JGP Hype!: 10 Junior Ladies To Watch For This Season

IT’S ALMOST JGP TIME *weird excited dance*, which is THE BEST TIME, because juniors are amazing and I almost always end up ubering a 13-to-15-year-old and having to cross my fingers they never find this blog. (Lookin’ at you, Vivian. Speaking of which, she will probably not be in this because she’s competed as a senior at club competitions recently, so I have no idea if she is moving up.) It’s just a few weeks away, and you know what that means: preview time!

So, here are 10 junior ladies I think will make a splash this season!

1. Polina Tsurskaya, Russia

Why She’s One To Watch: Polina totally dominated the junior circuit last season up until her unexpected last-minute withdrawal from Junior Worlds due to an injury sustained in practice. She’s primarily a jumper: her textbook-perfect, freakishly consistent jumps are some of the best I’ve ever seen. But she also has strong spins and presentation. She’s very tall (5′ 6″ according to the ISU, but could be more) and, unlike most tall juniors, actually uses it to her advantage. I love the way she uses her long limbs to enhance the performance, if that makes any sense. When used properly, that can give you a commanding ice presence; Polina gets it right, and combined with her speed and powerful jumps, it does.

2. Marin Honda, Japan

Why She’s One To Watch: Marin was the suprise Junior World Champion last season after the withdrawals of Polina Tsurskaya and teammate Alisa Fedichkina, who she tied in the SP. She doesn’t pack the biggest technical punch: her 3-3 in the SP last season was a 3Lo-3T, which she will not be able to do this season due to 3Lo being the solo jump, and in the FS, a 3S-3T. If she skates clean, as we’ve seen, that won’t hold her back: her jumps are solid, her spins great, and her presentation some of the strongest in the field. But she’s not particularly consistent.  She’s able to keep up, though, and a lot of that is because of her stellar presentation. She has an easy grace and lightness to her skating that’s very pleasant to watch, and her interpretation is great. I call her Baby Mao because her artistic style reminds me a lot of Mao Asada as a junior. That kind of says it all.

3. Alisa Fedichkina, Russia 

Why She’s One To Watch: Alisa is, in a word, charming. Her lyrical, dainty style and adorable smolness (smol=new favorite word) are a delightful combination and she connects to both crowd and programs superbly. Her jumps are a little bit small, but she usually lands them; she’s consistent, though not robotically so, a la Polina. And her spins are excellent. Along with Marin, she’s one of the few juniors whose artistry stands out more than her technical content. Provided she can land things, she will definitely be a strong contender.

4. Elizaveta Nugumanova, Russia

Why She’s One To Watch: Liza is one of the debuting juniors that many people are expecting good things from, with good reason. She’s got it all: her jump technique is excellent (a hallmark of Alexei Mishin pupils, of which she is one), her spins are great, and her presentation is good. She’s not exactly the picture of artistic maturity, but her youthful interpretation really works and is a joy to watch. She makes excellent use of arm variations in jumps (they’re utilized but not overdone), which is good for the scores. And her 3Lo-backended 3-3s are truly gorgeous. Oh, and she’s also extremely consistent. Unless something changes dramatically over the next few months, I’m expecting her to win stuff. ūüôā

5. Ye Lim Kim, South Korea 

Why She’s One To Watch: Ye Lim recently won the Korean JGP Selection Event Thingy I Don’t Remember The Official Name Of with a truly impressive technical layout: in the FS, for example, a 3Lz-2Lo that looked popped and was likely intended to be a 3-3, a 3Lz-3T, and an improvised 3F-3T thrown in at the end. And she’s a truly astounding backloader: two of her three jumping passes in the SP are in the bonus, and SIX(!) of her seven jumps in the FS are after the halfway point. Her spins are strong, too. I’m a bit lukewarm on her programs and interpretation, and she could use more speed, but with a layout like that…wow.

6. Kaori Sakamoto, Japan 

Why She’s One To Watch: as far as I know, Kaori’s been on the JGP the longest of anyone on this list. This is her third season, so she has a lot more experience than most of these girls. Her jumps are her standout: solid but floaty, with that inexplicably satisfying “crack” when she taps in for a toe jump. She’s not much of a standout in spins or presentation, but she’s done well on the JGP in the past, so she’s going on this list.

7. Anastasia Gubanova, Russia

Why She’s One To Watch: another of the Russian debutantes, Anastasia is a very expressive skater with lovely lines, spins. Her jumps are great, too: she has a gorgeous 3Lz-3Lo. Anastasia’s issue is with consistency, unlike most of her teammates. Which is a shame, because she’s so strong artistically; her polish is very impressive for a junior. Hopefully, she can keep it together at her events.

8. Alexia Paganini, USA 

Why She’s One To Watch: Alexia has been doing very well at the club competitions she’s done this summer, with near-60 SPs and near-100 FSes. She’s also successfully added a 3Lz-3T to her short program and attempts two 3-3s, 3T-3T and 3S-1Lo-3S, in her free skate. Not on the level of the Russian girls, but strong content nonetheless. Her spins and presentation are nice, too, and she’s fairly consistent. However, she does not seem to attempt the 3F, which might hold her back a little bit (correct me if I’m wrong on this one).

9. Alisa Lozko, Russia

Why She’s One To Watch: yet another debuting Russian, Alisa boasts a great 3Lo-3Lo and one of the best laybacks in the business. She’s not really the greatest artistically, and sometimes her jumps are a bit sketchy, but she could definitely be up there.

10. Ashley Kim, USA 

Why She’s One To Watch: Ashley seems like an odd pick for this list because she’s never been to Nationals (at any level), but she’s had an extremely promising summer. She won the Freezer Aerial Challenge, a jump event, with stellar 3-3s, which also helped her mop the floor with her competition at various summer events. She’s also a strong spinner (her layback is especially fantastic). Her presentation is a bit frantic and unpolished, but she’s a very talented jumper (like many of her Dallas FSC training mates-winkwinknudgenudge). So, on the list she goes!

