At 15, figure skater Isabeau Levito has artistry beyond her years, strong jumps — and now the title of World Junior champion.

Levito, who lives in Mount Holly and trains in Mount Laurel, earned that honor two weeks ago in Tallinn, Estonia.

The Russian skaters weren’t allowed to compete, of course, because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Levito’s scores were high enough that she likely would have won or placed either way.

Meanwhile, Alysa Liu — the two-time national champion, world bronze medalist, and Olympian— recently announced her retirement at 16. Other American Olympic and world skaters will likely follow.

So Levito, who was too young to earn a spot at this year’s Olympics, could be the next top American woman.

Neither she nor her coach want to go there, though.

“I’m just trying to stay on my own track,” said Levito, who missed the Beijing Olympics because she didn’t turn 15 until March, nine months late to have been eligible.

“I was proud of myself,” she said of her win at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships. “But you know, there’s always room for improvement. I was glad that I landed some new elements. It was my first international competition with them. I was proud for having having done them. And it was a great experience.”

Her coach, Yulia Kuznetsova, who is Russian, agrees. She’s done the math.

“We know what score [the Russian skaters] usually get when they they compete. And we were focusing to get close to the top skill scores.

“People were saying, [Levito is] the one who has to win. We try to keep her away from all this stuff. And we try to focus.”

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The new jumps Levito landed were the triple lutz-triple loop combination in the second half of her short program “as Anna Shcherbakova used to do,” Kuznetsova said of the 2022 Olympic champion, as well as triple flip-triple loop in the second half of her long program.

Aside from the triple axel and quadruple jumps, these combinations are among the hardest elements that figure skaters perform. If they are skated in the second half of a program, they earn bonus points.

The triple lutz-triple loop in the second half of the program, Kuznetsova said, is worth nearly as many points as a triple axel in the first half of the program, where most skaters do it, before they get too tired.

The commentators often talk about skaters doing similar math, adding up the points while they’re on the ice, but Levito said she doesn’t do that.

“It would probably be very hard to think about a score that you want to reach when you’re in the middle of your program. You know, I feel like that would probably only make things somewhat worse. Maybe once you’re already in the kiss-and-cry [awaiting the scores]. Not when you’re actually skating.”

But her coach’s strategy paid off earlier in the year, too. Levito was assigned to two Junior Grand Prix events. She won gold at the Junior Grand Prix competition in France and the silver medal at another Junior Grand Prix, in Austria. In Austria, she was on the podium between two Russian skaters.

At the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January, she competed as a senior and won the bronze medal, standing on the podium next to the older skaters who would go to the Olympics in Beijing.

“I’m very happy for everything we got this year,” Kuznetsova said. “We saw accomplishments. But I know I have to work for even harder so it can start to start to show what she can really do on the practices.”

That includes improving her confidence in competition and gaining more speed.

“She didn’t want to make mistakes; she plays it safe,” Kuznetsova said of Levito’s performance at World Juniors, where she won the short program and came in second in the long. “My goal is teach her to skate out of her mind. You know, like, let it go and just show them what you have — which I think this is the hardest thing.

Slava Kuznetsov agreed. He is Kuznetsova’s husband and another one of Levito’s coaches.

“You train like hours and hours and years to do that,” he said. “So you have to trust your body.”

At their home rink, The Igloo in Mount Laurel, Kuznetsova can see what Levito is capable of.

“I really enjoy working with her artistry, because she has so much personality. And when she’s relaxing, she’s showing off. And that’s what I really need to see. That’s what I’m missing in competition: showing off. But I see this in the practices right now.”

Levito took one week off after worlds, then spent last week breaking in new boots and blades. She will be back to training jumps, spins, and other elements this week and will get new programs soon after. The triple axel is her next likely jump, followed perhaps by the quadruple toe loop.

Levito is not ready to say when these will show up in her competition programs.

“I don’t want to put a deadline to when I have to do that, because that makes it stressful,” she said. ”I don’t want to say, ‘I want to get this by next season,’ because then if you don’t, it feels weird because you told everyone that you’re going to do it by then. But definitely, within the future, I plan to land a quad or triple axel.”

“We’ll definitely keep working on the triple axel and continue to work on the quality of, like, everything,” Kuznetsova said. “Like, not only the jumps, but spins are important, transitions in the program are important, footwork, everything, style. Everything’s important. And this takes so much time.”

What likely helps is that coach and skater know each other so well. Kuznetsova has been coaching Levito since the skater was 3.

They spend hours together every day on the ice, something few other American skaters have the luxury of doing.

“So that’s why she’s very successful,” Kuznetsova said, noting that both Levito and her mother, Chiara Garberi, love skating and have made a strong commitments.

“Sometimes I think I know her better than my own son,” Kuznetsova said. “I know what music she likes. ... And if she likes the music, of course, it’s much easier because she’ll start dancing on her own.”

What is unknown is whether Levito will compete internationally next year as a junior or a senior.

The International Skating Union is talking about raising the age for international competition, in an effort to prevent both doping and pushing very young skaters beyond what their bodies and minds can handle. Sixteen-year-old Russian skater Kamila Valieva was found to have a positive drug test, and her teammate, Alexandra Trusova, 17, had a public meltdown when she had to settle for the Olympic silver medal.

The ISU will make a decision this summer.

Raising the age might give Levito an unusual bid to defend her World Junior title next year. In the past, any champion old enough has usually moved to the senior ranks.

This year’s World Junior podium included two skaters from New Jersey as well as one from Korea. Lindsay Thorngren, 16, from Montclair, earned the bronze. Levito and Thorngren have been competing against each other since they were little girls.

“I think it’s kind of cool when you’re at worlds, where like the whole world is competing,” Levito said, “and then two medalists come from a very similar part in the world.

“If you think of the entire world and then you think of the size of New Jersey and how two medalists came from there. I thought it was really funny.”