammates Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell, leading 90.44 to 84.83.
Chock and Zuerlein put out a strong performance of their entertaining Charleston routine that was highlighted by a straight line lift with changes of position. The Junior Grand Prix Final Champions were awarded a Level 4 for the lift, the spin and the twizzles and a Level 3 for the circular and the side by side footwork.
“Our program is fun to dance and interpret. I have always loved the Charleston — the outfits they had back then,” Chock said. “The feeling of this music is happy and free. We are basically happy with our performance. It was solid for the most part. We connected well with each other.”
The team earned 57.29 points for the dance, improving d their previous personal best by 3.51 points. “This was one of our top performances of the season,” Zuerlein said.
U.S. Championship pewter medalists the Hubbells skated a blues number to “Minnie the Moocher” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, scoring 53.44 and placing them third in the original dance, although they remained second overall.
Ekaterina Riazanova and Jonathan Guerreiro of Russia moved up from seventh to third place with a second place original. Americans Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, the national silver medalists in junior dance, improved from fifth to fourth.
The competition continues Friday with the ladies short program followed by the free dance.
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