Advertisements

The GP Assignments Post

It’s that time of year again: that day we wait for for months, only for the announcement to be made four hours later than desired expected, and then become even more impatient for the season to start.

It’s Grand Prix Assignment Release Day/Week (#latetotheparty)!

So, here are my thoughts on this! Events will be covered in chronological order. For reference, here are the entry lists (copied and pasted from the ISU website, because I am supremely good at pilfering things so I won’t have to write them myself):

 

Skate America

Chicago, IL October 21-23, 2016

Skate Canada Int.

Mississauga, ON October 28-30, 2016

Rostelecom Cup

Moscow November 4-6, 2016

TropheŐĀe de France

Paris November 11-13, 2016

Audi Cup of China

Beijing November 18-20, 2016

NHK Trophy

Sapporo November 25-27, 2016

Julianne SEGUIN / Charlie BILODEAU CAN

Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD CAN

Kirsten MOORE-TOWERS / Michael MARINARO CAN

Miriam ZIEGLER / Severin KIEFER AUT

Lubov ILIUSHECHKINA / Dylan MOSCOVITCH CAN

Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD CAN

Wenjing SUI / Cong HAN CHN

Lubov ILIUSHECHKINA / Dylan MOSCOVITCH CAN

Julianne SEGUIN / Charlie BILODEAU CAN

Lola ESBRAT / Andrei NOVOSELOV FRA

Cheng PENG / Yang JIN CHN

Kirsten MOORE-TOWERS / Michael MARINARO CAN

Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES FRA

TBD CAN

Aliona SAVCHENKO / Bruno MASSOT GER

Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES FRA

Wenjing SUI / Cong HAN CHN

Cheng PENG / Yang JIN CHN

Kristina ASTAKHOVA / Alexei ROGONOV RUS

Xiaoyu YU / Hao ZHANG CHN

Valentina MARCHEI / Ondrej HOTAREK ITA

Camille MENDOZA / Pavel KOVALEV FRA

Xiaoyu YU / Hao ZHANG CHN

Xuehan WANG / Lei WANG CHN

Evgenia TARASOVA / Vladimir MOROZOV RUS

Nicole DELLA MONICA / Matteo GUARISE ITA

Kristina ASTAKHOVA / Alexei ROGONOV RUS

Aliona SAVCHENKO / Bruno MASSOT GER

Mari VARTMANN / Ruben BLOMMAERT GER

Sumire SUTO / Francis BOUDREAU AUDET
JPN

Madeline AARON / Max SETTLAGE USA

Vera BAZAROVA / Andrei DEPUTAT RUS

Ksenia STOLBOVA / Fedor KLIMOV RUS

Evgenia TARASOVA / Vladimir MOROZOV RUS

Nicole DELLA MONICA / Matteo GUARISE ITA

TBD JPN

Tarah KAYNE / Daniel O SHEA USA

Yuko KAVAGUTI / Alexander SMIRNOV RUS

Natalia ZABIIAKO / Alexander ENBERT RUS

Natalia ZABIIAKO / Alexander ENBERT RUS

Yuko KAVAGUTI / Alexander SMIRNOV RUS

Ksenia STOLBOVA / Fedor KLIMOV RUS

TBD USA

Haven DENNEY / Brandon FRAZIER USA

Alexa SCIMECA / Chris KNIERIM USA

Marissa CASTELLI / Mervin TRAN USA

Alexa SCIMECA / Chris KNIERIM USA

Tarah KAYNE / Daniel O SHEA USA

8

8

8

8

8

8

Skate America

Chicago, IL October 21-23, 2016

Skate Canada Int.

Mississauga, ON October 28-30, 2016

Rostelecom Cup

Moscow November 4-6, 2016

TropheŐĀe de France

Paris November 11-13, 2016

Audi Cup of China

Beijing November 18-20, 2016

NHK Trophy

Sapporo November 25-27, 2016

Brendan KERRY AUS

Patrick CHAN CAN

Elladj BALDE CAN

Chafik BESSEGHIER FRA

Patrick CHAN CAN

Elladj BALDE CAN

Jorik HENDRICKX BEL

Liam FIRUS CAN

Chafik BESSEGHIER FRA

Romain PONSART FRA

Boyang JIN CHN

Nam NGUYEN CAN

Nam NGUYEN CAN

TBD CAN

Alexei BYCHENKO ISR

Ivan RIGHINI ITA

Han YAN CHN

Alexei BYCHENKO ISR

Boyang JIN CHN

Han YAN CHN

Keiji TANAKA JPN

Takahito MURA JPN

TBD CHN

Ivan RIGHINI ITA

Daisuke MURAKAMI JPN

Michal BREZINA CZE

Shoma UNO JPN

Sota YAMAMOTO JPN

Michal BREZINA CZE

Yuzuru HANYU JPN

Shoma UNO JPN

Daniel SAMOHIN ISR

Deniss VASILJEVS LAT

Denis TEN KAZ

Daniel SAMOHIN ISR

Keiji TANAKA JPN

Denis TEN KAZ

Yuzuru HANYU JPN

Artur DMITRIEV RUS

Artur DMITRIEV RUS

Daisuke MURAKAMI JPN

Sota YAMAMOTO JPN

Maxim KOVTUN RUS

Takahito MURA JPN

Mikhail KOLYADA RUS

Adian PITKEEV RUS

Maxim KOVTUN RUS

Mikhail KOLYADA RUS

Sergei VORONOV RUS

Alexander PETROV RUS

TBD RUS

Javier FERNANDEZ ESP

Alexander PETROV RUS

Adian PITKEEV RUS

Jason BROWN USA

Grant HOCHSTEIN USA

Javier FERNANDEZ ESP

Nathan CHEN USA

Sergei VORONOV RUS

Jason BROWN USA

Adam RIPPON USA

Ross MINER USA

Alexander MAJOROV SWE

Adam RIPPON USA

Max AARON USA

Nathan CHEN USA

TBD USA

Misha GE UZB

Max AARON USA

Misha GE UZB

Ross MINER USA

Grant HOCHSTEIN USA

12

12

12

12

12

12

Skate America

Chicago, IL October 21-23, 2016

Skate Canada Int.

