Karuizawa, Japan, will play host to 13 teams from nine countries who will compete at the 2010 SBC Cup. This is the fourth of seven events that make up the ISU Junior Grand Prix series. Speculation on JGP finalists can begin as the gold and silver medalists from the JGP in Courchevel, the first JGP event of the series, will compete in Karuizawa, fighting to earn spots in the Final. The roster includes five teams making their JGP debut.
Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin of Russia made a splash in Courchevel, winning the gold medal in their JGP debut. The team finished seventh at the 2010 Russian junior nationals, a testament to the ice dancing depth in Russia. Bukin is the son of 1988 Olympic gold medalist Andrei Bukin, who initially coached the team before they began training full time with Alexander Svinin & Irina Zhuk.
Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin McManus of the United States claimed the silver medal in Courchevel, finishing nine points behind Stepanova & Bukin. The silver marked their first in international competition. This is the third season the team has been together and their second year on the JGP series. Another silver or a bronze here should solidify them for the Final, although ice dance is unpredictable and they could squeak in with a fourth place finish.
Japan marks the season debut for Russia’s Ekaterina Pushkash & Jonathan Guerreiro, who can be considered not only a threat for the podium, but a favorite for gold. Pushkash & Guerreiro are entering their second season together, teaming up in 2009 after each had achieved success with other partners. They qualified for the 2009 JGP Final where they finished ninth and ended their season with a sixth place finish at the 2010 World Junior Championships. This season marks their first after relocating from Moscow to Aston, PA to work with new coaches, Natalia Linichuk & Gennady Karponosov.
France’s Geraldine Bott & Neil Brown also competed at the JGP in Courchevel finishing fifth. The team had problems in the short dance, earning only level 1s on their Viennese Waltz, but rebounded with a strong performance in the free dance, finishing third in that phase. They’ll be aiming for a French medal here.
For the first time this season, Canada will use both of its ice dancing entries. Kelly Oliviera & Jordan Hockley (pictured at right), the 2010 Canadian novice champions, will make their international debut after a strong summer event season. Oliveira & Hockley train at the Scarboro Skating Club in Ontario under coaches Carol Lane, Jon Lane, and Juris Razgulajevs and beside training mates Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill and 2010 Olympians Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier. Hockley is the younger brother of Graham Hockley, who competed for Greece with Nikki Georgiadis.
Canada’s second entry is Victoria Hasagawa & Connor Hasegawa, who are also making their JGP debut. The siblings are coached by 2006 and 2007 World silver medalists Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon and are the 2010 Canadian novice bronze medalists. The team earned their assignments based on strong performances at the Thornhill Summer Skate where they finished second in both the short and free dances. This marks the international coaching debut for Canadian fan favorites (and parents-to-be), Dubreuil & Lauzon.
The second entry for the United States is Joylyn Yang & Jean-Luc Baker. Yang & Baker previously won the national juvenile and intermediate ice dance titles and finished third at the 2010 U.S. National Championships at the novice level. Initially named to the U.S. international pool, the duo had strong finishes at the Lake Placid Ice Dancing Championships and were monitored and assigned to Japan. They are coached by Baker’s parents, Sharon Jones Baker and Stephen Baker.
Dubreuil & Lauzon are not the only former competitors making international coaching debuts. Nozomi Watanabe & Akiyuki Kido, former international competitors for Japan, will be on the other side of the boards coaching Misato Komatsubara & Kokoro Mizutani, who are making their JGP debut.
Other teams on the roster include Yiyi Wang & Nan Wu of China, Myriam Gazzoumi & Clement Le Molaire of France (JGP debut), Dominique Dieck & Michael Zenkner of Germany, Karina Uzurova & Ilias Ali of Kazakstan, and Ayesha Yigit & Shane Speden of New Zealand.
Ice dancing will get underway with the short dance on Friday and the free dance will be contested on Saturday.