by Anne Calder | Photo by Julia Komarova

The Junior Grand Prix moved from Yokohama, Japan to Saransk, Russia for its fourth event September 14-17. Sixteen ice dance teams from 13 countries competed.

Short Dance

The Russians dominated the short dance claiming three of the top four spots. The U.S. team squeezed into second just a point out of first place. The two French teams were fifth and sixth.

Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd (RUS) scored a personal best 64.96 with “St. Louis Blues” for both the blues and swing, which created a seamless flow of the rhythms. The 2015/16 JGP Final silver medalists hit all their pattern key points and earned level 4 grades.

Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomoranko (USA) beat their previous best with a 63.10 score. The St. Gervais JGP silver medalists danced to “Why Don’t You Do Right” and “Cool Cat in Town”. The patterns were both Level 3. The highlight was the 1.20-point GOE straight-line lift.

Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko (RUS) chose “Seven Nation Army” by Postmodern Jukebox and “Is that Too Much to Ask?” featuring Nina Zeitlin for their music selections. The second blues pattern missed key points and earned a level 2, while the lift and twizzles received level 4. The team bested their St. Gervais JGP score by 1.68 with a 57.88.

Eva Kuts & Dmitrii Mikhailov (RUS) made their JGP debut on home ice with “Dixie Biscuit” featuring Henrik Wagner and “Lonesome Cowboy” by Calvin Russell. The opening pattern missed key points and received a level 2. The midline step sequence and rotational lift were the program highlights. They are training mates of Shevchenko & Eremenko.

The two French teams each earned personal best scores – Julia Wagret & Mathieu Couyras (51.41) and Salome Abdedou & Dylan Antunes (50.19). Both unfortunately struggled with their blues pattern segments, but received their highest GOE marks for the hip-hop not touching midline step sequences.

Free Dance

The podium included the top three SD teams. The young Canadian team vaulted from seventh to fourth, while the French remained in fifth, and the third Russian team fell to sixth. Five of the top six teams earned personal best SD, FD, and Total marks.

Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd (RUS) introduced the choreography of their new French specialist– Benoit Richard, which combined erratic movements with the passionate music of “Malaguena”. Their gold medal performance earned a personal best 96.91 points. The program was highlighted by Loboda’s unique ‘leap of faith’ into the curve lift and Drozd’s balanced one-foot straight-line lift. The team earned its eighth straight medal at a JGP event, including two Finals. They next compete at the Tallinn Cup September 28 – October 2.

The young American team of Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko floated across the ice to the hypnotizing music of “Exogenesis Symphony Pt. 3” by Muse. The curve lift, perfectly timed to the crescendo of the music was a program highlight. Both the diagonal and serpentine step sequences earned level 4 and 1.83 GOE scores. The second place Igor Shpilband choreographed program scored a personal best 94.09. The young team has earned two silver medals and 26 points at the 2016 JGP Series.  

The technical specialist awarded the gold and silver medalists the same technical base values of 36.10, but the Russians outscored the Americans with higher GOE marks.

Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko (RUS) danced to a medley including: “Barra Limpa” by Louis Enrique, “Chanson d’Amour” by Denise Castle, and “Samba in Your Casa” by Matt Bianco. The “down in the ice” sit spin twizzles showed strength and uniqueness. Unfortunately, the curve and rotational lifts were a bit off balance. The program earned 83.79 points. Shevchenko at 14 displayed great maturity. The team has accumulated 18 points in its two events, which is not enough to qualify for the JGP Final.

In their JGP debut, Alicia Fabbri & Claudio Pietrantonio (CAN) danced to a medley by British singer and songwriter, Mika and earned a personal best 78.91. Their technical mark of 41.19 was the third highest in the ice dance event. The 2016 Canadian novice silver medalists earned level 4 for their strong lifts and combination spin. At age 13, Fabbri showed amazing poise and maturity beyond her years.

Julia Wagret & Mathieu Couyras (FRA) began and ended the day in fifth place. The Pink Floyd program earned a personal best 71.83 score. The team struggled with its step sequences and combination spin. The rotational lift with Wagret in a full split was a highlight. The final score was nine places above their last season’s JGP event at Cup of Austria.

Eva Kuts & Dmitrii Mikhailov (RUS) danced to “Midnight Waltz” by David Garrett and scored a personal best 69.56. An unfortunate spill on the diagonal step sequence cost them twice. The judges hit them with a -1.00 GOE plus the automatic fall deduction of -1.00. On the brighter side, the level 4 twizzles earned a 1.20 GEO mark. The team partnered up in March.