McLaughlin and Brubaker Lead after Short Program at World Junior Championships

by Salvatore Zanca, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker
Photo by Paul Harvath

2007 World Junior Championships Results and Photos

(2/27/2007) - It's another American-Russian duel at the top of the pairs standings after Tuesday's short program at the 2007 World Junior Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany.

U.S. junior champions Keauna McLaughlin and Rocke Brubaker, still undefeated in their first season together, are in first with 57.00 points. Bridget Namiotka and John Coughlin, who have overcome injuries, unscheduled flights to Serbia and changing programs in the middle of the season, are fourth with 50.76 points, while Kendra Moyle, who is gritting it out on a bum ankle, and Andy Seitz are fifth with 50.71 points.

Russians Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov are in second with 55.06 points, and Ksenia Krasilnikova and Konstantin Bezmaternikh, who McLaughlin and Brubaker barely beat out for the Junior Grand Prix Final title last December, are third with a score of 53.01.

Skating to the “Somewhere in Time” soundtrack by John Barry, McLaughlin and Brubaker set an international personal best for the short program. McLaughlin two-footed the landing on the throw triple Salchow, but the rest of their elements were sound.

“She had a little turnout on the throw, but everything else we did we feel is the best we have done,'' Brubaker said.

The pair had their first trial last February, and their first competition together was the Broadmoor Open last June. They then went through two JGP events, the JGP Final and the U.S. championships without a loss.

“We try to forget about the competitions before. Every competition starts out at zero, no matter who is there or how you have done (in the past),'' Brubaker said.

Moyle and Seitz were the leaders after the short program at last year's World Junior Championships before dropping to second.

This year Moyle is skating with a sprained right (landing) ankle, and injury that occurred Monday.

''I was doing jumps off ice and I was doing double Axels, and I landed funny,'' Moyle said. ''I tripped over and sprained the ankle. I have it wrapped, and I am doing therapy a couple times a day and icing it constantly.

''I can't make it any worse, so I just have to bite the bullet. It hurts to do most of the stuff, so I got out there and finished everything.''

Namiotka and Coughlin are glad just to be competing.

“We were sort of a wild card to make it here,'' Coughlin said.

They were fourth at last year's World Junior Championships but had a whirlwind of a season, switching back and forth between juniors and seniors. They were ninth at the senior level at the State Farm U.S. Championships.

“We were really excited to be here after the year we had,” said Namiotka, who accidentally cut Coughlin's wrist before NHK Trophy, an injury that forced them to withdraw from the event and him to wear a brace at the JGP Final.

Just getting to that competition was an experience in and of itself. Sofia was fogged in, and their flight was diverted to Belgrade. Once there, they endured a 10-hour bus ride through the former Yugoslavia to arrive in Bulgaria.

Compared to that, changing programs in the middle of the season isn't much of an obstacle.

“I was off all summer with a stress fracture in my back. Then he got injured, so we didn't have enough time to work on a new program,'' Namiotka said.

After doing “Summertime” throughout the fall season, they went back to last year's “Time to Say Goodbye,” which they used again at last month's U.S. Championships.

Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates
Photo by Michelle Harvath
Compulsory Dance
The Silver Samba had a bit of tarnish for the American – and Ann Arbor, Mich. – couples.

All three training mates had mistakes of varying degrees and wound up in fourth, 12th and 13th place after Tuesday's compulsory dance.

Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, the 2007 U.S. junior champions, are in fourth, earning 31.18 points despite a major stumble by Bates. Madison and Keiffer Hubbell, the Junior Grand Prix Final gold medalists, are in 12th, the result of a major fall that cost them two points. The third U.S. team, Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, are in 13th They committed the fewest errors of the American teams, touching skates a few times.

All three U.S. Figure Skating teams are coached by Iouri Tchesnitchenko and Iaroslava Netchaeva in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Russians Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev lead the competition with 35.52 points heading into Thursday's original dance. The Russians also led the JGP Final after the compulsory dance but were overtaken by both Samuelson and Bates and the Hubbells.

In second are Estonians Grethe Gruenberg and Kristian Rand, coached by Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva, with 32.43 points. Russians Kristina Gorschkova and Vitali Butikov are third with a score of 31.35.

The misstep in Samuelson and Bates' compulsory dance was more of a freak occurrence than anything.

''Her free leg came into my skating leg, and I wasn't able to do a three-turn,'' Bates said. ''All of a sudden I was my right foot instead of my left foot. It was unfortunate, but it's better to have a mistake in the compulsory and to skate well in the OD and free dance. Hopefully, we'll be able to do that.''

The Hubbells were hurt in the technical scores, where they were awarded just 14.80 points; they are used to that mark being in the 16s. Their total compulsory dance score was 26.90.

Heading down the ice, Madison lost an edge and fell backwards and found herself sitting on the ice. Then her brother went down, and both wound up facing each other in a sitting position.

''It was just a fluke. You can never expect things like that. It just sort of happened,'' Madison said. ''It wasn't our best performance. It's just the compulsories. We have two more events here.''

It could have been more painful. As she was sliding, Madison found herself coming up on the boards quickly, so she turned and put both arms up to stop herself.

''The boards aren't the most comfortable to fly into,'' she said.

Their coach, Iouri Tchesnitchenko, said it was only the second fall in their six-year competitive career.

The Hubbells won the original dance at both the JGP final and the U.S. Championships.

Kriengkrairut and Giulietti-Schmitt, in their first season together, scored 26.13 points and were thrilled to be competing internationally with their close friends.

''It makes it a lot easier. During the practice sessions it feels like it is at home, so there is really not a lot of pressure,'' Kriengkrairut said. ''It is just a lot of comfort.''