Mississauga, ON October 28-30, 2016

Rostelecom Cup

Moscow November 4-6, 2016

TropheŐĀe de France

Paris November 11-13, 2016

Audi Cup of China

Beijing November 18-20, 2016

NHK Trophy

Sapporo November 25-27, 2016

Isabella TOBIAS / Ilia TKACHENKO ISR

Piper GILLES / Paul POIRIER
CAN

Viktoria KAVALIOVA / Yurii BIELIAIEV BLR

Piper GILLES / Paul POIRIER CAN

Alexandra PAUL / Mitchell ISLAM CAN

Tessa VIRTUE / Scott MOIR CAN

Charlene GUIGNARD / Marco FABBRI ITA

Alexandra PAUL / Mitchell ISLAM CAN

Kaitlyn WEAVER / Andrew POJE CAN

Lorenza ALESSANDRINI / Pierre SOUQUET FRA

Kaitlyn WEAVER / Andrew POJE CAN

Marie-Jade LAURIAULT / Romain LE GAC FRA

Kana MURAMOTO / Chris REED JPN

Tessa VIRTUE / Scott MOIR CAN

Laurence FOURNIER BEAUDRY / Nikolaj SORENSEN DEN

Marie-Jade LAURIAULT / Romain LE GAC FRA

Hong CHEN / Yan ZHAO CHN

Gabriella PAPADAKIS / Guillaume CIZERON FRA

Rebeka KIM / Kirill MINOV KOR

Shiyue WANG / Xinyu LIU CHN

Charlene GUIGNARD / Marco FABBRI ITA

Gabriella PAPADAKIS / Guillaume CIZERON FRA

Shiyue WANG / Xinyu LIU CHN

Penny COOMES / Nicholas BUCKLAND GBR

Ekaterina BOBROVA / Dmitri SOLOVIEV RUS

Laurence FOURNIER BEAUDRY / Nikolaj SORENSEN DEN

Ekaterina BOBROVA / Dmitri SOLOVIEV RUS

Penny COOMES / Nicholas BUCKLAND GBR

TBD CHN

Anna CAPPELLINI / Luca LANOTTE ITA

Elena ILINYKH / Ruslan ZHIGANSHIN RUS

Anna CAPPELLINI / Luca LANOTTE ITA

Tiffany ZAHORSKY / Jonathan GUERREIRO RUS

Isabella TOBIAS / Ilia TKACHENKO ISR

Natalia KALISZEK / Maksim SPODIREV POL

Emi HIRAI / Marien DE LA ASUNCION JPN

Alisa AGAFONOVA / Alper UCAR TUR

Alexandra STEPANOVA / Ivan BUKIN
RUS

TBD RUS

Elena ILINYKH / Ruslan ZHIGANSHIN RUS

Victoria SINITSINA / Nikita KATSALAPOV RUS

Kana MURAMOTO / Chris REED JPN

Madison HUBBELL / Zachary DONOHUE USA

Federica TESTA / Lukas CSOLLEY SVK

Alisa AGAFONOVA / Alper UCAR TUR

Federica TESTA / Lukas CSOLLEY SVK

Alexandra STEPANOVA / Ivan BUKIN
RUS

Natalia KALISZEK / Maksim SPODIREV POL

Maia SHIBUTANI / Alex SHIBUTANI
USA

Madison CHOCK / Evan BATES USA

Madison CHOCK / Evan BATES USA

Alexandra NAZAROVA / Maxim NIKITIN UKR

Anastasia CANNUSCIO / Colin MCMANUS USA

Victoria SINITSINA / Nikita KATSALAPOV RUS

TBD USA

Kaitlin HAWAYEK / Jean-Luc BAKER USA

Elliana POGREBINSKY / Alex BENOIT
USA

Madison HUBBELL / Zachary DONOHUE USA

Maia SHIBUTANI / Alex SHIBUTANI USA

Kaitlin HAWAYEK / Jean-Luc BAKER USA

10

10

10

10

10

10

Skate America

Chicago, IL October 21-23, 2016

Skate Canada Int.

