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Three Gold Medals for Canada at the Third Junior Grand Prix in Ostrava

 by Klaus-Reinhold Kany






(8 September 2014)  The third Junior Grand Prix took place in the CEZ arena in Ostrava, an industrial city in the eastern part of the Czech Republic near the Polish border. The Junior World Championships were organized in the same rinks in 2003 and the European championships will take place there in 2017. They have two rinks under one roof, therefore the ISU also organized a pairs competition. But only seven teams from four countries competed because many federations do not have junior pairs at all. Canada was the most successful country with three gold medals.

The victory of the ice dance team of Mackenzie Bent and Garrett MacKeen underlined the high level of ice dancing in Canada. Several of the best senior and junior teams train in one of the three great dancing schools in the Detroit area, but there are also high-level schools in Vancouver with coaches Meagan Wing and Aaron Lowe and in Scarborough near Toronto with Carol and Jon Lane plus Juris Razguliaevs. After two silver medals at the first two Junior Grand prix for the Vancouver school this time Bent (17) and MacKeen (20) from Scarborough won both sections of the competition with a total of 138.17 points. It is already their fourth season on the Junior Grand Prix circuit and the second victory for the couple who was 5th at Junior Worlds in 2013 and 12th in 2014 after some mistakes. This time, nobody had a Level 3 or Level 4 in the two compulsory samba parts of the short dance, so their two Level 2 were the best. In the free dance to the soundtrack of “Once Upon a Time” and “Zombie Fight” they got high levels and components with an average of 7.1. Bent commented: “We delivered what we’d been doing in training and that’s very pleasing. It wasn’t a perfect skate but we headed into this competition confident with both programs.”

Betina Popova and Yuri Vlasenko from the Moscow school of Ksenia Rumiantseva were second with 131.42 points although they were only fourth in the free dance. The also had good levels especially in the short dance and skated their free dance to “Thousand and one nights”. Last season they had been seventh at Junior Worlds. Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter from Rockville/Maryland won the bronze medal with 130.79 points. In both programs, one lift was a bit too long, otherwise they would have won silver. Their free dance music was the “Phantom of the Opera” and they excelled by high speed. Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko (he is the 13-year-old son of the 1992 Olympic champion Sergei and his wife Marina Klimova) have been skating together only for a few months and under Igor Shpilband. They ended up on fifth position after skating to the soundtrack of MicMac in the free dance. 

Another winner from Canada is Roman Sadovsky in the men’s event (192.08 points). The 15-year-old skater from Richmond Hill near Toronto had been 13th at Junior Worlds six months ago and very good at Skate Detroit in the summer. Coached by Tracy Wainman and Grzegorz Filipowski, he had a flawless short program in which he took the lead mainly because of his excellent spins and in spite of not trying a triple axel. In the long he made two mistakes, but his third place was enough to win overall. After winning a bronze medal two weeks earlier in Courchevel, 16-year-old Alexander Samarin from the Moscow school of Elena Buianova took a silver medal in Ostrava. He had been eighth at Junior Worlds and has to wait and see if this is enough for the Junior Final. He tried the triple axel in both programs, but under-rotated them.

Sei Kawahara (18) from Japan was third with 184.69 points in spite of falling on his triple axel in both programs. US skater Andrew Torgashev of Coral Springs in Florida, only 13 years old, fourth in novice nationals in January and son of Soviet pair skaters of the 80ies, ended up fourth with 182.57 points. He is one of the youngest boys the USA ever sent to a Junior Grand Prix. He is extremely talented and a big hope for the future especially because of his general skating skills, his excellent steps and his deep edges which remind of Patrick Chan’s style when the Canadian world champion was 13 or 14 years old.         

Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau from Canada won the pairs competition with a distance of almost 15 points and a total of 159.40 points, which is unusally high for a junior pair at such an early time of the season. They train in Chambly near Montreal under Josée Picard who had coached Brasseur/Eisler more than 20 years ago. Last season Seguin and Bilodeau had been fourth at their two Junior Grand Prix. The short program to music of the soundtrack of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was almost faultless with excellent levels. In the free program to music of Peter Gabriel they also showed first-class pair skating. Seguin also competes internationally in singles. “We knew we had improved a lot from last season”, Seguin said. “We want to skate like a senior pair team this year.” 

The three Russian pairs were second, third and fourth. The best of them were Lina Fedorova and Maxim Miroshkin (144.62 points) who were third at the Junior Final last year, but did not qualify for Junior Worlds. They train in Nina Mozer’s school, but mainly with Vladislav Zhovnirski. Their triple twist is excellent, but they had problems with two side-by-side jumps. Third are their teammates Kamilla Gainetdinova and Sergei Alexeev (134.43) who missed a lift in the free program. The better US team of Lindsay Weinstein (14) and Jacob Simon (17) of Buffalo Grove near Chicago were fifth (107.09). The second US team of Cirinia Gillett (14) and Maximiliano Fernandez (18) of Ellenton in Florida were sixth with 98.63 points after committing several mistakes. The two US teams were the only pairs to have no triple elements in their programs. Both were novice skaters last season.  

Two weeks after winning in France Evgenia Medvedeva from Russia was also first (171.12 points) in Ostrava and therefore is the first skater to qualify definitely for the Junior Final in Barcelona. She missed her combination in the short program and was only second there. Six of her triple jumps in the free program were at least good, the spins excellent, but she got an edge call for her triple Lutz and was second in the free program as well.

Winner of the free program and second overall (169.68) was Wakaba Higuchi (13) from Japan who performed only a double-double combination in the short program. But she had seven very good triple jumps (plus two double axels) in the long program. Karen Chen (15) of Riverside in California, student of Tammy Gambill and ninth at Junior Worlds 2014, had won the short program after an excellent performance with a layback spin which five of the nine judges awarded with a +3. But in the long program, four of her seven jumping elements were not executed correctly. Therefore she ended up third (160.95 points).