Having won the Junior Grand Prix event in Lake Placid just a week ago, Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates (pictured, left) are heavily favored heading into the JGP in Austria. Even with a few mistakes, Samuelson and Bates scored a personal best in the free dance and nearly passed their personal best total score. The 2007-08 season marks the duo’s third on the JGP circuit. Last fall, they won both of their events and a silver medal at the Junior Grand Prix final. They train in Ann Arbor with coaches Iouri Tchesnitchenko and Yasa Netchaeva and are ranked 18th on the ISU’s world rankings list. Samuelson is entering her final year of high school, while Bates is a freshman at the University of Michigan.
Maria Monko and Ilia Tkachenko of Russia are competing on the Junior Grand Prix series for the first time as a team. Tkachenko competed on the 2004 and 2006 JGP circuits with Anastasia Gorshkova, and won the bronze medal at the 2005 World Junior Championships; this is Monko’s first appearance on the JGP. Monko and Tkachenko teamed up too late to compete in the series last year, but finished 2nd at Russian Junior Nationals and 5th at the World Junior Championships in 2007. They are coached by Oleg Volkov and Alexei Gorshkov in Odintsovo and are ranked 52nd on the ISU’s world rankings list.
Several other teams are also in the medal hunt.
Piper Gilles and Tim McKernan of the US are looking to add another JGP medal to their collection. Gilles and McKernan won a bronze medal at the JGP event in Mexico last year and finished sixth at their second JGP event in Chinese Taipei. This is their second season competing on the JGP circuit. They train with Patti Gottwein in Colorado Springs and are ranked 57th on the ISU’s world rankings list. Both Gilles and McKernan have siblings who are competitive skaters. Gilles’ twin sister, Alexe, won the silver medal at the 2007 Junior Grand Prix event in Lake Placid in singles.
Joanna Budner and Jan Moscicki of Poland started strong in the compulsory dance event at the JGP in Romania, but mistakes in the original dance cost them several positions. They bounced back in the free dance and finished 6th overall, scoring a personal best total score of 130.58. This is Budner and Moscicki’s fourth season on the JGP. the original dance have been competing on the JGP circuit since 2004. They are coached by Bozena Bernadovska in Poland and Alexei Gorshkov in Russia and are ranked 29th on the ISU’s world rankings list.
Anastasia Vykhodtseva and Alexei Shumski are competing on their third season on the JGP circuit. Vykhodtseva and Shumski finished 8th at the 2006 JGP in the Hague, Netherlands, scoring 122.90. They are currently ranked 65th on the ISU’s world rankings list.