Mississauga, ON October 28-30, 2016

Rostelecom Cup

Moscow November 4-6, 2016

TropheŐĀe de France

Paris November 11-13, 2016

Audi Cup of China

Beijing November 18-20, 2016

NHK Trophy

Sapporo November 25-27, 2016

Gabrielle DALEMAN CAN

Alaine CHARTRAND CAN

Zijun LI CHN

Gabrielle DALEMAN CAN

Kaetlyn OSMOND CAN

Alaine CHARTRAND CAN

Roberta RODEGHIERO ITA

Kaetlyn OSMOND CAN

Roberta RODEGHIERO ITA

Laurine LECAVELIER FRA

Zijun LI CHN

Wakaba HIGUCHI JPN

Mao ASADA JPN

TBD CAN

Yura MATSUDA JPN

Mae Berenice MEITE FRA

Ziquan ZHAO CHN

Yura MATSUDA JPN

Mai MIHARA JPN

Rika HONGO JPN

Kanako MURAKAMI JPN

Mao ASADA JPN

TBD CHN

Satoko MIYAHARA JPN

Kanako MURAKAMI JPN

Satoko MIYAHARA JPN

Elizabet TURSYNBAEVA KAZ

Wakaba HIGUCHI JPN

Rika HONGO JPN

Elizabet TURSYNBAEVA KAZ

Angelina KUCHVALSKA LAT

Yuka NAGAI JPN

Angelina KUCHVALSKA LAT

Yuka NAGAI JPN

Mai MIHARA JPN

Alena LEONOVA RUS

So Youn PARK KOR

Da Bin CHOI KOR

Julia LIPNITSKAIA RUS

So Youn PARK KOR

Elena RADIONOVA RUS

Anna POGORILAYA RUS

Julia LIPNITSKAIA RUS

Maria ARTEMIEVA RUS

Anna POGORILAYA RUS

Alena LEONOVA RUS

Elizaveta TUKTAMYSHEVA RUS

Maria SOTSKOVA RUS

Serafima SAKHANOVICH RUS

Evgenia MEDVEDEVA RUS

Elena RADIONOVA RUS

Evgenia MEDVEDEVA RUS

Joshi HELGESSON SWE

Nicole RAJICOVA SVK

Gracie GOLD USA

Elizaveta TUKTAMYSHEVA RUS

Nicole RAJICOVA SVK

Maria SOTSKOVA RUS

Karen CHEN USA

Karen CHEN USA

Ashley WAGNER USA

Joshi HELGESSON SWE

Polina EDMUNDS USA

Gracie GOLD USA

Courtney HICKS USA

Polina EDMUNDS USA

TBD USA

Mirai NAGASU USA

Courtney HICKS USA

Tyler PIERCE USA

Ashley WAGNER USA

Mirai NAGASU USA

12

12

12

12

12

12

Skate America 

 

LADIES

What I’m Excited About: firstly, Mao Asada! Super excited that one of her events will be in my time zone (not actually mine, but you get the point) so I will get to watch her live. I’m so glad that Serafima Sakhanovich got a GP after a dismal last season. Oh, and Yulia! And also Mai Mihara-I didn’t even know she was going senior, let alone getting two GPs, but I love watching the debuting seniors so I’m happy about it. In dance, I’m excited that the Shibutanis got SA because, well, Shibs. And I’m thrilled that one of my latest ‘discoveries,’ Tobias/Tkachenko, got this spot-I didn’t know if they would even get two spots, let alone this one! Oh, and Ilinykh/Zhiganshin! ūüôā In pairs, I’m really excited to see Seguin/Bilodeau back at Skate America-they had one of my favorite performances at last year’s event. And I love watching Aaron/Settlage. In men: Shoma’s back, which means my favorite skaters in each discipline (Shibs, Gracie, Shoma, Sui/Han) are going to be at Skate America…*drools*

What I’m Not Excited About: I feel like the Gracie-Vs.-Ashley dynamic in this event is going to mess with both of their heads and potentially knock one or both out of GPF contention. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be really interesting, but if the media milks it like they’ve milked the Ashley/Gracie “rivalry” at every recent Nationals, it could be really bad for both of them. Not a good move, USFSA. In pairs: what the heck are Sui/Han doing on this list?!? I love them to pieces, but Sui recently (last month) had ankle surgery that was supposed to have a four-month recovery period. That is barely the amount of time between the surgery and SA, and even though they reportedly already had programs, I feel like they will either show up super unprepared and bomb or show up still injured and make the injury worse. I seriously hope neither of these things is true, but it seems highly unlikely that something bad won’t happen. The Chinese Federation’s exploits continue…*hides in a corner*

TBA Spot Predictions: Ladies-Tyler Pierce; Men’s-Richard Dornbush; Pairs-Denney/Frazier; Dance-Cannuscio/McManus

Skate Canada 

What I’m Excited About: For starters, Evgenia vs. Elizaveta. Somebody get me some popcorn, because that’s gonna be a good one. (Provided Elizaveta is in better form than last season, which I think she will be-no source there, just gut feeling.) And we get to see Rika’s new programs, which look great in the clips I’ve seen. Alaine has another chance to not bomb and hopefully have programs as great as last year’s. In dance, the much-anticipated return of Virtue/Moir should be exciting, and I’m excited to see how Cappellini/Lanotte-who grew on me drastically last season-will do. And I cannot wait to see Hawayek/Baker, who perenially have some of the best FDs in the business. In pairs, I’m really excited to see Denney/Frazier back in competition. For the men, Daniel Samohin is making his senior debut and it’ll be interesting to see how he stacks up. Also, Grant Hochstein (does anyone not love Grant after that FS at Worlds?!?).

What I’m Not Excited About: There is a 90% chance one or both Canadian ladies currently in this event will headcase dramatically. And it’s really, really sad to see “Yu/Zhang” in print on any official document. Whyyyyyyyyyy?!?!?! (I was not even invested in either of them! Why am I so upset? One of life’s many mysteries…)

TBA Spot Predictions: Ladies-Veronik Mallet (is she ever not the SC host pick?); Men-Kevin Reynolds; Pairs-um, I don’t even know any Canadian pairs who aren’t on this list…hehe.

Rostelecom Cup 

What I’m Excited About: on the ladies side, this one’s got a lot of my favorites-Zijun, Nicole, Elizabet, Elena-and it’s always exciting/painful to see which Anna will show up (Scaryfalls McHeadcase or “This is Why I’m A World Medalist, Suckers!”). In dance, it will be interesting to see if Weaver/Poje will redeem their disappointing Worlds, and GP deubts-this time, Porgebinsky/Benoit’s-are just about my favorite thing ever. Pairs has Seguin/Bilodeau and also Astakhova/Rogonov, who-totally off topic-need to get some kind of award for coming up with the idea of making their free skate a sequel to their last one (I mean, I didn’t love their last FS, but how cool is that?!?). Stolbova/Klimov never fail to bring the drama and excitement-they’re wildly unpredictable, but never boring. In men’s-Deniss Vasiljevs’ senior debut.

What I’m Not Excited About: there’s not much about this one that I don’t like. ūüôā

TBA Spot Predictions: men’s-no idea.

Trophee De France 

What I’m Excited About: GRACIE AND MAO AND WAKABA AND MARIA AND TYLER AHFIOWHFIOHFIORHOIRHIOWRHGOIHGIOHRGQEHGOHGIOQHGIOQHGIOHQIOGHQOG  THIS IS GOING TO BE SUCH A FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC LADIES EVENT OMG…

…I promise I’ve calmed down. I am just really excited about that ladies list.

