(August 30, 2008 - COURCHEVEL, France) – Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill, both of Toronto, won the silver medal Saturday in the ice dance competition to conclude the first stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix Circuit in figure skating.
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the U.S., took the gold medal with 157.84 points. Ralph and Hill, fourth after Thursday's compulsory dance and second after Friday's original dance, followed at 146.84. Lucie Mysliveckova and Matej Novak of the Czech Republic were third at 139.72.
''The result was well beyond our expectations,'' said Hill who placed eighth with his partner at the world junior championships last year. ''We gained a lot of confidence with our original dance and executed almost everything perfectly today in the free dance. Our programs are completely different than last year and we're executing a lot more difficult skills.''
Ralph admitted she was feeling nervous heading into Saturday's final.
''I tried to concentrate more on the story and not worry so much about the elements,'' said Ralph, 16, a year younger than Hill. ''I thought we went out and did it very well. I was especially pleased that we executed our twizzle cleanly.''
Maja Vermeulen of Acton, Ont., and Andrew Doleman of Dundas, Ont., were 10th.
In the men's singles final, Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic took the gold with Armin Mahbanoozadeh of the U.S., second and Florent Amadio of France third.
Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., was 10th while Jackson Wood of Oromocto, N.B., was 17th. Poirier was making his international debut in men's singles. Last year he won a silver medal in ice dancing with partner Vanessa Crone at the world juniors. They'll compete on the senior Grand Prix this season.
''Falling early in the long program really threw me off,'' said Poirier, 16. ''But I was pleased I was able to recuperate afterwards and execute my elements. It's really exciting that I'll be able to compete on both circuits this season. It's a lot of work but I've been doing both events for so long now that I'm use to it.''
Wood, the Canadian novice champion, was making his junior Grand Prix debut.
''I was happy with my long program and the fact I moved up a spot,'' said Wood, 16. ''I landed a few triple jumps and that really helped my confidence after a tough short program. It's been an eye opening experience and it's been very impressive to see so many so many strong skaters internationally.''
The second stop on the junior Grand Prix is next week in Merano, Italy.