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


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


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


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 


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


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!


3 thoughts on “2015-16 Junior Grand Prix Preview: Ladies

  1. Your comments on Russian girls are nice and sharp but what are Glenn and Honda doing on this list ? You certainly missed Polina Tsurskaya, a big new name of Russian squad. With her last year scores and consistency she may be not only a candidate to GP final but can pretend to winninig it. It is unclear when growth problems will catch her though. By the way, she is a part of the group where Lipnitskaia and Medvedeva are training.
    Last year, when one asked their coach Tutberidze how does she manage to work with so many people, she answered smiling “you just did not see all I have”, meaning Polina.


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