In other disciplines, because they exist too: more of Tobias/Tkachenko and Ilinykh/Zhiganshin in dance, and also, the debut of #TeamSuspiciousBio! (I seriously got a kick out of debating the validity of the famous line in their bio-if you don’t remember, see if you can find it here-during Junior Worlds and it is literally all I can think about whenever I watch/read about them, but it’s made me like them more, so I guess it was a good thing?) Whew, sorry for the extreme run-on sentence. Nathan Chen is making his GP debut and if he doesn’t break himself again, I am excited to see how he factors in at the senior level.

What I’m Not Excited About: annoying people online with my constant blathering about Lauriault/Le Gac’s biography. :p JK, I never don’t enjoy bringing that up in totally irrelevant conversations. Whee! *frolics maniacally*

TBD Spot Predictions:  there are none…

Cup of China 

What I’m Excited About: Elena, Karen, Rika, and Zijun, in that order. Also, the GP debut of Vartmann/Blommaert, who I really liked at Nebelhorn last year. And the Shibs, because every situation is improved by  a touch of Shibness. (I don’t care that that’s not a thing.  I am going to make that a thing.) I have a bit of a (huge) soft spot for Cannuscio/McManus, so I’m excited about that, too.

(Also, in a very twisted way, I kind of am looking forward to Yu/Zheng vs. Peng/Jin. I know. I will go sit in a corner and think about what I’ve done.)

What I’m Not Excited About: …?

TBD SPOT PREDICTIONS: I know nothing about Chinese singles outside of Zijun Li, Boyang Jin and Han Yan, and even less about Chinese ice dancers, so…pass.

NHK Trophy 

What I’m Excited About: another Wakaba/Maria matchup! Why am I suddenly so excited about these two? I mean, I always liked both of them, but why am I going berserk over them getting the same GPs? Egh, obsessions are complicated. Hawayek/Baker and Virtue/Moir make nice highlights for the dance event. Wang/Wang are a lovely pair and don’t seem to get out of China all that often, so I’m excited to see them skate. And open TBA pair spot + no more Japanese pairs = maybe a spot for someone on the sub list that I like?

What I’m Not Excited About: nothing, really.

TBA Spot Predictions: pass.

 

Thoughts? I’m personally very happy with nearly everything on these lists. 

 

Grand Prix Assignment Speculation, Pt. 1: Ladies

The release of the Grand Prix assignments is just over a month out, and due to the irritating lack of live results pages (the one thing the ISU always gets right) for RG events, I have no sports to follow. And what do we do when we have no sports to follow?

Speculate!

I have decided which ladies skaters I want to/think will be assigned to each GP and I am going to post it to relieve my boredom facilitate discussion. Or something? Well, here goes.

SKATE AMERICA 

Since Skate America and Skate Canada are the only events that are never at obscene hours of the morning/night in my time zone, I have a lot of opinions on who I want to see at them. Skate America should, in my mind, kick off the season with these skaters:

  1. Medal seed: Ashley Wagner US
  2. 4-6 seed: Elena Radionova USA
  3. Mao Asada
  4. Wakaba Higuchi
  5. Maria Sotskova
  6. Tyler Pierce
  7. Nicole Rajicova
  8. Da Bin Choi
  9. Zijun Li
  10. Alaine Chartrand
  11. Roberta Rodeghiero
  12. Host pick: Bradie Tennell

MY REASONING: the US finally has a medal seed in ladies, so Ashley seems like the obvious choice. Since I doubt they’d put Ashley and Gracie in the same event and Satoko went to Skate America last year, I chose Elena for the 4-6 seed. I chose some unseeded personal favorites-Mao, Zijun, Tyler, Maria, Wakaba, Alaine, Nicole-to make it interesting, and since SA always has some new seniors, it seems like a good Grand Prix debut for Wakaba and Maria. I chose¬†Bradie¬†as the host pick because she did very well at Nationals, and I’m pretty sure she’s going senior. The rest are…kind of just there.

SKATE CANADA 

Skate Canada is one of the more unpredictable events for ladies, IMO, so I am just going with my gut here.

  1. Medal seed: Anna Pogorilaya
  2. 4-6 seed: Gracie Gold
  3. Kaetlyn Osmond
  4. Gabrielle Daleman
  5. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
  6. Adelina Sotnikova
  7. Da Bin Choi
  8. Mirai Nagasu
  9. Rika Hongo
  10. Yuka Nagai
  11. Mae Berenice Miete
  12. Host pick: Veronik Mallet

MY REASONING: Evgenia, medal seed #1, is definitely getting Rostelecom, and I doubt they’d give Ashley back-to-back assignments, so that left Anna-which I though was kind of cool anyway because she won this event in 2014. Of the 4-6 seeds (I’m going to call them “potato seeds”), Gracie will probably get SC because the 2nd-ranked American at worlds usually does. Gabrielle Daleman has cemented herself as the #1 Canadian lady and will almost assuredly get a spot here, as will Kaetlyn Osmond. I threw in two unpredictable but potentially-competitive¬†Russians-Elizaveta and Adelina-for interest, and rounded out the medal contenders¬†at this event with Rika Hongo. I feel like the US might want to send Mirai here, so in she went. Veronik is literally always¬†the SC host pick and I don’t think that will change. Again, the rest are just there.

CUP OF CHINA 

Cup of China is, traditionally, the GP that nobody wants, but last year it turned out to be one of the best events of the series. Since China has few ladies skaters, this could be kind of tricky, but I think I have an idea of who’ll go here.

