Carriere and Halverson Win Two More Medals for U.S. at JGP Hungary

by Sal Zanca, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Men's medalists: Silver Takahito Mura (Japan), gold medalist Stephen Carriere (USA) and bronze medalist Eliot Halverson (USA)
Photo by Paul Tortland

2006 JGP Hungary Results and Photos

(9/3/06) - Stephen Carriere gained the third gold medal for Team USA at the Junior Grand Prix Series stop in Budapest with a victory in the men's event, while Eliot Halverson came in third to give the Americans their fifth medal of the competition.

American ice dancers Shannon Wingle & Ryan Devereaux, and Blake Rosenthal & Calvin Taylor came in sixth and ninth, respectively, in the final standings.

Men's Free Skate
This is Carriere's third go-around on the JGP circuit, and he looks to gain a spot in the JGP Final for the second year in a row.

He jumped over Halverson, who was in first after the short program, to win the gold with a routine to the music of Buddy Rich for which he donned a casual sweater.

Carriere did not win the free skate either, coming in second to Japan's Takahito Mura in that portion by less than a point, 105.83 to 105.61. He still won with plenty of room to spare, besting Mura 165.01 to 160.89.

Halverson ended with a total of 159.66, falling short in the technical elements area.

Carriere was looking for a big start with a triple Axel but balked, and it became a single.

“That Axel, my focus went off a little bit," he said.

He rebounded and did six triples after that, although he did cut a triple loop down to a double.

Carriere won last year's JGP event in Bulgaria, and went on to a sixth-place finish in the JGP Final and a fourth at the World Junior Championships.

“Now I know I can go out and do my stuff. I am a bit more confident from now on,” Carriere said. “Every year I gained a lot. Each year I take a new thing in. I learned a ton from last year to this year because of my experience at junior worlds.”

Halverson's was clean technically in the short program, when he had three jumps. In the long he lacked some of the technical fireworks that Carriere and Mura had. His technical score in the free skate was 50.91, compared to Mura's 58.45 and Carriere's 55.53.

Halverson was realistic about the outcome.

“The other guys have a triple Axel and I don't, so I don't think there is anything I could have done to hold on to first place,” he said. “I skated well in both programs. That's all I wanted to do.”

Halverson said he wasn't disappointed after leading and dropping to third.

“I didn't really have any expectations coming in here,” Halverson said. “Finishing on the podium in my first Grand Prix, that's amazing for me.”

Free Dance
While their teammates in the other events battled for top spots, the U.S. ice dancers were just trying to gain international experience.

Wingle and Devereaux leapfrogged the Hungarian pair of Dorina Molnar and Gabor Balint, who fell, to take sixth with a total of 123.19 in their international debut.

Devereaux didn't feel bad about not finishing in the medals.

“Each competition we try to grow and try to build – never go back and always go forward," he said.

Wingle had a different, yet similar, view.

“I just always try to have fun," Wingle said. “After all the hard work, not having fun would be kind of a waste."

Wingle did add a serious perspective on what it would take to move up.

“I think you have to be in it for a while,” she said. “It is not all about what you do. What you do does help, but (the judges) don't know you when you come on (for the first time).

“Now they know what we are capable of and that we can do really good programs,” Devereaux said.

Rosenthal and Taylor took ninth with a total of 116.24 points for their athletic dance to "Dragon” featuring the Kodo drums.

“We had a little stumble, but we picked it up and just kept going and performing," Taylor said.

They know they have a ways to go to challenge for higher placements.

“It is really tough to get where some of the people are,” Rosenthal said. “You just have to work harder and keep practicing and never really give up.”

In first, by a margin of nearly 18 points, were Russians Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev. They showed they could probably do well in the senior ranks with impressive moves and difficult footwork.

Canadians Joanna Lenko and Mitchell Islam won the silver, while Russians Julia Zlobina and Alexei Sitnikov took the bronze.