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Aichi, Japan Hosts Fourth Junior Grand Prix

 by Klaus-Reinhold Kany






(22 September 2014)  The fourth Junior Grand Prix of the 2014 season took place in Aichi near Nagoya in Japan. It was the only of the seven events which was held from a Friday to a Sunday and not from a Thursday to a Saturday. Skaters from Asia and Russia won most medals. Like in the first and second Junior Grand Prix, there was no pair skating competition, because only a few countries have any junior pairs at all. No Junior Grand Prix takes place this year in North America or Mexico. Mexico wants and gets one every three years, the USA also only every two or three years, mostly in Lake Placid. Canada has not had one for many years, because the federation says they can make no money with it and prefer to send its skaters mainly to Europe where 90 per cent of the Junior Grand Prix take place.

In the ladies competition there were skaters from no less than ten different countries in Asia which is a new record. They did not only come from Japan, China and South Korea as usual, but also from Kazakhstan, Hongkong, Singapur, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Mongolia. If you add the two boys who are from India and Indonesia, there are even skaters from 12 Asian countries at this Junior Grand Prix. Four others ladies competed for countries in the southern hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina) which had had rarely any skaters years ago (except Australia). Some of these girls, however, train in North America, not all of them in the country they compete for.

After having been first in the second Junior Grand Prix in Slovenia, Serafima Sakhanov from Moscow also won in Japan two weeks later and therefore can be sure to qualify for the Junior Final in December in Barcelona/Spain. This time the short program of the 14-year-old Russian was not perfect because she fell on the triple flip and therefore had no combination. But an excellent free program with seven triples and very good spins helped her to move up from second to first position and to win with a difference of 16 points. 15-year-old Yuka Nagai from Tokyo singled her Lutzes in both programs, but skated otherwise well and won silver. She had been second at her first Junior Grand Prix in Ljubljana as well and therefore will also qualify for the Junior Final. Elizabet Turzynbaeva (14) from Kazakhstan, who trains with Brian Orser in Toronto the second year and was eleventh at Junior Worlds half a year ago, had taken the lead after a flawless short program. But she missed two of her triple jumps in the free and dropped to third place overall. Da Bin Choi from South Korea had two almost faultless programs, but was only fourth because of her weaker presentation. US skater Bradie Tennell of Buffalo Grove near Chicago ended up eighth with 144.89 points, almost 15 points away from a medal. Her spins were excellent, but almost all of her triple jumps underrotated or not clean and she fell on a lutz.

Two weeks after winning in Ljubljana, Boyang Jin (16) from Harbin in northern China, winner of last year’s Junior Final and sixth at Junior Worlds in March 2014, was first again in Japan (221.92 points). He had some problems with his triple axels in both programs and missed a spin in the long, but landed three quads and seven clean triples there. In the short, juniors are not allowed to perform quad jumps. Shoma Uno (16) from Japan was only two points behind although he had no quad Salchow, no triple Axel in the long and one of his two quad toe loops was under-rotated. But his excellent style was rewarded with higher components. Dmitri Aliev from St. Petersburg in Russia was third, like in Slovenia two weeks earlier. It is not likely that this is enough to reach the Junior Final, but he can hope a few more weeks. His triple axels were good, but he stepped out of his quad toeloop.

Denis Margalik (17) on fourth place is the first Argentinian skater who finishes in a top position in an ISU event. He was born in Buenos Aires, but is the present Canadian junior champion and trains in Richmond Hill near Toronto. Without quad and triple axel he had no medal chance. Kevin Shum (17) of Artesia/California was the better of the two Americans and finished seventh with 169.84 points. His short program was almost faultless, but in the free program he had only five clean triples (did not try an axel) and missed his last spin. The second US skater Jimmy Ma of Hackensack, NJ, was 14th with only 139.71 points. In the short program the triple toe loop and the double Lutz were downgraded. In the free program only three triples were clean, but he fell on three others.

In the ice dance competition, the two best teams of the first Junior Grand Prix competed again. The Vancouver team of Madeline Edwards and Zhao Kai Pang took revenge for their narrow second place in Courchevel and won with a difference of 0.44 points against Alla Loboda and Pavel Drozd of Moscow who were second. Both teams will therefore reach the Junior Final and compete against each other there once more. In the short dance the Canadians had been ahead of the Russian rivals because of the higher levels in the first silver Samba and the parallel step sequence. In the free dance, however, the Russians had higher levels in the two step sequences and were first, but it was not enough to win overall.

US dancers Rachel and Michael Parsons of Rockville, MD, eighth at Junior Worlds 2014, won the short dance because they had the highest levels. But they could not defend their lead in the free dance to “Notre Dame de Paris” after performing a wobbly circular step sequence and fewer plus points on the other elements and ended up third. The second American dancers Elliana Pogrebinsky and Alex Benoit teamed up in spring 2014 and train with Igor Shpilband. They were fifth after a short dance with a few small slips and a good free dance to “Swan Lake.”