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

McNamara-Carpenter-14LPIDC-JrFDA-2015-MC-DB_595

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

13RusJN-FD-4317-PV-JK_595

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

2012_World_Junior_FS_Rachel_Parsons_Michael_Parsons

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

2014_ISU_Junior_Grand_Prix_Final_Alla_Loboda_Pavel_Drozd_IMG_2816

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! 🙂

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