Junior dancers hope to move up

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

Eighth is enough ... so far.

But Siobhan Karam and Joshua McGrath like their chances of climbing even higher by the finish of the ice dance competition at the world junior figure skating championships.

The Minto Skating Club duo stands eighth after yesterday's dance compulsories at Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. But their score (32.26) has them only 3.32 points behind Israel's Alexandra and Roman Zaretski, who currently hold down the bronze-medal position in the field of 27 couples.

Fourth place is a point closer to the Ottawa team.

Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin of Russia hold the lead (39.89), followed by Canada's No. 1 entry, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of London (36.91).

"It's close in the whole top 10," Karam, 18, said yesterday. "We're in a good spot ... we can fight through the (original dance) and get more points.

"We're happy with where we are."

Performance-wise, Karam said "it was probably the strongest" compulsory they've skated all season.

"We skated really strong," she said. "We did a good job, the same as we do in practice all the time."

The event is new to Karam and McGrath, but the opposition isn't. They've faced many of these couples on the Junior Grand Prix circuit the past two years.

That's partly why the event doesn't have a world championship feel to them just yet.

"There's a lot more teams here and the level of performance is higher," said McGrath, 19. "But it feels a lot like a Junior Grand Prix (event) to me."

The crowd wasn't exactly huge yesterday, but Karam and McGrath expect that will change by Friday night, when the free dance final is held. "It'll be a lot busier on Friday," said Karam. "It was still a great crowd (yesterday). They were really encouraging."

Before that comes tomorrow's original dance, when Karam and McGrath hope to begin making their move upward.

"We just want to skate our best, and focus on our elements and execution," said McGrath.

In the women's short program, Vancouver's Mira Leung finished a disappointing 12th last night. She had been considered a medal contender, but has serious work to do after posting a 43.22-point score.

Calgary's Amanda Billings placed ninth (45.93). Favoured Mao Asada of Japan leads (60.11).


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