Gomel, Belarus


Gomel, Belarus hosts the sixth Junior Grand Prix event of 2008.  13 teams representing eight countries will take the ice at the ISU JGP Golden Lynx in search of gold, silver, bronze, and the coveted ISU world ranking points. 

Ukrainians Alisa Agafonova & Dmitri Dun are making their season debut and should be the team to beat in Belarus.  Agafonova & Dun have been gradually working their way up through the junior ranks since 2004.  A gold medal here would be the first of their JGP career.  As first alternates to the 2007 JGP Final, they were the last minute replacements after the withdrawal of Canadians Joanna Lenko & Mitchell Islam, and they finished sixth.  Their personal best score of 151.56 is nearly ten points higher than any score achieved by their competitors in this event. 
 
After Agafonova & Dun, the medal hunt appears to be wide open.  The lone Canadian team heading to Gomel, Tarrah Harvey & Keith Gagnon, finished fourth at the JGP event in Merano, less than one point away from the bronze medal.  Harvey & Gagnon are competing in the final JGP event of their careers and could snag silver or bronze. 
 
Russians Ekaterina Pushkash & Dmitri Kiselev are also making their international season debut and could be medal contenders.  The team finished fourth and sixth at their JGP events in 2007 and are competing in their third season on the JGP circuit. 

The U.S.A. sends two of the rising teams in its arsenal, Sara Bailey & Kyle Herring and Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello, who all train at the University of Delaware in Newark, DE.  Bailey & Herring are fresh off a fourth place finish in Mexico where they were two points from bringing home bronze and posted a score close to that of Harvey & Gagnon’s in Merano.  Cannuscio & Lorello finished fifth at the JGP Merano Cup. 
 
Golden Lynx is the second JGP event for France’s Terra Findlay & Benoit Richaud.  Findlay & Richaud finished fourth at the JGP in Courchevel.  After winning the compulsory dance portion of the JGP in Courchevel, errors in their original dance dropped them to 11th in the OD and eighth overall.  The team rebounded to fourth after finishing third in the free dance.  Since this is their first international season, it is difficult to predict just how well they could do if they skate without major errors. 
 
Russia’s second entry, Tatiana Baturintseva & Ivan Volobuiev, is competing in the third JGP event of their careers after a seventh-place finish at 2007 Tallinn Cup and a fifth-place finish at JGP Courchevel earlier this season.   
 
American Lili LaMar is making her international debut with her new partner, Nikolaj Sorensen.  The team is representing Sorensen’s native Denmark and train with coach Mathew Gates in New Jersey. 
 
As the host, Belarus has three teams competing this week: Lesia Valadzenkava & Vitali Vakunov, Viktoria Kavaleva & Yirii Bieliaiev, and Hanna Asadchaya & Dmitri Lamtyugin.  The latter are coached by Irina Lobacheva and withdrew from an earlier assignment (JGP Courchevel).   
 
Rounding out the roster are Maria Nosulia & Evgen Kholoniuk of Ukraine who finished 11th at the JGP in Merano and Maria Popkova & Viktor Kovalenko of Uzbekistan.