by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(13 October 2014) Six of the seven Junior Grand Prix this season took place in Europe and one in Asia. None where held in North or South America. Overall there were 25 competitions, with pairs events being held in only four of the seven competitions. An ISU live stream using four different cameras was sent out from each competition and later each program was put on YouTube.
Only five countries had at least one winner. The Russian anthem was played 14 times, the Canadian five times, the Japanese three times, the Chinese twice and the South Korean once. No U.S. skater won any of these 25 competitions, for the first time in many years.
In each category six skaters or couples qualified for the Final, to be held in Barcelona in December. Twelve of the 24 finalists are from Russia, five from Japan, four from Canada, and one each from China, South Korea and the United States. Some years ago half of the 24 finalists came from the United States. Last year six of the 24 were Americans, but this year there is only one U.S. finalist, Chelsea Liu & Brian Johnson, who earned the sixth entry into the final on a tie breaker in the overall standings.
In the Ladies Final, there are three Russian and three Japanese girls: Serafima Sakhanovich from Moscow got the highest number of points in her two Grand Prix. The other two Russian teenagers are Evgenia Medvedeva and Maria Sotskova. The three Japanese girls are Wakaba Higuchi, Yuka Nagai and Miyu Nakashio. First substitute is Karen Chen from the USA.
Skaters from five different countries are qualified for the Men’s Junior Final. The highest number of points were earned by Shoma Uno from Japan, followed by Boyang Jin from China. The other four finalists are Alexander Petrov from Russia, June Hyoung Lee from South Korea, Sota Yamamoto from Japan and Roman Sadovsky from Canada. He Zhang from China is first on the alternate list. The best placing U.S. skater in the Men's competition was Andrew Torgashev on 13th place, though Nathan Chen placed second in his one competition.
For the Pairs Final, four Russian, one Canadian pair and one U.S. team qualified. Only 22 pairs competed in the series, less than in previous years. The highest total points in their two Junior Grand Prix were earned by Julianne Séguin & Charlie Bilodeau from Canada. The four Russian teams making the final are Maria Vigalova&Egor Zakroev, Lina Fedorova & Maxim Miroshkin, Kamilla Gainetdinova & Sergei Alexeev and Daria Beklemisheva & Maxim Bobrov. The American pair making the final, Chelsea Liu & Brian Johnson, are from the school of Jenni Meno and Todd Sand. First alternates are Anastasia Gubanova & Alexei Sintsov from Russia. China, which had been a great pair skating country for many years, did not have any pairs in the series this year, as was the case for the big majority of the other ISU members.
In ice dancing, four couples in the final are from Russia and two from Canada. Anna Yanovskaya & Sergej Mozgov from Russia collected most points in their two Junior Grand Prix. The other three Russian teams are Betina Popova & Yuri Vlasenko, Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd and Daria Morozova & Mikhail Zhirnov. The two Canadian teams are Mackenzie Bent & Garrett MacKeen and Madeline Edwards & Zhao Kai Pang. First alternates are U.S. dancers Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons, who lost out on making the final on a tie breaker against four other teams who earned 24 points in their two competitions in the series.
The Junior Final will be held together with the Senior Final in Barcelona, Spain, the first time a Grand Prix event has been held in Spain. Competition begins on 11 December, and finishes on the 13th, with the exhibition taking place on 14 December.
Notes from the editor:
The statistics in this recap should give U.S. Figure Skating pause. U.S. participation in the final has gone from half the entries to one-quarter last season, to one entry that barely made it this season. No American won an event this season, and the fraction of medals of any kind won in the series by U.S. skaters dropped by about one-quarter since last season.
In Sochi, the U.S. was competitive for just one individual event medal. In the junior series just completed the U.S. has been crushed by Russia, Japan and Canada. The Senior series begins next week with Skate America. U.S. prospects in the Senior series seem little better than they panned out for the juniors. The only U.S. senior skater at this time that seems a sure bet to make the final is Gracie Gold.
At the May U.S. Figure Skating Governing Council meeting this year, federation president Sam Auxier and other federation leaders commented that the future of American figure skating was bright. Without an intervention of some kind, however, that bright light in the distance may just turn out to be the headlight of an oncoming train.