A Strong Finish: Carreira and Ponomarenko Claim Ice Dance Silver

Photo by Joosep Martinson - ISU/ISU via Getty Images

Photo by Joosep Martinson – ISU/ISU via Getty Images

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko capped an outstanding season, rallying in the free dance to win the silver medal at the 2018 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, held March 5–11 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

It’s the only medal won by the U.S. at the competition.

The Michigan-based team captured both of their Junior Grand Prix events and finished as silver medalists at the JGP Final last autumn. From there, they won the U.S. junior crown in San Jose, California, before standing on the podium in Sofia. The team, in their fourth year together, won the bronze medal at 2017 World Juniors.

Carreira, who turned 18 on April 4, and Ponomarenko, 17, got off to a bad start in Sofia with a sixth-place finish in the short program. Ponomarenko missed the twizzles in the team’s routine to songs “Perhaps” by Pussycat Dolls and “Conga” by Gloria Estefan.

Disappointed, Ponomarenko’s spirits were lifted by his mother Marina Klimova. Klimova and husband Sergei Ponomarenko are three-time Olympic ice dance medalists and 1992 Olympic champions.

“She was like, ‘Anthony, it’s OK. I still love you,’” Ponomarenko said. “Actually, she really motivated me. She told me, ‘You’ve been a fighter since the beginning, so just give your all in the free dance.’”

Ponomarenko heeded his mother’s encouragement, responding with Carreira to deliver a strong free dance to the “W.E.” soundtrack. They notched a Level 4 for the stationary lift and straight-line lift, as well as for the twizzles; their circular step sequence received Level 3 and the combination spin a Level 2. The team finished with an overall score of 147.68.

“We were pretty disappointed after the short dance,” Carreira said. “We wanted to come here and deliver two strong performances and that’s not what happened, but we came back strong I think. We still had a few technical mistakes, but overall it was much better.”

Justin Dillon, who attended the event as the director of High Performance Development at U.S. Figure Skating, said despite the mistake in the short dance, their components score was high enough to keep them in medal contention.

“When they had finished their free dance, it was very close to their season’s best score, therefore I knew the medal was possible,” Dillon said.

Teammates Caroline Green and Gordon Green finished sixth with 141.83 points, while Chloe Lewis and Logan Bye claimed seventh place with a score of 139.17.

“Both teams had excellent (World Junior) debuts,” Dillon said.

The Greens, who have trained in Maryland since 2009, enjoyed a prosperous season, placing third at their JGP debut events and winning the silver medal at the U.S. Championships.

“The Greens have a bright future in juniors next year,” Dillon said. “They made the final warmup group here and were exceptional.”

Lewis and Bye, who began skating together in 2010, produced personal-best scores for their short dance and overall. The Michigan-based team placed third at the 2018 U.S. Championships.

Russia’s Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin won both segments and finished with a score of 155.15, while their countrymates Arina Ushakova and Maxim Nekrasov secured bronze with 146.88 points in the 28-team field.

Take a look back at the 2018 World Junior Championships with the full story in the May SKATING magazine.