by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(3 March 2020) The ISU Junior World Championships 2020 takes place in Tallinn, capital of the small northeastern European state of Estonia (1.3 million people), which is very old but was part of the Soviet Union until 1991. One part of the population speaks Estonian which is a bit similar to the Finnish language, another part speaks Russian. Estonia is a member of NATO and the European Union, its currency is the Euro.
The 2020 Junior World Championships are held in Tallinn for the second time. Like in 2015 the competitions and the practice are organized in the Tondiraba Hall with four ice rinks under one roof which was built seven years ago. About 175 skaters from 43 countries will be participating. In order to be allowed to compete, all skaters needed some Technical Minimum Points in both of their programs which they could obtain at any other international Junior competition which is in the ISU calendar during this or the previous season. The medal winners in ladies and men will get a prize money of 10,000, 7,000 and 5,000 US-Dollars. In ice dance and pairs each couple with a medal will win 15,000, 10,000 and 7,000 US-Dollars.
Only 24 of the 48 ladies, which is 50 per cent, will reach the free program. Favorites in the competition are the three teenagers from Russia who had a medal sweep at the Junior Final about three months ago. Kamila Valieva, who won the Junior Final, and Daria Usacheva from Russia are the two favorites. Maia Khromykh was not in the Final but is as strong. However, these three have some strong rivals. One of them is Alysa Liu of California who has one advantage because unlike the three Russians she can land a quad jump (Lutz) as well as a triple Axel and not only either Axel or quad. But her components are a bit lower. Japan has also two medal hopes: Tomoe Kawabata and Mana Kawabe. Haein from South Korea is also very strong and won both of her Junior Grand Prix. The second South Korean skater Seoyeong and Ekaterina Kurakova, who is Russian but skates for Poland, have outsider chances for a medal. It would be a surprise if the two other U.S. skaters Starr Andrews and Lindsay Thorngren will finish on the podium.
In the Menís competition, almost ten of the 36 skaters are good enough to win a medal, therefore the competition is quite open. 24 will reach the free program. Shun Sato from Japan won the Junior Final in December and is one of them, the second Japanese Yuma Kagiyama, bronze medalist at the Four Continents Championships three weeks ago another one. Russia has two medal hopes: Andrei Mozalev was second at the Junior Final and Petr Gumennik fifth. The third Russian skater Ilya Yablokov is a bit weaker and will compete as alternate for Danill Samsonov who withdrew due to growth problems in his bones. Canada also has two medal hopes: Stephen Gogolev and Joseph Phan. Last but not least, Italyís Daniel Grassl will try to improve his bronze medal from Junior Worlds 2019. Andrew Torgashev might be the best of the three U.S. skaters, the other two are Ilia Malinin and Maxim Naumov.
In pair skating, 16 teams will compete which means that everybody will reach the Final. A medal sweep of the Russian pairs is probable because in this discipline Russia is dominant and even had five of the six pairs in the Junior Final. The best of them might be Apollinaria Panfilova & Dmitry Rylov who won the Junior Final. Third in Torino were Kseniia Akhanteva & Valerii Koselov who will also try to win a medal in Tallinn. Fourth were Iuliia Artemeva & Mikhail Nazarychev with only one point less than the third placed pair. Outsider chances for a medal have the U.S. team of Kate Kinster & Balazs Nagy of Colorado Springs. Annika Hocke & Robert Kunkel from Germany and Huidi Wang & Ziqi Jia from China.
Twenty-nine ice dance couples plan to compete, 20 of whom will get to the free dance. A U.S. team has a real chance to win a gold medal. Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik from the school of Igor Shpilband in Novi, Michigan and the Georgian team of Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya were second and first in the Junior Final with a difference of only .16 points. Other medal contenders are the three Russian couples. The best in the fall were Elizaveta Shanaeva & Devid Naryzhnyy. Anna Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov did not not compete in the fall because he had surgery, but they are fit again. Diana Davis & Gleb Smolkin, sixth in the Junior Final, also have outsider chances for a medal as well as the second U.S. team of Katarina Wolfkostin & Jefftrey Chen and Loicia Demougeot & Theo Le Mercier from France.