The Junior Grand Prix series continued this week in Linz with JGP Cup of Austria, where 22 men, 34 ladies, 12 pairs, and 13 ice dance teams vied for finishes that would bring them one step closer to the JGP Final in December. The ISU livestreamed the entirety of the competition and uploaded select skaters’ videos to YouTube; additionally, the ITL YouTube channel now features playlists of the medalists’ and special shoutouts’ performances. Here is the playlist for the JGP Cup of Austria and here is the one for JGP Bratislava.
This was a great chance to see the progress that skaters made during the off-season, particularly for those making their season competitive debut. Protocols, score breakdowns, and complete results can be found here.
🏅 In keeping with the Russian sweep of the junior pairs podium over the past two weeks, Polina Kostiukovich/Dmitrii Ialin easily won their second JGP title by over 14 points, tackling a side by side 3-jump combination that was senior-quality despite a downgrade. Earlier this year, the pair stood on another Russian-swept podium at 2018 Junior Worlds, where they won the silver medal.
🥈Anastasia Poliuanova/Dmitry Sopot, also of Russia, claimed the silver medal by a comfortable margin despite some unfortunate mistakes in their short program, with a fall by Anastasia during their step sequence and a loss of balance by Dmitry during their side by side spins. However, they came back strong in their free skate with a clean performance, with positive GOEs on all their elements! They set personal best scores in the SP, FS, and combined total, despite this being only their second season skating together.
🥉Alina Pepeleva/Roman Pleshkov rounded out the Russian dominance of the pairs podium, winning their first JGP medal. Despite a few fumbles in their short program, after which they sat in fourth place, they performed a technically strong free skate with positive GOE on all but two elements to clinch the bronze.
Pairs shoutouts of the week go to the Japanese team of Rika Miura/Shoya Ichihashi, who are paving new ground in a nation historically dominated by singles skaters, who landed a technically demanding throw 3Lz, and the Chinese team of Motong Liu/Tianze Wang, who also attempted a side by side 3-jump combination.
🏅 Camden Pulkinen (USA) defended his JGP Cup of Austria title with two strong performances that, despite some technical stumbles, showcased his mature artistry and sensitive expression. The 2018 US Junior Champion will next compete at JGP Czech Skate in Ostrava with the hope of getting his ticket to the JGP Final, where he is the reigning silver medalist.
🥈Koshiro Shimada (JPN) rose from 3rd place following the short program to win the silver medal, showing an impressive array of jumps and an evolving musicality. A hip injury last fall briefly stalled his training, rendering him unable to compete at Japan Nationals and in the latter half of the season. However, that didn’t stop him this weekend from earning his highest-ever finish at a JGP event (previously, he won a bronze medal at 2016 JGP France).
🥉Roman Savosin (RUS), the fifth-place finisher at last week’s JGP Bratislava, finished third to earn the fourth JGP medal of his career. Although he had to fight for several of his jumps, he was the only one of the three medalists to land a quad in the competition. Due to his placements, he will not be able to qualify for the JGP Final, but we will likely see him again at Russian Nationals, where he is the reigning junior silver medalist.
We would also like to give a shoutout to Daniel Grassl, who landed his 4Lz (downgraded) in the free skate, continuing his success from last week’s JGP event; and Conrad Orzel, whose programs and demeanor were wistfully reminiscent of a young Jeffrey Buttle, who is — not coincidentally — his choreographer.
🏅 Sofia Shevchenko/Igor Eremenko (RUS) clinched the title with two very intense programs. Despite some struggles with twizzles for Sofia in the free dance, they executed a beautiful straight line lift and skated with striking energy, flow and fierceness throughout. They will be hoping to improve on their 4th place finish at the JGP Final last season.
🥈Marjorie Lajoie/Zachary Lagha (CAN) won the silver medal, executing their programs with amazing emotional commitment while being impressively in sync throughout, especially on their twizzles. We were particularly struck by the speed of their rotational lift. They will compete at ISU JGP Canada 2018, hoping to secure a spot to a second JGP Final.
🥉Eva Kuts/Dmitrii Mikhailov (RUS) finished in third place. Skating to Every Other Freckle by alt-J for their free dance, they skated a thoughtfully choreographed program with impressive commitment and position changes on the music throughout, though the speed of their combination spin could have used some work to match with the rest of their skating.
To continue the theme of appreciating unconventional or otherwise interesting program choices, shoutout to Alice Rogatnik/Yehor Barshak for skating to the musical ‘Chess’ in the free dance, with interesting music cuts.
🏅 Alena Kostornaia, the reigning JGP Final and Junior World silver medalist, won first place with a significant gap of 12 points. She struggled with edge calls on her 3Lz in both the short and free programs, but displayed her characteristic musical sensitivity and interpretation that won over so many viewers last year. She is scheduled to compete again at JGP Czech Skate in Ostrava where she will be hoping to get her ticket to the JGP Final.
🥈Alena Kanysheva made her JGP debut with a declarative set of impressively clean performances and skated with great technical prowess, including three lovely 3Lz combinations. She is coached by Svetlana Panova, who has several girls debuting in the Junior Grand Prix this season - this is definitely a team to watch out for.
🥉Shiika Yoshioka of Japan clinched a third place finish with two spirited performances, skating with palpable joy on her face. As a relative dark horse in the very deep field of Japanese junior ladies, this was definitely the performance Shiika was looking for to make her mark on the field.
Shoutout to Haein Lee, who impressed us with her expression and energy in her free skate, and Ting Cui, who has made huge improvements to her expression and showcased some beautiful lines and extensions on her jump landings. Props to Guzide Irmak Bayir for her memorable Another One Bites The Dust SP - it’s always great to see some music choices that are outside the box.