JGP Bratislava Ladies Recap

Hi all! Quick recap here for you!

LADIES RESULTS
1 Polina TSURSKAYA, RUS, 189.50
2 Mai MIHARA, JPN, 179.36
3 Vivian LE, USA, 176.30
4 Rin NITAYA, JPN, 150.35
5 Valeriya MIKHAILOVA, RUS, 141.32

POLINA TSURSKAYA, 189.50 

This was my first time watching Polina, and I was not as impressed as I expected to be. People online made me think she would be super artistic, and, well…her skating comes off a little cold to me (particularly in the FS). She is, however, an insanely good jumper-that definitely lived up to the hype. Absolutely insane. Still, her presentation needs work, and she looks like yet another arm flailer. Oh, joy.

MAI MIHARA, 179.36

This was also my first time watching Mai, and she is just lovely! She’s a good jumper, too, but her strength is her polish. She skates very maturely for her age. I enjoyed her very much, and she also had lovely costumes.

VIVIAN LE, USA, 176.30 

Vivian is the skater I was most looking forward to seeing in this event, and she did not disappoint. Though I thought she would get the silver, 3rd is no small accomplishment for your first JGP! Another lovely skater-and her Rippon 3lz-3t is PERFECTION.

RIN NITAYA, 150.53

Rin Nitaya may not have had the showing she was capable of, but she still stood out to me because of one thing: she has some of the most interesting combination spins I have ever seen! I loved that they weren’t the generic ones everybody does, and the timing was really unique-you’ll have to watch to see what I mean. Unfortunately, her FS was not available on YouTube at press time.

VALERIYA MIKHAILOVA, 141.42

Tied with Vivian, my favorite of the top 5 here. I loved the music she used, and her step sequence in the SP was GOALS. Just GOALS. She’s a decent jumper and very light and smooth over the ice. On a side note, needs better costumes.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments of any kind? I’d love to hear them! 

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2015-16 Junior Grand Prix Preview: Ice Dance

Hi! Back with my second set of JGP previews, this for my other favorite discipline, which is, of course, ice dance. And honestly, I don’t even know where to start.

This is going to be one interesting season.

Why, you ask? Well, a lot has to do with a pattern I’ve discovered in my weekend IceNetwork binge-watching. Most Olympic quads go somewhat like this: one year a dud, one year a statement where new stars emerge, one year where the stars solidify their frontrunner status, and the Olympic year.

If the 2015-16 season follows this pattern, this year will be the statement year, and that means it’s super important for juniors to bring it this season. With two years to go, they’ve got time, but they need to be on it this year to prove they can contend for their respective Olympic teams. And with most of the Junior Worlds top 5 moving up, there is no better time to win. Here are the four junior couples I most expect to do just that.

Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter, USA

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Ages: 16 (Lorraine)/19 (Quinn)

Personal Bests: SD 59.10, FD 87.80, total 146.90

Claim to fame: 2015 world junior silver medalists, 2015 US junior champions

Why to watch: as the highest 2015 Junior Worlds finishers of the field, they’re clear favorites for the world title. They have lovely lifts (as seen above), and they get excellent speed over the ice. Their twizzles aren’t half bad, either.

Needs work: this is going to sound really catty, but their SD music last year was incredibly annoying, and their FD was to one of the most overused pieces of music in skating. They need better programs, and a little work on the presentation wouldn’t hurt.

Betina Popova & Yuri Vlasenko, Russia

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Ages: 18 (Betina)/20 (Yuri)

Personal Bests: SD 59.91, FD 87.40, total 147.31

Claim to fame: 2014 JGP final bronze medalists

Why to watch: this team’s strength is in their line and positions. Betina is crazy-flexible and it allows them to do some really gorgeous lifts. The positions they hit are unreal in the best possible way, and their twizzles are decent.

Needs work: this team has a lot to prove after a dismal 11th-place finish at last year’s junior worlds. It’s going to take some medals to prove they’re still capable.

Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons, USA

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Ages: 17 (Rachel)/19 (Michael)

Personal Bests: SD 59.54, FD 84.05, total 140.33

Claim to fame: 4th at 2015 Junior Worlds

Why to watch: they’ve always been a technically solid team, but this summer, they’ve worked a lot on PCS. They’re shaping up to be real contenders for the world junior title this season.

Needs work: While their current ones are not necessarily bad, they could use some better lift positions.

Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd, Russia

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Ages: 16 (Alla)/19 (Pavel)

Personal Bests: SD 54.55, FD 82.59, total 136.31

Claim to fame: 2014 JGP Final silver medalists

Why to watch: Alla & Pavel are a very balletic team, and I really like that quality in ice dancers. (They have excellent arm and hand positions.) Also, their twizzles are some of the best in the (junior) business.

Needs work: Depth of edge. I also need to make a superficial comment: they need to fire their costume designer ASAP.

Agree? Disagree? Did I miss anybody? If you’ve got anything to say, I’d love to hear from you! Comments are always great! 🙂

2015-16 Junior Grand Prix Preview: Ladies

With the ISU Junior Grand Prix coming up in just two days, I thought there’d be no more fitting time to preview some of the ladies expected to make a splash this year. Of course, there are the obligatory Russians, who seem to be winning everything these days, but several Japanese ladies have been looking very strong, and a handful of American ladies hope to improve on the United States’ abysmal showing at last year’s Junior Worlds. Approaching the JGP, here are five names you need to know.

Serafima Sakhanovich, Russia

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Age: 15

Nickname: Sima

Personal Bests: SP 66.58, FS 125.38, total 191.96

Claim to fame: 2014 and 2015 junior world silver medalist

Why to watch: She has a lovely presence on the ice that lends itself well to connecting with the audience and her music. She probably has the most complete package of all the Russian juniors. She’s also very fast and has good spins (except the biellman).

Needs work: Sima has a tendency to go into her jumps hunched over, and why must every jump be a ‘tano?!? Her biellman is also horrific. But those are pretty minor compared to something like, say, terrible inconsistency or no artistry whatsoever.

Wakaba Higuchi, Japan

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Age: 14

Nickname: called “Wakababy” by fans

Personal Bests: SP 61.27, FS 124.30, total 187.57

Claim to fame: 2015 junior world bronze medalist

Why to watch: Jumps. That’s literally all there is to Wakaba. She is a phenomenal jumper, and she gets crazy height for someone as small as she is (4′ 10″).

Needs work: performance/artistry

Maria Sotskova, Russia

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Age: 15

Nickname: Masha

Personal Bests: SP 62.28, FS 115.46, total 176.75

Claim to fame: 2013 JGP Final champion, 5th at 2015 Junior Worlds-and my favorite Russian junior 🙂

Why to watch: She’s one of the most experienced skaters on the JGP, so she knows the ropes better than almost any of her competitors. She’s a beautiful skater to watch and pretty expressive for a junior, as well as having good spins (especially her layback) and excellent flexibility.

Needs work: Maria is painfully slow, and it severely hampers her performance. She also has really small, sloppy jumps and a tendency to go into them bent over, which drives me insane.

Amber Glenn, USA 

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Age: 15 (will be 16 in October, at the end of the JGPs)

Personal Bests: SP 56.84, FS 107.34, total 164.18

Claim to fame: 2014 US Junior champion, 7th at 2014 Junior Worlds

Why to watch: She has incredible jumps when they’re on, and her spins are good, too. When she’s having a good day, her skating is truly world-class.

Needs work: horribly inconsistent, Amber has the Gracie Gold Curse of having amazing jumps but not being able to get them out under pressure. She just needs to work on her mental toughness.

Vivian Le, USA

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Age: 15

Personal Bests: None recorded in her ISU profile yet.

Claim to fame: At the recent Glacier Falls Summer Classic, Vivian won with scores that would’ve easily had her medaling at Junior Worlds and in the top 7 at senior Worlds. She also won the inaugural Freezer Aerial Challenge (a jump competition) with a 3lutz-3toe-3toe, and the 2015 US Junior bronze medal.

Why to watch: Incredibly impressive scores and gigantic jumps make Vivan one to watch this season. She may not have much experience, but she’s got what it takes to be right up there.

Needs work: more than anything, Vivian needs experience. She’s done so few international competitions that she hasn’t built up her all-important reputation, which impacts her PCS.

Marin Honda, Japan

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Age: 13

Personal Bests: None recorded yet

Claim to fame: I’m honestly not sure. To be honest, she seems kind of over-hyped to me, but everybody’s expecting her to do well, so…why not?

Why to watch: many people are expecting a lot from her, and she’s working on 3Axels and 4Sals. Marin can also entertain a crowd-she always has really fun exhibitions, and she really seems happy to be skating.

Needs work: She’s not even junior eligible, and she’s just up from novice, so what she really needs is time. Growth may knock her out of the running as she’s likely not even close to done yet. And, like Vivian, she needs experience.
Agree? Disagree? Did I miss someone? Have anything to say whatsoever? Then please leave a comment!