Ilia Malinin (USA) took the lead as the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships opened in Tallinn (EST) on Thursday with the Junior Men’s Short Program. Wesley Chiu of Canada came second, edging Estonia’s Mikhail Selevko.
Ilia Malinin competing in the Junior Men's Short Program at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn © ISU
Skating to “Billie Jean”, Malinin nailed a triple Lutz-triple toe, a triple flip, triple Axel and collected a level four for his spins and footwork. The two-time ISU Junior Grand Prix gold medallist scored 88.99 points.
“I feel very excited that I skated the best I came here to skate. I prepared a lot for this moment to make sure I skate clean and do the best possible,” the 17-year-old said.
“It’s different from the senior level, because I had quads in the short (at the ISU World Championships). It’s hard because you have to focus on not overrotating your triples. Overall it’s an easier layout and definitely better to work on your skating skills. You can have that shine more than the jumps,” he said.
Chiu’s performance to “Vincent” was highlighted by a triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe and difficult spins. The National senior-level bronze medallist posted a new personal best of 81.59 points.
Wesley Chiu of Canada took second place in the Junior Men's Short Program at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships © ISU
“It was personal best for me and I have been training a long time for this moment,” the ISU JGP Courchevel Champion noted. “I just continued training (after the National Championships in January).
“Skate Canada actually held a camp for all of the Junior World competitors, so it was nice to go there and show my programs to some judges and get some feedback.”
Selevko produced a triple flip, triple Axel and level-four spins and steps, but he stepped out of the landing of his triple Lutz-triple toe combination. The ISU World Championship competitor earned 81.26 points.
Mihhail Selevko (EST) took third place in the Junior Men's Short Program of the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships © ISU
“I am very happy with the result. That was quite unexpected for me considering the mistakes I made in the end of the program,” the Estonian skater commented. “My brother (Aleksandr Selevko) was 4th (in the Short Program) last time when Junior Worlds was in Tallinn (in 2020) so we’re both happy that I got that place.
“I think there is not a lot of pressure on me in the free skating. It is more in the short program, because you can't make mistakes and you have to be very precise. In the free skating it is a bit more relaxed,” he added.
Liam Kapeikis (USA) is not far behind in fourth place at 79.83 points, closely followed by Tatsuya Tsuboi (JPN) on 79.15 points. 2018 ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champion Stephen Gogolev (CAN) placed sixth (78.75 points).
The schedule of the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships 2022 is as follows:
Thursday, April 14
Men’s & Pairs Short Program
Friday, April 15 Ice Dance/Rhythm Dance, Pairs Free Skating
Saturday, April 16 Women’s Short Program, Men’s Free Skating
Sunday, April 17
Ice Dance/Free Dance, Women’s Free Skating
* Following the IOC recommendation, in order to protect the integrity of ice skating competitions and for the safety of all the participants of international ice skating competitions, the ISU Council based on Article 17.1.q) i) of the ISU Constitution, agreed that with immediate effect and until further notice, no Skaters belonging to the ISU Members in Russia (Russian Skating Union and the Figure Skating Federation of Russia) and Belarus (Skating Union of Belarus) shall be invited or allowed to participate in international ice skating Competitions including ISU Championships and other ISU Events (Full Statement to be read on ISU website).