  1. Medal seed: Ashley Wagner
  2. Potato seed: Satoko Miyahara
  3. Zijun Li
  4. Ziquan Zhao
  5. Elizabet Tursynbaeva
  6. Maria Sotskova
  7. Maria Artemieva
  8. So Youn Park
  9. Polina Edmunds
  10. Courtney Hicks
  11. Miyu Nakashio
  12. Host pick: Xiangning Li

MY REASONING: sending Ashley to this event was the only way to avoid having one medal seed do back-to-back events, which is exhausting and usually leads to meltdowns. Satoko will definitely get NHK, so I chose COC for her other event so she wouldn’t have back-to-back events. Zijun and Ziquan are extremely obvious choices and Xiangning Li (who I have never heard of) was the only other Chinese lady who even had a Wikipedia page, so I picked her for the host pick. Maria and Alena are here because almost nobody sends their top skaters to COC (sad but true)-same with Courtney and Polina (okay, maybe not so much Polina) and Miyu. Elizabet and So Youn, two of my favorite small-fedders, are in it for interest.

GRAND PRIX DE PARIS (Or whatever they changed the name of the one in France to) 

Two things: one, I don’t actually know the order of the events this year, so I’m just going by last year’s order. Two, I have no idea if I got the name right, only that it used to be Trophee Bompard and that it is now Grand Prix De Something. Hopefully I can be more accurate with my predictions than I was with my fact-checking…

  1. Medal seed: Evgenia Medvedeva
  2. Potato seed: Gracie Gold
  3. Mae Berenice Miete
  4. Laurine Lecavelier
  5. Adelina Sotnikova
  6. Rika Hongo
  7. Kanako Murakami
  8. Elizabet Tursynbaeva
  9. Nicole Rajicova
  10. Gabrielle Daleman
  11. Alaine Chartrand
  12. Host pick: Alizee Crozet

MY REASONING: to avoid back-to-back spots, Evgenia had to get this event. Gracie won it last year, so I sent her here for luck ;). Mae Berenice and Laurine¬†are both 98% guaranteed to get this event. I don’t know if Adelina is going to do two GPs, but if she is, I can see her doing this one. I had Japan and Canada sending some of their top skaters to this as well. Alizee Crozet was apparently the 2016 French bronze medalist (thank you, Wikipedia), and I’d never heard of any other French ladies skaters, so in she went. Several of the other skaters are on

ROSTELECOM/CUP OF RUSSIA 

  1. Medal seed: Evgenia Medvedeva
  2. Potato seed: Elena Radionova
  3. Polina Edmunds
  4. Hannah Miller
  5. Kaetlyn Osmond
  6. Elizabet Tursynbaeva
  7. Angelina Kuchvalska
  8. So Youn Park
  9. Viveca Lindfors
  10. Ivett Toth
  11. Kailani Craine
  12. Host pick: Yulia Lipnitskaya

MY REASONING: Evgenia and Elena were fairly obvious choices, and I really want to see Yulia at Rostelecom. The rest are not particularly competitive, but I wanted at least one event where a bunch of lower-ranked skaters would get a chance to compete and this was it.

NHK TROPHY 

  1. Medal seed: Evgenia Medvedeva
  2. Potato Seed: Satoko Miyahara
  3. Mao Asada
  4. Yulia Lipnitskaya
  5. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
  6. Serafima Sakhanovich
  7. Mirai Nagasu
  8. Tyler Pierce
  9. Amy Lin
  10. Nathalie Weinzierl
  11. Angelina Kuchvalska
  12. Host pick: Wakaba Higuchi

MY REASONING: Satoko for the seed, Mao for the non-seed, pretty obvious. Wakaba for the host pick, fairly likely. I really want Yulia to get NHK and for Tyler to get anything other than an SA host pick. Many of these skaters are kind of only on here because their SB and the amount of age-ineligible juniors on the SB list got them a guaranteed GP. So…hopefully this was less of a failure than I think it might be.

 

 

Well, that’s a wrap. That was fun and I might do these kinds of posts for other disciplines.

Team Challenge Cup: Random Musings

So, the season is almost over, and with most of the skaternet focused on next season-program announcements, Grand Prix speculation, predicting who will be at the top-it is clear that most fans have moved on. But before we can officially call the season done (and I can start churning out post after post of 2015-16 “bests” lists :p), there’s one event left: the inaugural Team Challenge Cup.

Which is a bit of a mess.

It started out as a cool concept that had a lot of potential. In January, a preliminary list of skaters-selected by world rankings-was released. There were a lot of great skaters on it, and the fans started getting excited for the fan voting phase that would finish off the teams.

But then came the fan voting, which was a mess. It got temporarily disabled because fans were allegedly using bot software (*tries to sound like I know what I’m talking about*) to assure their favorite skaters got to skate at the¬†event, and accusations flew back and forth across the internet. Many fans were convinced that Korean fans were using bots to get Angelina Kuchvalska into the event¬†for the sole purpose of keeping the two Russian ladies in the poll out. (I did not necessarily¬†believe this, but some fans were utterly¬†convinced¬†and would not stop accusing them of doing so.)

And, to add insult to injury, IceNetwork decided to charge an additional fee-separate from their season pass-to watch the event. Multiple skaters withdrew. It was kind of caving in. The event hasn’t even happened yet, and I’ve seen people say it shouldn’t be repeated.

Nevertheless, it’s one last event before the off-season, and I am still excited about it-even if I will probably not buy the IceNetwork pass and will probably not be able to see it as a result (unless the same people who smuggled the NBC stream of the ladies FS at Nationals put up a stream of this one). So, here are some random thoughts about that.

  1. I hope Gracie Gold will be able to pull it together and end her season on a positive note at this event. (She gave an interview where she said she was ashamed of her Worlds performances-um, please don’t say that, you got a freakin’ personal best in the SP!-so it would probably do a lot for her confidence heading into next season if she skated well here.)
  2. I wonder if anyone will replace Papadakis/Cizeron. The event starts in four days-is that even long enough to fly in an alternate?
  3. Speaking of redemption, Denis Ten and Shoma Uno also had very disappointing Worlds showings and I hope they will be able to skate well, too.
  4. I am curious to see how Boyang Jin will do coming off of his 3rd-place performance at Worlds. Now that he is the obvious favorite to win the individual competition, will he be feeling the pressure?
  5. What the heck is going to happen with Stolbova/Klimov? (Always of interest, since they are so often not at things.)
  6. Will Weaver/Poje improve on their Worlds showings? Are they really just mid-season peakers, or is Worlds itself the problem?
  7. Will this event go off without a hitch, or will it fall to pieces like the fan vote and never be held again?

