by Anne Calder | Photo by Barry Gropman

The ISU Junior Grand Prix opened its 20th season in St. Gervais, France, August 24-28. Sixteen teams from 12 countries competed. The number of teams allotted was determined by the results of the 2016 World Junior Championship. The host country, France, was allowed three teams. Points were awarded toward the Grand Prix Final qualification. Participants are permitted to compete in two of the Series competitions.


The SD required pattern for 2016/17 is two sequences of the Blues done one after the other or separately. The program music must also include Swing or Hip Hop. In addition, the teams are judged on a maximum seven-second short lift, a set of sequential twizzles, and a Not Touching Circular, Midline or Diagonal Step Sequence.

Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron (FRA) performed their blues to Joe Cocker’s, “You Can Leave Your Hat On’. The swing section was “Swing Baby” from Daum. The 61.11 score was a personal best. Former French international medalist, Fabian Bourzat, assists Igor Shpilband in the coaching and choreography of the team in Novi, Michigan.

Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) danced blues and swing to “Why Don’t you Do Right” originally written in 1936 but more recently performed in the animated film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and “A Cool Cat in Town” by Tape Five, featuring Brenda Boykin. The performance earned 60.44 points and trailed their first place training-mates by only .67.

Sophia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko (RUS) opened with the rock song “Seven Nation Army” reworked into blues by Postmodern Jukebox. The swing section was “Is That Too Much to Ask?” by Biboulakis. The team received 56.10 points after a 1.0 deduction for their extended straight-line lift. The team trains in Moscow with Irina Zhuk and Alexander Svinin.

Nicole Kuzmich & Alexander Sinicyn (CZE) train with Carol and Jon Lane in Ontario, Canada. Their music included two selections from the Robbie Williams album, Swings Both Ways – “Soda Pop” featuring Michael Buble (swing) and “Dream a Little Dream” featuring Lily Allen (blues). They earned a 55.25 personal best score. Sinicyn’s parents are on their coaching staff.

Sophia Polishchuk & Alexander Vakhnov (RUS) scored 54.42 points with a blues performance to “Your Heart is as Black as Night” by Melody Gardot and swing to “That Man” by Caro Emerald. Svetlana Liapina coaches the team in its second JGP season. They train in Moscow.


Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron (FRA) danced seamlessly to the gypsy sounds of “Shatritsa” and earned a personal best performance 91.06. The duo used the changing calm and frenetic instrumental tones to highlight their difficult technical moves. The level 4 twizzles were close and evenly distanced; the curve lift done on one steady leg was also level 4. The level 2 and 3 step sequences earned good GOE marks. The team’s first JGP gold medal 152.17 score was also a personal best. Abachkina & Thauron next compete at the JGP Yokohama, Japan September 7-11.

Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) captured the essence of “Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3” by Muse with a soft and elegant performance that earned a personal best 87.94 score. The curve lift was a perfect complement to the music. The team earned the silver medal with a personal best 148.48 score. Carreira & Ponomarenko next compete at the JGP Cup of Mordovia in Saransk, Russia September 14-18.

Sofia Polishchuk & Alexander Vakhnov (RUS) vaulted from fifth to third with a sound performance to the soundtrack of Romeo and Juliet. It earned a personal best 83.35 score. The level 4 twizzles were strong, close, and had good ice coverage. A time violation on the straight-line lift incurred a 1.00 violation. The total 137.77 score earned them the bronze medal. Polishchuk & Vakhnov next compete at the JGP Yokohama, Japan September 7-11.

Nicole Kuzmich & Alexandr Sinicyn (CZE) performed an animated routine to a medley of Charlie Chaplin selections that received 79.17 points. The team remained in comedic character throughout the skate. The total 134.42 was a personal best score. Kuzmich was born in Toronto; Sinicyn was born in Prague where his parents emigrated after competing internationally in ice dance for the former Soviet Union. Kuzmich & Sinicyn next compete at the JGP Czech Skate in Ostrava, Czech Republic August 31-September 3.

Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko (RUS) fell from third to fifth. The team danced to a selection of Samba music and earned 77.32 points. Their unique sit-spin twizzles ending with a quick swish of the knee to the ice are similar to those invented by their training mate Ivan Bukin. The Muscovites received a level 1 for their diagonal step sequence. In the Kiss & Cry, the team and coach looked surprised by the scores. Shevchenko & Eremenko next compete at the JGP Cup of Mordovia in Saransk, Russia September 14-18.