2009 JGP Poland Preview

JGP POLAND – Torun, Poland

Hop on board as the JGP Express makes a stop in Torun, Poland for the third event of the series. Located on the banks of the Vistula River, Torun’s Old Town and world famous gingerbread cookies should definitely be on the “to-do list” for anyone visiting here.

The original roster for Torun started with 17 teams, but due to some withdrawals, it has dropped to 14. Here are the teams scheduled to compete here:

Russia’s Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov have already proven themselves to be one of the top junior teams this year. Their international debut came two weeks ago at the JGP in Budapest, where they blew past the field and won the event by more than fifteen points. They are a fluid team with strong basics and, despite their youth, they present a surprisingly mature interpretation of “Schindler’s List” in the free dance. A medal in Torun will secure their place in the JGP Final in December.

Ilinykh & Katsalapov’s Russian teammates, Marina Antipova & Artem Kudashev, are another podium threat at this event. Skating together since 2001, their career thus far was highlighted by a silver medal at JGP Czech Skate last year, which helped them finish ninth in last year’s JGP standings. When Piper Gilles & Zachary Donohue had to withdraw from the JGP Final, Antipova & Kudashev had the opportunity to compete and finished eighth.

Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello is the lone entry for the United States. Together since 2006, Cannuscio & Lorello are JGP veterans, with three top-five finishes in four events over the past two seasons. Last year, they were fifth in a very deep junior field at the U.S. Championships, less than three-tenths of a point away from the pewter medal.

Anastasia Olson & Jordan Cowan were scheduled to join Cannuscio & Lorello on Team USA in Poland, but the team had to withdraw from their JGP debut. Two tendons in Cowan’s hand were severed in a practice accident just over a week ago. He is undergoing surgery and expected to make a full recovery.

Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam of Canada are in their debut season as a team and hope to make a strong impact in Torun. Both successful with former partners, the duo joined forces shortly after the Canadian Championships last season. They earned their place on the JGP circuit by finishing first in two events at Minto Summer Skate in Ottawa, one of Skate Canada’s primary monitoring competitions this year.

Véronique de Beaumont-Boisvert & Sebastien Buron also represent Canada. They made their JGP debut in 2008 at Skate Safari in South Africa, where they finished in seventh place. They finished sixth on the junior level at last year’s Canadian Championships, but struggled at the Québec Summer Championships, their monitoring competition.

From Ukraine, Ruslana Jurchenko & Alexander Liubchenko recently placed second at the European Youth Olympics. Last year, they finished just ahead of de Beaumont-Boisvert & Buron at Skate Safari. 

Lesia Valadzenkava & Vitali Vakunov, representing Belarus, are competing in their fourth JGP event over the past 3 years. They competed at the 2008 World Junior Championships, finishing 26th following the original dance.

Other JGP veterans include the reigning national junior champions for the Czech Republic, Karolina Prochazkova & Michal Ceska and Great Britain’s junior bronze medalists, Sarah Coward & Michael Coward. In their third JGP season together, Justyna Plutowska & Dawid Pietrzynski are the Polish junior national champions. Their highest JGP finish is 11th and they were 27th at the 2009 World Junior Championships, after the original dance.

The 2009 German junior champions, Dominique Dieck & Michael Zenkner, will be making their second JGP appearance of the season and looking to improve upon their 13th place finish in Hungary two weeks ago.

Three teams are making their JGP debut: Clara Berger & Christopher Molnar from France and a pair of Poles, Olga Yazkova & Rafal Dawidowski (Poland’s junior silver medalists) and Zajac & Damian Binkowski (novice national champions).

Competition begins Thursday with the Westminster Waltz compulsory dance, and chances are very strong that the audience will be entertained Thursday with multiple Polka original dances before the competition concludes Saturday.