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!

Grand Prix Assignment Speculation, Pt. 2: Ice Dance

The GP ladies speculation post was originally going to be a stand-alone, but I enjoyed writing it so much that it’s back. (This one’s for ice dance.) To see how it works, read this:¬†https://salchowsandswarovskis.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/grand-prix-assignment-speculation-pt-1-ladies/

SKATE AMERICA 

  1. Medal seed: Shibutani/Shibutani, USA
  2. “Potato” (4-6) seed: Hubbell/Donohue, USA
  3. Ilinykh/Zhiganshin, RUS
  4. Tobias/Tkachenko, ISR
  5. Paul/Islam, CAN
  6. Gilles/Poirier, CAN
  7. Fournier-Beaudry/Sorensen, DEN
  8. Host pick: McNamara/Carpenter, USA

MY REASONING: the US has two medal seeds in dance and could go with either of them, but I think the Shibs will get this spot because they were the higher-placed team and won Nationals. Since the US also has a “Potato” seed (Hubbell/Donohue), I see no reason they wouldn’t send them. If McNamara/Carpenter move up, they’re practically guaranteed the host pick spot. And the rest are kind of just random guesses or people I really want¬†to see.

SKATE CANADA 

  1. Medal seed: Papadakis/Cizeron, FRA
  2. Potato seed: Weaver/Poje, CAN
  3. Virtue/Moir, CAN
  4. Stepanova/Bukin, RUS
  5. Sinitsina/Katsalapov, RUS
  6. Coomes/Buckland, GBR
  7. Hawayek/Baker, USA
  8. Host pick: Edwards/Pang, CAN

MY REASONING: since Canada doesn’t have a medal seed, there was no obvious team to fill this slot. I went with Papadakis/Cizeron for no particular reason. Weaver/Poje are practically guaranteed the potato seed spot, and if Virtue/Moir do any Grand Prix events, this will probably be it. Most of the others were picked¬†to fill top-12-at-Worlds/SB-mandated spots. If Edwards/Pang are back to competition by October, there is a reasonable chance they’ll get the host spot (that is, if the rumors about Paradis/Ouellette’s split are true).

CUP OF CHINA 

  1. Medal seed: Chock/Bates, USA
  2. Potato seed: Cappellini/Lanotte, ITA
  3. Guinard/Fabbri, ITA
  4. Sinitsina/Katsalapov, RUS
  5. Agafonova/Ucar, TUR
  6. Gilles/Poirier, CAN
  7. Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS
  8. Host pick: Wang/Liu, CHN

MY REASONING: since China has virtually no dance teams, all I gave them for their own teams was a host pick. to avoid back-to-back assignments, both Chock/Bates and Cappellini/Lanotte had to get this assignment (like last year). The rest were random fill-ins from the SB list.

ROSTELECOM/CUP OF RUSSIA

  1. Medal seed: Shibutani/Shibutani, USA
  2. Potato seed: Weaver/Poje, CAN
  3. Ilinykh/Zhiganshin, RUS
  4. Stepanova/Bukin, RUS
  5. Tobias/Tkachenko, ISR
  6. Coomes/Buckland, GBR
  7. McNamara/Carpenter, USA
  8. Host pick: Loboda/Drozd, RUS

MY REASONING: again, to avoid back-to-back spots, the Shibs had to get Rostelecom. It was between Weaver/Poje and Hubbell/Donohue for the potato seed and I went with Weaver/Poje. Russia gets Stepanova/Bukin, who needed two spots due to Worlds placements, and Ilinykh/Zhiganshin, plus Loboda/Drozd for their host pick because they aged out of juniors (I think) and are probably getting spots as JW medalists.

GRAND PRIX DE PARIS 

  1. Medal seed: Papadakis/Cizeron, FRA
  2. Potato seed: Hubbell/Donohue, USA
  3.  Lauriault/Le Gac, FRA
  4. Sinitsina/Katsalapov, RUS
  5. Guinard/Fabbri, ITA
  6. Cannuscio/McManus, USA
  7. Muramoto/Reed, JPN
  8. Host pick: Alessandrini/Souquet, FRA

MY REASONING: Medal seed: um…duh. Potato seed: felt like it. Lauriault/Le Gac aged out of juniors and are 97% guaranteed a spot at TEB, Alessandrini/Souquet are the only other French team I know of, and the rest needed their guaranteed spots somewhere.

NHK TROPHY 

  1. Medal seed: Chock/Bates, USA
  2. Potato seed: Cappellini/Lanotte, ITA
  3. Muramoto/Reed, JPN
  4. Loboda/Drozd, RUS
  5. Bobrova/Soloviev, RUS
  6. Kim/Minov, KOR
  7. Cannuscio/McManus, USA
  8. Host pick: Emi Hirai/Marien De La Asuncion, JPN

MY REASONING:

Seeds: only ones left.

Host-country teams: self explanatory.

The rest: needed spots.

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.