ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Preview: Time to say hello
The juniors are stepping into the limelight at the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Torino, Italy. There are many new and talented youngsters that wait to be discovered by fans and a large audience. Russia qualified more skaters than any other country for the Junior Final: four Ladies, three men, five pairs and three ice dance couples.
Junior Ladies: Russia still dominant
Russia continued its dominance in the discipline, but this time they got “only” four girls into the Junior Final. All six skaters will compete in their first Final. Russian skaters have won the gold in the Ladies discipline since 2010 – for nine consecutive years and have swept the podium four times.
Russia’s Kamila Valieva is another “product” of Eteri Tutberidze’s school in Moscow – a beautiful skater with excellent jumps and spins. She has landed the quad toe in competition.
Alysa Liu (USA) made history as she is the first female skater to complete a triple Axel and a quadruple jump – she did a quad Lutz – in one program. Will Liu break the Russian stronghold on the Ladies’ gold? She has the goods to do so. She plans two triple Axels in the long program and two quad Lutzes.
Haein Lee from the Republic of Korea proves that Korean Ladies are up and coming. She claimed gold in her two events, showing strong and consistent performances.
Kseniia Sinitsyna of Russia trains with Svetlana Panova. She is another exquisite skater, but has not yet a triple Axel or quad in her arsenal, although she has been working on them.
Daria Usacheva of Russia comes from Tutberidze’s camp. However, she was not yet as consistent as other Russian Junior Ladies.
Russia’s Viktoria Vasilieva finally is a student of Sergei Davydov. She is an athletic and consistent skater.
Junior Men: Russians are catching up
The Russian men had far less success than the Ladies in the past few years, but the new generation of Russian Juniors is eager to change that. Russia got three men in the Final, but Japan qualified two strong competitors as well. The Junior Men feature the lone entry from host country Italy in the Final – junior or senior. The last Russian man to win the Junior Final was Dmitri Aliev in December 2016.
Russia’s Andrei Mozalev comes with two wins from the Junior Grand Prix series to the Final and he is the only one of the Junior men who managed that. The skater from St. Petersburg, a student of Kirill Davydenko, has improved a lot this season, gaining more consistency.
Petr Gumennik, also from Russia, won the silver medal a year ago in the Final and is the only one of the six Junior Men to have qualified before. He has added the quad Lutz to his repertoire that included the quad Salchow before.
Russian Daniil Samsonov, 14, is the youngest skater of the six, but he has a quad Lutz. Samsonov is a student of Eteri Tutberidze.
Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama has shown excellent performances in the Junior series this season. His father and coach Masakazu is a two-time Olympian.
Shun Sato is another promising skater from Japan. He won in Lake Placid and got the bronze in Zagreb on his way to the Final. He has landed the quad toe in competition and also attempted the quad Salchow. For the Junior Final, he plans a quad Lutz.
Italy’s Daniel Grassl can’t wait to compete in his first Final in his home country. The 2019 World Junior bronze medalist has landed the quad Lutz and quad loop in competition.
Pairs: Russia, what else?
Russia once again qualified five pairs for the Junior Final. The Russians swept the podium last year and chances for another sweep are not bad, especially since the only non-Russian pair has been skating together for less than a year.
Apollinariia Panfilova/Dmitry Rylov are the only team to have won their two events. They have beautiful pair elements, but the solo jumps are their weak side. They are still struggling to include a triple jump, but in juniors, they can make up for that with the other elements.
Iuliia Artemeva/Mikhail Nazarychev come from the Perm school like Panfilova/Rylov. They left a strong impression, but tend to make mistakes on the throw jumps.
Kseniia Akhanteva/Valerii Kolesov are students of the Velikovs in St. Petersburg. They ranked fourth in the Junior Final a year ago. Akhanteva/Kolesov have made big step forward this season in expression and maturity.
Diana Mukhametzianova/Ilya Mironov are a new team from Moscow. They stand out by doing side by side triple Lutz and flip in the free skating, but you still can see that they were single skaters not so long ago.
Alina Pepeleva/Roman Pleshkov come like Mukhametzianoa/Mironov from Nina Mozer’s school in Moscow. They compete in the second Junior Grand Prix season.
Germany’s Annika Hocke/Robert Kunkel started skating together half a year ago and celebrated instant success by claiming two bronze medals in their Junior Grand Prix events. They are still rough around the edges but they made a lot of progress in a short time.
Ice Dance: American-Russian duel to be expected
The Ice Dance event features three Russian couples as well as a couple each from the USA, Georgia and France. Two and a half teams have competed in the Junior Final a year ago: top qualifiers Avonley Nguyen/Vadym Kolesnik (USA), Georgia’s Maria Kazakova/Georgy Reviya and
Russian Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva, who claimed the bronze last year with former partner Nikita Nazarov and now is back with her new partner Andrey Filatov. Russia swept the Junior Ice Dance podium last year, but that will be hard to repeat this year.
Avonley Nguyen/Vadym Kolesnik have gained experience and grown as performers to lead the Junior Grand Prix standings with two victories from the series and the highest total scores. They come from Igor Shpilband’s school in Novi, MI. Kolesnik is originally from Ukraine, but moved to the USA to train under Shpilband who teamed him up with the exotic and expressive Nguyen.
Russia’s Elizaveta Shanaeva/Devid Naryzhnyy struck gold in their two events as well to make it to the Final for the first time. The Muscovites train in Irina Zhuk and Alexander Svinin’s school and please with a dynamic, outgoing style. Naryzhnyy comes from a skating family.
Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva/Andrey Filatov, also from Russia, are a very new team that has been skating together only since last spring, yet they managed to win both their JGP events. With her former partner Nikita Nazarov, Khudaiberdieva is the 2019 World Junior silver medalist, but split up with him after the season to continue her career with Filatov. They are coached by Denis Samokhin and Maria Borovikova in the Moscow suburb of Balashikha.
Maria Kazakova/Georg Reviya compete in their second consecutive Junior Final and are the first Georgian dance team to win a Junior Grand Prix event – the Croatia Cup in Zagreb. Not surprisingly they train in Russia (under Samokhin and Borovikova like Khudaiberdieva/Filatov) and have been born and raised in Russia. Reviya is of Georgian descent.
France’s Loicia Demougeout/Theo Le Mercier have been competing on the junior circuit since 2016 and have worked their way up to reach their first Junior Final. They train with Karine Arribert-Narce, who is known for her innovative and extravagant choreography, in Villard de Lans near Grenoble.
Diana Davis/Gleb Smolkin are the third Russian dance team in the Final. They are skating in their second season as a team and have moved from Moscow to the USA to join Shpilband’s school. They debut in the Junior Final. Davis is the daughter of famous Russian coach Eteri Tutberidze.
Find all results,live stream and more information on the ISU website here.