Kamila Valieva clinches World Junior Championships title

Russian skater performs two quad jumps en route to her fifth win of unbeaten season.

By ZK Goh

Kamila Valieva, Russia's latest young figure skating prodigy under the tutelage of Eteri Tutberidze, has won the ladies' singles event at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn on her debut appearance.

She attempted two quadruple toe loop jumps, one she had to step out of as well as a clean one in combination with a double toe loop, en route to a new personal best score of 152.38 in the free skate on Saturday (7 March).

Her overall score of 227.30 was also a new best.

The win completes an unbeaten season in major events for the 13-year-old, who also won the Courchevel and Chelyabinsk Junior Grand Prix meets, the Junior Grand Prix Final, and Russian Junior National Championships.

Valieva's teammate and fellow Tutberidze trainee Daria Usacheva won silver with 207.74 points after a nearly-clean free skate, while two-time senior U.S. champion Alysa Liu won bronze with 204.83 points.

It is Liu's second defeat this season, with Valieva also claiming victory in the other at the Junior Grand Prix Final.

Earlier, American duo Avonley Nguyen and Vadym Kolesnik were crowned the junior ice dance champions.

Valieva performs quads after all

Even as late as yesterday, Valieva's planned program for her free skate suggested she would not do any quadruple jumps.

The 13-year-old had also made comments to that effect to Russian media before the Championships.

However, the Russian submitted a planned program that included two quad toe loops in the end, and did the jump in the six-minute warm-up before her routine.

She stepped out of her opening quad toe, which she had planned to do in combination with a double toe. But there was a quick recovery as she successfully landed the combination at the second time of asking.

That element received the highest grade of execution score of her seven jumping passes.

The rest of her program was clean, and when she finished she knew she had won the title as she had skated after Liu and teammate Usacheva did not have sufficient base value to overtake her.

Liu smiles despite bronze

Earlier, Liu knew she needed a big performance to have a shot at overtaking Valieva after the two were separated by some 7.4 points after the short program.

Her opening triple Axel, double toe loop combination saw the Axel marked under-rotated, before the 14-year-old fell on her only quadruple jump, a Lutz.

Although the rest of her program was clean, the errors effectively ended her chances of catching Valieva.

That also opened the door for Usacheva, whose only slight mistake was an unclear edge on a triple flip in combination with a triple toe loop.

The rest of Usacheva's routine, which did not include any triple Axels or quadruple jumps, was clean – enough to convince the judges she was worthy of silver.

However, Liu's spirits did not appear dampened; she was seen smiling after her skate and looked happy during the victory ceremony.


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