Well, there you have it. Short, random, and slightly incoherent, but I wanted to write something and it felt wrong to write a reflection on the season when it wasn’t entirely over yet. ¬†I said it would be random,¬†after all. ūüėČ

Also, my favorite junior lady, Vivian Le, is doing a club competition called Skate Dallas next week, so if anyone who is reading this is going to be there, PLEASE comment and tell me how Vivian (and also Emily Chan, and anyone else notable-at any level-who is going to be there) does, and if she has new programs, what they are. I know it’s a long-shot, but I would very much appreciate it. ūüôā

Nationals, a Love Story (Pt 4)

IT’S ALMOST TIME!

With the hours until the most wonderful time of the year ticking down, it’s time to end this blog series (which has actually been one of my best decisions of 2016! Yay) with a bang: the new, improved, nine-piece¬†chicken nugget combo meal¬†US Figure Skating Championships Preview Series Senior Ladies Analysis! Woot woot!

I have discovered that writing a long-winded paragraph about why I think each skater will place where I put them is far more fun that a report card, so I shall do that (it’s also faster, which is imperative because I have things to do and this can’t take three hours to write). And so it begins/ends!

 

1. Gracie Gold 

 

Gracie-Gold--Sochi-2014-Figure-Skating----14.jpg

Age: 20

Skating Club: Wagon Wheel FSC

Accomplishments: 2014 US Champion, 2014 Olympic Team Member (4th), two-time GP gold medalist, 2012 Junior World Silver Medalist

Why I placed her here: Now that she’s uninjured and not trying to defend a title, Gracie is in peak shape. Aside from the GPF, she’s had a good season so far, and in every even-numbered year since 2012, Gracie has taken a ¬†US title (junior in 2012 and senior in 2014). Okay, that’s a lame reason, but if she is clean or near-clean, she’s unbeatable. She finally has programs that fit her, so that gives her an additional PCS boost. However, if she isn’t clean, Ashley will likely win. It all comes down to putting two clean programs together, which she has only ever done at-wait for it-Nationals.

Also, I am completely biased because I love her and at this point, it’s so unsure that everyone is just picking whichever lady they like better to win. I’m going with Gracie.

 

2. Ashley Wagner 

Unknown.jpeg

Age: 24

Skating Club: SC of Wilmington

Accomplishments: three-time US Champion, 2014 Olympic Team Member (7th), 2012 4CC Champion, two-time World Junior Bronze Medalist, four-time GP gold medalist, three-time GPF medalist (silver-2012, bronze-2013 and 2014)

Why I placed her here: A lot of people are expecting Ashley to win her fourth US title, but I’m not so sure. With the exception of NHK, she’s had a stellar season so far, but from past experience, I’m pretty sure the one thing that gets to her like nothing else is having to defend a National title when she’s the favorite. (See 2014.) Yes, she could win, ¬†but she would have to skate clean. Like, really clean. I’m not sure if she will, but Gracie isn’t exactly a model of consistency either, so it could go either way.

 

3. Courtney Hicks 

images-1.jpeg

Age: 20

Skating Club:

Accomplishments: 2015 NHK Trophy Silver Medalist

Why I placed her here: Courtney has had a very strong season, winning a silver medal at NHK Trophy over not only Ashley but Mao Asada(!). She’s technically excellent, and her programs this year are pretty decent. If she lands all the stuff, she will definitely make the world team. When Courtney is on, she’s electrifying to watch.

4. Polina Edmunds

images.jpeg

Age: 17

Skating Club: Peninsula SC (not to be confused with Peninsula FSC)

Accomplishments: 2014 US Silver Medalist, 2014 Olympic Team Member (9th), 2015 4CC Champion, two-time JGP gold medalist

Why I placed her here: Polina seems like the obvious third-place pick after solid skates at Rostelecom Cup, but her underrotation issues seem to be getting worse and she’s had a few incidences of sit spins being invalidated (Now there’s a problem you never hear about…). She has more potential than most of these ladies and she’s fixed her flip edge, but despite that, I don’t think she’ll get on the team. Underrotations are deadly, and hers are not improving.

5. Karen Chen 

Unknown-1.jpeg

Age: 16

Skating Club: Peninsula FSC

Accomplishments: 2015 US Bronze Medalist, 4-time JGP Medalist

Why I placed her here: Karen is a truly special skater and I love her to bits, but she has yet to live up to her Nationals FS last year. (Her SA SP was very good, though.) She has all the goods…except consistency, as usual. And she tends to underrotate and pop jumps. I really hope she proves me wrong, but I just can’t be sure. (She would be my personal pick for the third Worlds spot.)

6. Mirai Nagasu 

images-2.jpeg

Age: 22

Skating Club: Pasadena FSC

Accomplishments: 2008 US Champion, 2010 Olympic Team Member (4th), four-time GP medalist, two-time junior world medalist

Why I placed her here: Mirai is absolutely capable of at least a bronze, but her trademark inconsistency and tendency to underrotate jumps have kept her off the podium several times. She is probably the most traditionally “artistic” of the US Ladies and her technical content is up to par with the rest of the field, but she hasn’t executed it cleanly in a very long time. However, her great performances at NHK give me hope that she will finally step up. Placing her this low was a precautionary step because she could revert to her old ways, but I have a good feeling about this.

7. Mariah Bell 

Unknown-2.jpeg

Age: 19

Skating Club: Rocky Mountain FSC

Accomplishments: 2013 US junior silver medalist, JGP medalist

Why I placed her here: Mariah showed that she can compete with the best with a 6th-place showing last year, but she has had a very rocky season so far. Two dismal Challenger Series showings left me worried, but she came back with a decent GP debut at Skate America (8th). Mariah is a lovely skater and person (I’ve met her and she is very gracious and friendly, so I’m kind of partial towards her), so I hope she does better than this, but she has not been very consistent.

