DUELL OF THE "BLUE SWORDS"

October 7 through 10, the former German Democratic Republic figure skating capital Carl- Marx-Stadt hosted an ISU Junior Grand Prix event. Though, since the unification of two unequal halves of Germany, the resultant country became poorer in both money and talent. Many cities lost their names. So, the city of the Discoverer of Traveling Ghost* got its old name, Chemnitz. Though in exchange they got big malls and hotels where one can eat without disgust, wash with water with no rust, and sleep without roaches or bedbugs.

41 Ladies, 29 Men, 6 Pairs, and 20 Dance teams took part in the competition. I won't list the names and results -- they're easy to find on the Internet. I'll only talk about what I did and did not like.

Among the scantly represented “child pairnography”, I was most impressed by a Swedish pair Angelika PYLKINA/ Niklas HOGNER, especially its girl part. Beautiful and passionate "Swedish match" did triple jumps as easily as some of the single skaters did “butterflies” on the ice. Since the honorable Scandinavian country hasn't been noted for such almost since Ulrich Salchow, I decided to do some hereditary digging into Angelica's family. Since the pair's coach shares the same name, I went to her. Turns out the simple Swedish last name Pylkina hides an international sports master, a student of Ludmila and Nikolai Velikovs Nelly Chervotkina, who in couple with Victor Teslya was quite a bright star on the Soviet skating sky of the 80's. Accordingly, she raised her daughter by the Soviet system. As one movie character said, albeit on a different subject, "Mastery cannot be drunk away". The Swedes were second after the short, but had to settle for the bronze, the silver going to Americans Brittany VISE/Nicholas COLE. Coming up from third to win were the students of the same Nikolai Velikov, Maria MUKHORTOVA/ Maxim TRANKOV. Masha had won the event two years ago in couple with Pavel Lebedev. This is Mukhortova’s and partner's last season in Juniors. Next year, they'll be chased from the children's aquarium into the open ocean.

Coming fourth were Americans Sydney SCHMIDT/Christopher POTTINGER. They're a young, half-baked pair, notable only for being brought to Germany from their native Texas by Natalya Mishkutenok, who obviously needs no introductions.

From among more than forty ladies -- a whole hothouse of buds and flowers, I only liked a few. Obviously, the winner Kiira KOPRI from Finland, both Americans Katy TAYLOR and Danielle KAHLE, Magyar Tunde SEPA, German Constanze PAULINUS, and perhaps a firstborn of Azerbaijani Junior ladies skating Emma HAJIEVA. As for Olga NAIDENOVA who won this event two years ago, I was rather disappointed by this flower. At first, I thought she rather grew in my eyes since I last saw her last year. Turns out it's not just my eyes: Olya grew 12 centimeters** during the summer . I only spent a short time as a medical student, so I don't know if it's possible that as a result of fast growth part of the brain inside the head traveled the spinal cord. In any case, Naidenova was fifth after the short, and could certainly medal by winning the free program. However, having taken the ice, the girl for some reason decided to change the program right then and there according to her own taste and whim. Consequently, Olga got ninth place, and Zhanna Gromova, watching on, almost got a heart attack watching what she certainly could not consider her work.
Another bud I liked is Melissandre FUENTES from Andorra. She trains with Andrei EFREMOV -- Igor Ksenofontov's student and one of the first teachers of Alexei Gorshkov. The girl gains confidence with each season. It's just that in Andorra, they don't sacrifice athletes' health for medals.

In men’s Junior skating, defending Russia were Natalia Dubinskaya's student Alexander USPENSKI, and Marina Selitskaya's Denis LEUSHIN. Uspensky even won the short, but apparently celebrated it so long that he only came in 5th in the free. Leushin was 8th. Otherwise, it's worth noting the winner, Swiss Jamal OTHMAN, clearly descended from Arabian mares. Also worth mentioning is an interesting mix of a Druse father and Ukrainian mother, Israely Nazar MAHMUD, training with another former USSR citizen Tatiana Stolina. Nazar can eventually replace not only Roman Serov, but the main star of Israeli skating Mikhail Shmerkin. Finally, I have to mention the so-called Hungarian Tigran VARDANJAN, who was pre-destined to take his first steps on ice: his parents are the former Russian skaters Gurgen Vardanjan and Eranjak Ipakjan, with long successful careers at the Hungarian capital. The kid is half-baked, but very lively. Apparently, Armenians do better in skating then Georgians.

