2009 JGP Germany Preview

Dresden, Germany

With only three JGP events remaining, the results this week Dresden, Germany should prove to be critical in determining the top eight teams that will qualify for the JGP Final. Five of the 21 teams entered have already placed in the top five at their first JGP event and are in the mix for making the JGP Final.

In addition to the established field, yet another young Russian team will make its international debut. Ekaterina Pushkash & Jonathan Guerreiro may not have had much time together, but they have enough experience at this level of competition to have a shot at a podium finish in Dresden. With their former partners, Guerreiro earned the bronze medal at the 2009 World Junior Championships, while Pushkash finished in sixth place.

Russian teammates Marina Antipova & Artem Kudashev are the highest-ranked team in Dresden, coming off of a second-place showing at their first JGP event of the year, Torun Cup in Poland. Antipova & Kudashev were invited to compete at last year’s JGP Final when Piper Gilles & Zachary Donohue were forced to withdraw. With a podium finish at this event, Antipova & Kudashev have a great shot at making the Final outright this year.

Gilles & Donohue of the United States finished a surprising fourth at their first event in Hungary and face an uphill battle. After missing the chance to compete at the Final last year because of the injury to Gilles, they will undoubtedly have their game faces on in Dresden. A gold or silver medal should get them into this year’s top eight teams. This event will mark the team’s first event since a coaching change just a couple weeks ago — they now train at the Detroit Skating Club with Elizabeth Punsalan-Swallow, Pasquale Camerlengo, Anjelika Krylova, and Natalia Annenko-Deller.

Also from the USA and flying high off from their first JGP event, Lauri Bonacorsi & Travis Mager face their first competition on foreign ice. Although Bonacorsi & Mager fell in the free dance at JGP Lake Placid, the mistake was not costly enough to knock them off the podium, and they hung on to the bronze medal. In their first season on the junior level, this team has a shot at qualifying for the Final.

Italy’s Lorenza Alessandrini & Simone Vaturi also hold a bronze medal from this year’s series (Budapest) and are just behind Bonacorsi & Mager on the tiebreaker in the ISU standings. Last year, they also finished third in their first event, but faltered in their second, finishing seventh. They will need to keep their composure this year in order to make a run at the Final.

Germans Stefanie Frohberg & Tim Giesen are a new team, but they did not let their inexperience stop them in their first event this season. At JGP Lake Placid, they won over the audience and earned Level 4 for all of their elements in their charming free dance, en route to a fourth place finish at their international debut. Skating in their home country could help them get that extra push from the crowd that would bring them onto the medal stand. Juliane Haslinger & Tom Finke and Shari Koch & Christian Nuechtern round out Germany’s entries.

Canada’s Olivia Martins & Alvin Chau finished sixth at JGP Budapest to kick off their JGP season. They scored a personal best, even with all of the step sequences in the OD and FD receiving only level 2s. Now, more than a month later, it should be interesting to see how the judges place them, especially with them coming to Dresden as “Canada #1” rather than the “Canada #2” they were in Hungary.

They will be joined by Carolyn MacCuish & Tyler Morris, Canada’s reigning national champions on the novice level. They earned their spot on this roster with strong performances at Minto Summer Skate that included a fourth place in the original dance. MacCuish & Morris will be competing in their second of two back-to-back competitions; last weekend, they won the free dance at the Pikes Peak Classic.

Poland’s Justyna Plutowska & Dawid Pietrzynski set personal bests and finished sixth at their first JGP event, Torun Cup, three weeks ago.

Ukraine’s Siobhan Heekin-Canedy & Dmitri Zyzak have not yet competed this year, but will look to build on last season, where they had sixth- and ninth-place finishes on the JGP circuit.

The Westminster Waltz will kick off the competition at 10 a.m. on Thursday.