2016 Junior Grand Prix Ljubljana Cup Recap

by Anne Calder | Photo by Barry Gropman (from JGP St. Gervais)

The fifth JGP competition was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia September 21-25. 13 ice dance teams representing 11 countries participated.


The top five short dance performances were from the USA, Russia, France, and Canada. Four of those teams chose swing over hip-hop as their second rhythm.

Americans Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter dressed in black studded outfits opened their program to the blasting repetitive lyrics of Snap’s “The Power”. The reigning Junior World champions had level 2 twizzle and pattern issues that lowered the program four points (62.60) from the marks they received at Czech Skate. The rotational lift and not touching midline step sequence drew solid GOE marks that were the highest in the short dance competition.

The Ljubljana Cup was the first 2016 JGP competition for Russians Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin. The second year JGP competitors danced blues to Michael Bolton’s “At Last” and swing to “My Baby” by JYP. They miscounted their twizzle turns and drew a negative GOE, but the step sequence was level 3 and scored 8.64.

The second Russian team of Sofia Polishchuk & Alexander Vakhnov (pictured) danced blues to “Your Heart is as Black as Night” and swing to “That Man”.  The team scored 55.60 even though Polishchuck fell off her partner’s foot during the curve lift. The costly error earned no credit for the element. The base values and GOE for the level 4 twizzles and level 3 patterns and step sequence covered the loss and moved them into third place.

Natacha LaGouge & Corentin Rahier scored 51.06 with blues and swing dances to “Queen of Pain” by Devil Doll and “Candyman” by Christina Aguileira. They had difficulty with the pattern key points, but the straight-line lift and sit-spin twizzles earned level 4. The French team trains in Lyon with Olivier Schoenfelder.

Canadians Ashlynne Stairs & Lee Royer danced blues and swing to “Seven Nation Army” and “Why Me”, choreographed by their coaches Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe. Unfortunately, both their patterns earned a zero GOE from the judges. The twizzles and straight-line lift were level 4.The second year JGP competitors earned a personal best 50.52 score.


McNamara & Carpenter skated to David Garrett’s violin performance of AC/DC and Metallica’s rock hits  “Thunderstruck” and “Nothing Else Matters” plus his own “Rock Prelude”. Unfortunately, a bobble in their opening twizzles, followed by a combination spin and circular step sequence that earned only level 2 lowered their technical score.  The 86.02 points dropped them to third place in the free dance. The 148.62 total was ten points below their Czech Skate score three weeks ago, but enough to secure the gold medal and a spot at the Final.

Sofia Polishchuk & Alexander Vakhnov (RUS) won the free dance with a solid skate to the soundtrack of Romeo and Juliet. The speed and full ice coverage of the twizzles highlighted the program’s opening. Add the high base value for the level 4 lifts and spin and level 3 step sequences and the result was a personal best 89.16 score. The total 144.73 was also a personal best and moved them up from third to the silver medal. 

The other Russian team, Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin, was second in the free dance with a personal best 86.98 score to “O Mar E Tu”. Their spin, lifts and twizzles all earned level 4; both step sequences were level 3. The 143.78 was also a personal best score and earned them the bronze medal. The team competes back-to-back with a skate next week in Estonia.

The French team of Natacha LaGouge & Corentin Rahier skated to a medley composed by Yann Tiersen for the German film Goodbye, Lenin. The lifts, combination spin, and twizzles earned level 4; the step sequences were level 2. The sit spin closing choreographic twizzle earned a 1.68 score. The team began and ended the day in fourth place with a free dance 76.64 and total 127.70. Both were personal best scores.

Ashlynne Stairs and Lee Royer remained in fifth place after skating their free dance to the Beatles, “Something In the Way She Moves” and  “Here Comes the Sun”. The combination spin and twizzles earned their highest GOE from the judges. The 73.62 score and 124.14 total were both personal best scores.

“You can’t win a competition with the short dance, but you sure can lose it.”

The Ljubljana Cup short dance bears witness to the truth of the above statement. Ask Russians Sofia Polishchuk & Alexander Vakhnov and Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin what could have happened if they had skated their short dance just a tad better.

  • If Polishchuk & Vakhnov had not zeroed out on the short dance curve lift and lost the entire base value, their score could have been 2.00 – 4.50 higher plus a few GOE points. The difference between the first and second total was 3.56.  They may have edged out the champions, won gold and been closer to a JGP Final placement.
  • If Skoptcova & Aleshin had correctly counted their turns and not earned a level 2 and negative GOE for the twizzles in the short dance, their score could have been higher. The difference between the second and third total was .98. They may have beaten their country mates and earned the silver medal.