American skater Rippon wins another world junior title

American Adam Rippon won his second straight men's title in style Thursday at the world junior figure skating championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

American Adam Rippon won his second straight men's title in style Thursday at the world junior figure skating championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The 19-year-old dominated the event to easily beat Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic and Artem Grigoriev of Russia.

His free skate, to Send in the Clowns and I Pagliacci, was superb. He hit a triple flip-triple toe loop, a triple Axel-double toe combination and five more triples, along with difficult spins and footwork. When he finished, he fell to his knees on the ice, then jumped up and down in joy.

"I feel really good about everything," Rippon said after getting a personal-best 147.70 points in the free skate and a total of 222.00. "Mentally and physically, I was in really good shape going into the long program.

"I'm really happy with myself that I could put together this program, a really rewarding experience. So far it's the best I've skated in competition."

Elladj Balde of Pierrefonds, Que., finished eighth with 170.76 points.

"I was hoping for a better result today," said Balde, 18. "However, a year ago at the world juniors, I was 21st. To gain 14 spots in one year is a big improvement and that's what I'm looking at right now."

Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., was ninth with 169.36 points. The 18-year-old only learned last week that he was competing, after Andrei Rogozine of Richmond Hill, Ont., withdrew due to illness.

Brezina, in second place after the short program, skated just before Rippon and turned in a strong performance as well. His fast-paced routine to Latin music included seven triple jumps, but he only doubled the Salchow. The Czech skater scored 135.33, also a personal best, to finish with 204.88 points. It was Brezina's first medal at the world junior championships.

Skating to a modern version of Swan Lake, Grigoriev produced six triples and some excellent spins. The only major error in his expressive routine came when he doubled a flip. The Russian received 119.29 points, yet another personal best, and pulled up from fourth to third.

Americans also lead in dance

In the dance competition, Americans Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein strengthened their lead ahead of teammates Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell in the original dance. Ekaterina Riazanova and Jonathan Guerreiro of Russia moved from seventh up to third place.

Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill of Toronto stand sixth, Karen Routhier of Quebec City and Erik Saucke-Lacelle of Sherbrooke, Que., are seventh and Tarrah Harvey of Vancouver and Keith Gagnon of Surrey, B.C., are 13th.

With the couples skating to music from the 1920s, '30s and '40s, Chock and Zuerlein chose the Charleston and were mesmerizing. Their routine was highlighted by a straight line lift with changes of position.

The Junior Grand Prix Final champions earned 57.29 points, improving their previous personal best by 3.51 points. Overall, they have 90.44 points heading into the free dance.

"This performance definitely ranks up there with others," Zuerlein said. "I think it was one of our top performances this season. Obviously, there were a few parts that were shaky. I stumbled a little bit on a step, but it wasn't on an element. That was OK."

The Hubbells danced to Minnie the Moocher, showing off their maturity and strong footwork. The brother-sister team scored 53.44 points, slightly surpassing their personal best of 53.31, and ranked third in the original dance. Overall, they remained in second place at 84.83 points.

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