BARCELONA–Competition began Thursday in Barcelona with all four junior shorts and the pairs and ladies short programs. Team USA was represented by Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson in the junior pairs event, while Ashley Wagner took the ice at her third consecutive Grand Prix Final.
Wagner sits in sixth place after missing her triple-triple jump combination but otherwise turned in a strong program. Her 60.24 points are just three out of medal contention after the short program.
“The quality of the program was really good. The only thing it was really lacking was the triple-triple combination,” she said. “I was able to get level 4s on all my spins, level 3 on my step sequence. The program as a whole was solid but it just goes to show that now with these younger girls, you need a triple-triple jump to be competitive. It’s something I’ll need tomorrow.”
Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva leads with 67.52 points while Elena Radionova is in third with 63.89.
Liu and Johnson had a bit of a rough outing for their Mary Poppins themed short program. Liu suffered two falls, on the throw and side-by-side jumps, while Johnson only completed a single Lutz in their side passes. His mistake cost the team an extra 1.00 point deduction and their score totaled 39.05 points. Liu and Johnson, who have only been skating together since June, are looking forward to rebounding in the free skate Friday.
“We will put this behind us,” Johnson said. “We have to move on. We know we can do it.”
Leaders after the short program are Canada’s Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau.
For complete quotes from Liu, Johnson and Wager, scroll down.
Friday will see the completing of the Junior Grand Prix Final, while the other the dancers will take the ice. Madison Chock and Evan Bates are the event’s number 1 seed while Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani will compete at the Final for the first time since 2011.
All events will be streamed live on http://www.icenetwork.com, while Universal Sports will air the ladies and men’s short programs from 8-10 p.m. ET.
Team USA’s Schedule (ET)
Friday, Dec. 12
12:15 p.m. – Junior pairs free
Liu & Johnson (skating 1st) – 12:22 p.m.
1:45 p.m. – Short dance
Shibutani & Shibutani (skating 3rd) – 2:04 p.m.
Chock & Bates (skating 6th) – 2:31 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 13
11:25 a.m. – Ladies free
Wagner (skating 1st) – 11:32 a.m.
1:25 p.m. – Free dance
What They’re Saying
Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson (6th place, 39.05 points)
(on short program) Johnson – “It was not what we were expecting. We had been doing a lot in practicing and training.”
Liu – “Overall, we don’t have much pressure. We didn’t really expect to make it here and since we did, we are trying to do our best. Bad days happen, but we tried our best and that’s what counts.”
(on regrouping for free skate) Johnson – “We will put this behind us. We have to move on. We know we can do it.”
(on new partnership) Liu – “We are both strong individual skaters and have good teamwork. Sometimes, I get mad at him, but he’s a boy, so … Both having experience helps too. He went to junior worlds and me being with my old partner, we had international experience. This year it was more about getting out there and trying to do good programs versus our placements. It’s good but win but that’s not the focus.”
Ashley Wagner (6th place, 60.24 points) (WATCH FOR FREE on icenetwork)
(on short program) “The quality of the program was really good. The only thing it was really lacking was the triple-triple combination. I was able to get level 4s on all my spins, level 3 on my step sequence. The program as a whole was solid but it just goes to show that now with these younger girls, you need a triple-triple jump to be competitive. It’s something I’ll need tomorrow.”
(on free skate tomorrow) “I need to get the triple-triple combination. It’s tough because there is so much pressure on that jump. Everybody’s talking about it, a jump that has to be in the program. Tomorrow I have to have that combination and I have to skate strong and solid like I know I can. I know I have the second mark but that’s only going to take me so far at the Grand Prix Final.”
(on triple-triple combination) “The entrance (to the first jump) that I have really helps the combination when it’s correct. When I get nervous and pitch forward a bit, it makes it hard to get the triple toe off. I need to figure out how to compete with that jump. The entrance has to be very precise and I chose that take-off so I’m aware of the risks but if I get nervous and I hold back, it makes it tough to get the triple toe off. I have no reason to hold back, especially at the Grand Prix Final. It’s a privilege to be here and this is icing on the cake of a good Grand Prix season.”
Watch Elizaveta Tuktamysheva’s first place short program for free on icenetwork here.