8. Tyler Pierce 

Tyler_Pierce_CS.jpg

Age: 17

Skating Club: All Year FSC

Accomplishments: 2013 US Novice Champion, 2014 US Junior Silver Medalist, two-time Challenger Series medalist

Why I placed her here: Tyler looked very strong on the Challenger Series, with two bronze medals and solid scores (60+ SPs and 105+ FSes), but her recurring inconsistency could return. Until we know what form she is in, this is the highest I’m comfortable placing her.

9. Angela Wang 

Unknown-3.jpeg

Age: 19

Skating Club: Salt Lake City FSC

Accomplishments: three-time JGP Medalist

Why I placed her here: Angela has shown vastly-improved consistency this season, and she can be technically excellent when she is on. However, I wouldn’t put her in the top 10 yet, considering her low Nationals placement last year (15th).

So, this is the end! I hope you enjoyed this series as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I hope to do something like this in the near future. Au revoir, until the events start! 

 

Nationals, A love story (Part 2)

Heeeey!

So, today was the scheduled day for the junior ice dance preview. But then I found out I was going out of town at the last minute. I have two or so hours before I have to leave, so I hope to actually get this done on time!

Since I am not exactly an ice dance technical expert (I could tell you what a turn is called or how to identify good twizzles, or if I like the costumes :p, but that’s about it), this is going to be structured differently than my ladies recaps. Instead of a report card, I’m just going to be explaining why I think they’re good (going by past results) and how much I like them…hopefully more of the latter…ish. So, no sciency report cards today. Again, this is in order of how I expect these teams to place.

1. Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter

487017730.jpg

To get started, here is a lovely photo in which Quinn’s face is entirely obstructed by  ginormous Getty Images logo! Yaaaay!

Ages: 16/19

Club represented: Peninsula SC/Washington FSC

Accomplishments: 2015 JGP Final Champions, 2015 World Junior Silver Medalists, 2015 US Junior Champions, 2013 JGP Final bronze Medalists, six-time JGP medalists, multiple other US medals I’m too lazy to list

Why I placed them here: first off, look at that accomplishments list. Just look at it. That is an explanation in itself. No other junior team right now has won that much stuff. Also, I love their style. In a sea of cookie-cutter teams who virtually all seem the same (not only are a lot of their programs fairly similar, approximately 94% of the girls wear mint green dresses…), they’re bringing something different. Because the first thing that comes to mind in a waltz season is mountain trolls. ūüôā They have a delightfully wacky style best described as a subtler version of Gilles & Poirier. Their programs this season are also strikingly different, which says good things about their versatility. They’re an incredibly refreshing pair with very high scoring potential, and I can’t see any way they won’t win Nationals.

2. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons 

 

images.jpeg

Ages: 18/20

Club represented: Washington FSC/Washington FSC

Accomplishments: 2015 JGP Final Bronze Medalists, 7-time JGP Medalists

Why I placed them here: The Parsons, along with Mcnamara & Carpenter, totally dominated the JGP (up until the final, when a Russian pair snuck in and got the silver), and I thought it would be an incredibly close race between those two teams at Nationals. However, the Parsons had a disappointing showing at the JGP Final and now I’m not so sure. However, they are siblings doing a tango FD (yes, you read that right) and it doesn’t make me feel the need to fling my computer out the window, which is an accomplishment in itself. If they skated well, they could beat any team in the field except possibly McNamara & Carpenter, and they’re a lock for silver at this event.

Superficial comment: I kinda want Rachel’s short dance dress. ūüôā

3. Christina Carriera/Anthony Ponomarenko 

490145240.jpg

Ages: 15/14

Skating Club:  SC of New York/San Francisco SC 

Accomplishments: 2015 JGP Poland Silver Medalists, second alternates for the 2015 JGP Final 

Why I placed them here: In terms of results, Carriera/Ponomarekno were the obvious choice for third. But they’re also a personal favorite team. I love their commitment to character in their programs. In terms of charm factor, Carriera/Ponomarenko definitely win this event. They always look like they’re enjoying themselves, and that’s a quality I love in a skater/team. And after okay but not great results last season, they’re breaking into the top three. They’ve become the best of the rest (aka anyone who is not M/C or the Parsons) and I don’t really see anyone else taking the third spot at junior worlds.

4. Elliana Pogrebinsky/Alex Benoit 

  

Ages: 17/20

Skating club: Peninsula SC/Skokie Valley SC 

Accomplishments: Bronze Medalists at a JGP event I forgot the name of, US Junior Bronze Medalists

Why I placed them here: 

So, I had to leave and I’m writing this on my phone. I’ll keep it short: they were the only other JGP medalists I hadn’t already mentioned. ūüôā

5. Chloe Rose Lewis/Logan Bye

  

Ages: 15/17

Skating club: All Year FSC/SC of New York

Accomplishments: 2013 US Novice Champions 

Why I placed them here: I hadn’t watched them in a long time, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I put them here on the grounds of their respectable JGP showings this year, but when I watched videos of their programs this season, I was really impressed with their maturity. Few junior teams could successfully take on “Valse Triste,” but they have. They haven’t had much international experience, but their personal best scores are pretty good and I like the programs. So I think they will be able to crack the top five here. 

Honorable mention: Eliana Gropman & Ian Sommerville, who are ridiculously presh even if they probably won’t place here. ūüôā Also, there are a lot of Elianas in US ice dancing…LOL!

I know it was a little late, so I’m sorry about that. I severely overestimated my ability to write in a moving car, so…I finished it as soon as I could. Hope you enjoyed it!

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! ūüôā

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

Unknown

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

Unknown-1

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

0374fec291d0360d

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 ūüôā

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 

Amber+Glenn+Prudential+Figure+Skating+Championships+GEnNi3Pk_gvl

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

images

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

Unknown-2 6.20.33 PM

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!