Finally, we get to the most beautiful and objective of figure skating disciplines -- ice dancing, where twenty teams competed. Here, I noted first a German team Carolina and Daniel HERRMANN. Those dancers from Dortmund used to work with Oleg Ryzhkin, son of the Victor Ryzhkin, Ludmila Pakhomova's first partner. Now, they train with a famous dancer and choreographer Rostislav Sinitsyn and a migrant German Vitaly Shulz. This means the siblings grow up around Russian speakers. Better in understanding the language are the very appealing Polish Joanna BUDNER/Jan MOSCICKI. They work with Bozena Bernadowska, who annually brings the kids to the summer seminar in Bulgaria, where she works with Alexei Gorshkov, Sergei Petukhov, Mikhail Pavlyuchenko, and others.
Marina Zueva brought a very decent Canadian team Siobhan KARAM/Joshua McGRAT (despite the spelling, the girl is called Shavan), whom she is preparing together with American coach Igor Shpilband. The team was 5th in Compulsories, 4th in Original, and 2nd in Free, but still did not manage to climb above the fifth place overall. Though they could have very well medalled.
Russia put forth two teams: the event champions Natalia MIKHAILOVA and Arkady SERGEEV and the 4th place finishers Olga ORLOVA and Anton SAULIN. The former are well trained by Ksenia Rumyantseva and Petr Rublev, and the latter came with the recent World champions Irina Lobacheva and Ilya Averbukh. Until recently, Olga trained at the Moscow "Locomotive" with Elena Kustarova and Svetalana Alekseeva, and skated with Maksim Bolotin; Anton working with Oleg Sudakov in Tolyatti. The rumors say that Svetlana Kulikova's mother asked Tatiana Tarasova to take on Anton. She then invited Olga Orlova as his partner; she knew the girl from back when she was in charge of the "Locomotive" school. Having apparently realized that switching the numbers did alter the sum to the unacceptable level, Tatiana Anatolievna gave the new couple to Lobacheva and Averbukh. The kids aren't bad, but they skate in different styles. Olga resembles Anjelika Krylova, while Anton resembles an oak -- just as powerful, but as of now almost as clumsy. We'll see what the spouses Lobacheva and Averbukh can do with them. They have plenty of ice for that: Ilya is the stadium director, and Irina is the senior coach.

Finally, the Israeli Junior team is having a "spring on Zaretsky street". Sasha and Roma ZARETSKY started skating in Minsk. Realizing their kids wouldn't have a future in figure skating in Byelorussia, their parents immigrated to Israel. Famous Ukrainian skaters Irina Romanova and Igor Yaroshenko trained the team for a few years. Recently, though, their parents decided to have the kids work with Maya Usova, who then just separated from Tatiana Tarasova. In Chemnitz, the blooming Alexandra and the Israeli Defense Force private Roman came third. This is the second Israeli dance team of the real world caliber. Third if you include in the category the bronze Nagano medallists Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovksy.

Unfortunately, just when the Israeli ice dance school is experiencing its spring, the Ukrainian is witnessing the fall. Odessa dance school exists no more, and the famous Kharkov one has fallen apart as a pilferer at the first interrogation. The very experienced coach Galina Churikova, more famous in the figure skating world as Alya, lost two assistants -- Svetlana Chernikova, and, if memory serves, Valerij Egorov. The senior federal coach Yurij Balkov and the Ukrainian Federation figure skating leadership had a dilemma, since they had very limited finances to support Ukrainian ice dancers. Here in Chemnitz, "defectors" Alisa AGAFONOVA/ Dmitro DUN came tenth, and Nadezhda FROLENKOVA with Mikhail KASALO eleventh, but honestly, I most liked Nadezhda Frolenkova out of the four. This girl somehow reminds me of one of the best ice dancers of the end of last and beginning of this century, Elena Grushina. I must also mention that the boy's mother paid for team Agafonova/Dun and their coach Svetlana Chernikova to come to Chemnitz.

After my last article about Junior figure skating I was repeatedly asked why I call some girls “flowers” and some girls “buds”. Oh God, it’s hard to say. As far as I remember from school’s biology lessons, flower is a bud, exceedingly blossomed out.


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*First sentence of Marx and Engles' 1848 "Communist Manifesto" is "Ghost is roaming around Europe -- the ghost of communism". This became the basis for thousands of Soviet jokes.

**12 Cm. ~ 4.8 inches

© World copyright by Arthur Werner

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