A Few of My Favorite Things, 2015-16: All Things Junior

This is gonna be a good one.

In this fifth installment in the Favorite Things series, I will be revisiting my favorite programs and moments on the Junior level this season. Since I am an avid follower of junior competitions and just generally love the juniors a lot, I can’t wait to take a look back at my favorite junior things this season!

Note: this was going to include costumes, but I did a costumes recap at Junior Worlds and I would just end up repeating myself.

Favorite Junior Programs 

Favorite Short Program (Junior Ladies): Marin Honda-“Spring Sonata”

I like to call Marin’s SP the Mini-Mao Program™ because it reminds me a lot of some of Mao Asada’s early programs-which is definitely a compliment! Marin has a lovely softness and a naturally lyrical style that I love, which this program showcased beautifully. A lot of juniors seem to default to the “darke, heaviiy and dramatik!” type of programs, for some odd reason (which I will never understand), so the lightness of Marin’s short program was very refreshing. (That is also why I enjoyed Alisa Fedichkina’s SP, which was of a similar style, but I felt that Marin did it better, so she got the nod here.)

Favorite Free Skate (Junior Ladies): Alisa Fedichkina-“Memory” (French cover)

In my Junior Worlds preview post, I called this free skate a “national treasure.” While we unfortunately didn’t get to see it there, that still stands true. Alisa is a ridiculously expressive skater, and this program was a perfect way to show that off. It’s dramatic and nuanced enough to show off her interpretation skills, without being so dramatic and nuanced that it drowned her. It allows her to be youthful and exploit her cuteness while also showing mature expression and musicality. Really, there was nothing I thought this program was missing. It’s made me a fan of hers (and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one). I really want her to be the next Russian Wunderkind when she’s old enough for seniors because she has almost everything: expression, jumps, spins, musicality, polish and refinement…her consistency isn’t always great, but still! I really love this child. 🙂

Also, whoever came up with the “kitty spread eagle” (yes, stupid name, but it gets the point across) should be knighted.

Best Short Program (Junior Pairs)-Renata Ognesian/Mark Bardei-“The Race II”

The cheering sounds in the music. The step sequence. The huge triple twist. The literal race car costumes. It is so strange and I love it.

I have watched very little of the pairs at any junior events this season. Can you tell? #NotManyOptions

definitely did might have liked this program because it’s something I can see one of the  pairs in the fictional pairs skating universe in my mind doing. (If I ever see a junior pairs program to Requiem For a Dream, I’ll die, because that is this fictional pair’s signature program, which they did as juniors in my mind. LOL.)

Best Free Skate (Junior Pairs)-Anna Duskova/Martin Bidar (“La Leyenda Del Beso”)

This is actually where I got the idea for my current program, so of course I picked it. I might only like it because of the delightful surprise Junior Worlds win and the music, but I really don’t follow junior pairs, so don’t expect much.

Best Junior Short Dance-Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter (“Peer Gynt”)

In ice dance, there is usually very little space between “bland” and “freakily avant-garde.” I think that’s why I appreciate Lorraine and Quinn so much: they have a good balance of the two. This short dance got better feedback than most of the seniors’ programs did, mainly because it was so unique-I mean, who hears “waltz SD” and thinks “mountain trolls”? I loved it! Fun, quirky, and very well-done. They’ve got a really fantastic style that I can’t wait to see more of. I hope they go seniors and do some amazing weird blues SD, because I need that in my life.

Also, Lorraine gives SUCH FACE. Has she been taking lessons from Wenjing Sui? 😉

(I just got a sudden urge to write a novel about that, actually. I’m very strange.)

Best Junior Free Dance-Anastasia Shpilevaya/Grigory Smirnov (“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”)

Russian senior ice dance may be going through a bit of a crisis period, but their junior dance field is alive and well. Case in point: Shpilevaya/Smirnov, my favorite of their current crop of junior teams. They didn’t have a great JGP but went on to win the Youth Olympics and place an impressive 5th at Junior Worlds-with my favorite junior free dance of the season. They skate with such passion and abandon-if you were to clone Bobrova/Soloviev, fix their posture, make them skate very delicately, and put them through a Dramatic Facial Expression Enhancer, you would get something like this team. Their delicate skating and dramatic facial expressions are a bit of an odd combination, but I like it, and I will basically automatically adore you if you skate to Umbrellas of Cherbourg, so there is also that.

Best Free Skate (Junior Men)-TIE-Daniel Samohin & Roman Sadovsky

I didn’t like any men’s SPs, so I just chose two FSes. I like this one because it is kind of quirky and unusual but not too much so.

And I liked this one because it is very, um, elegant, I think. To be honest, I watched it once-at JGP Bratislava, EIGHT MONTHS AGO (okay, how did that happen)-and I remember liking it, but I’m too lazy to go re-watch it to remember what I liked. Hehe.

Favorite Junior Moments/Performances 2015-16

Emily Chan’s Short Program at the U.S. Championships 

Emily Chan, simply put, is a gorgeous skater. I could watch her spin and do step sequences for an entire free skate and not even notice that she didn’t jump. Her skating is always a pleasure to watch, but when she lands stuff, it’s downright magical, so her flawless short program at Nationals was a no-brainer when I was deciding what to put on this list.

Check this out, 13-year-old jumping machines: it’s the late-bloomer advantage. You can jump, but they will out-spin, out-interpret, and out-footwork you. They are coming.

Maria Sotskova’s Free Skate at Junior Worlds 

Junior Worlds was a bit of a soap opera for the Russian ladies: favorite Polina Tsurskaya withdrew the day of the short program, leaving teammates Alisa Fedichkina and Maria Sotskova to-hopefully-duke it out for the title in her place. Alisa emerged as the frontrunner, tying Marin Honda for the lead in the short program, but she injured her ankle on the day of the free skate, leaving only one competitor, Maria Sotskova, to secure Russia’s three spots for the next Junior Worlds. To do so, she would have to win gold or silver. It was possible-she sat in third after the short-but the pressure was on, and everyone was anxious to see if she would deliver.

Deliver she did. Winning the silver medal, she clinched the three spots singlehandedly, a feat many thought impossible. Maddest respect to Masha for managing to throw down when it seriously counted.

Vivian Le’s Short Program from JGP Bratislava

My favorite junior (#UnbridledPatriotism) did not have a particularly impressive second half of the season, losing the National title she was heavily favored to win and a chance to go the the JGPF when she bombed JGP USA, but three of her events-Glacier Falls, JGP Bratislava and Sectionals-were very good. And when she is on, she is RIDICULOUSLY good. This short program was perfection. I think she might be moving up (she won senior at a club competition with an amazing 71-point SP and a bombed 101-point FS), but I kind of hope she won’t because I really want her to make the JGPF. Senior at Nationals would be fine (it seems like the only way to make Junior Worlds in the US, lol), though. And I’ve gone off on a tangent again…well, you get it. I am kind of too obsessed with Vivian and I will take any chance I get to ramble on about her.

Duskova/Bidar’s Surprise Junior World Title 

Small-federation JWCs make me so happy…*sniff*

McNamara/Carpenter’s US Championships Short Dance 

Any of Lorraine & Quinn’s short dance performances could’ve made this list, but I think this was their finest. #MountainTrollz #PleaseMoveUpWeNeedYouOnTheGP

Parsons/Parsons’ Junior Worlds Short Dance 

Literally nobody expected the Parsons to overtake McNamara/Carpenter at Junior Worlds, so this was a very nice surprise. Note: it broke the Junior SD scoring record.

And now I’m out of ideas. Will be back with the next post soon. 

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