This weekend’s Nebelhorn Trophy presented the last chance for skaters to nab a place at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
After narrowly missing out on securing a spot at the World Championships in Finland, Belgium’s Jorik Hendrickx did not leave anything to chance in Oberstdorf with two perfect performances. He had a winning margin of twenty-seven points over Alexander Johnson from the United States, the only skater in the competition not involved in the hunt for Olympic spots for his country. Sweden’s Alexander Majorov will now have the opportunity for a second trip to the Olympics, while Matteo Rizzo from Italy, June Hyoung Lee from South Korea, Julian Zhi Jie Yee from Malaysia and Yaroslav Paniot from Ukraine all picked up berths for their respective countries in February. 2018 will mark the first time a Malaysian athlete competes at the Winter Olympics.
Kailani Craine from Australia recorded personal bests in the short programme (58.02) and total score (167.45) to win her first ISU Challenger Series event, as well as grabbing an Olympic spot along the way. Sweden’s Matilda Algotsson pushed Craine hard and, although she won the free skating segment, it was not enough to pass the Australian in the end. Alexia Paganini, who originally represented the United States internationally, brought Switzerland a bronze medal and an Olympic spot. Isadora Williams from Brazil, Viveca Lindfors from Finland and Anna Khynchenkova from Ukraine also were successful in the search for Olympic qualification.
Outside of the competition for places at the 2018 Olympics, there was a showdown between two leading pairs in Europe right now at the Nebelhorn Trophy. As was the case in Ostrava this year, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov from Russia emerged on top with local favourites Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot having to be content with second again. Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor took an historic bronze medal for Australia and also comfortably qualified for the Olympics in the process. Miriam Ziegler and Severin Kiefer from Austria, Tae Ok Ryom and Ju Sik Kim from North Korea, Paige Conners and Evgeni Krasnapolski from Israel and Anna Duskova and Martin Bidar from Czech Republic availed themselves of the other qualifying places.
Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland from Great Britain made a triumphant comeback to international competition following the horrific knee injury and long road to recovery for Coomes. They posted personal bests in their short dance (71.79), free dance (105.34) and overall score (177.13) to secure the British figure skating team’s only spot next year in PyeongChang and their first Nebelhorn Trophy title. Japan’s Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed were a solid second to seal a place for the Olympic team event for their country. Kavita Lorenz and Joti Polizoakis of Germany won bronze and a coveted Olympic ice dance spot along with Yura Min and Alexander Gamelin from South Korea, Cortney Mansour and Michal Ceska from the Czech Republic and Lucie Mysliveckova and Lukas Csolley from Slovakia.
Junior Grand Prix Rolls Into Zagreb
The fifth stage of the ISU Junior Grand Prix saw skaters take to the ice at the Dom Sportova in Zagreb, Croatia. Alexei Krasnozhon of the United States became the first male skater to book his place at the Junior Grand Prix Final with his second win of this season’s series. Canada’s Joseph Phan finished second with Makar Ignatov from Russia third.
Sofia Samodurova from Russia came from third after the short to overhaul the two skaters in front of her and claim her first Junior Grand Prix title. Mako Yamashita from Japan took silver to add to her bronze from Austria, while Russia’s Anastasia Tarakanova had a disastrous skate, but was to still able to salvage a podium finish with her third place.
In their first international competition together, Polina Kostiukovich and Dmitrii Ialin from Russia snatched gold in the pairs event. China’s Yumeng Gao and Zhong Xie won silver and Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii from Russia the bronze.
Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha from Canada sailed into the Junior Grand Prix Final with victory in the ice dance event. They will be joined in Nagoya, Japan by Russia’s Sofia Shevchenko and Igor Eremenko who finished second. Ksenia Konkina and Grigory Yakushev also from Russia were third.