2016 Junior Grand Prix Yokohama Recap

by Anne Calder | Photo by Daphne Backman (from 2016 LPIDI)

The 2016 JGP Series held its third event September 8-11 in Yokohama, Japan – the only Asian and non-European city on the circuit. Eleven ice dance teams representing six countries competed.

The Short Dance has two rhythm requirements. Both patterns must be skated on the blues rhythm; the not-touching step sequence must be skated on Swing or Hip-Hop. The lindy, lindy hop, double and triple swing, boogie-woogie, jitterbug and rock’n’roll may also be skated as swing.

Short dance

Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons (USA) opened with a flexible and loose hip-hop move and twizzles to “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” by Fergie, Q-Tip, and Goon Rock. The duo seamlessly glided into their Blues patterns and straight-line lift to “Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey before another hip-hop gyration and their final step sequence. The 2016 World Junior silver medalists earned level 4 marks for all their elements and a 66.76 score.

Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov (RUS) earned a personal best 60.88 score for their Blues and Swing performance to “Air Mail Special” by Ella Fitzgerald (Club des Belugas remix). The fast moving, in sync twizzles were danced between the two pattern segments and earned 8.04, the highest in the SD. Each pattern was awarded a level 2.

Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron (FRA) were third, .20 points behind the Russians with a 60.68 score. The reigning French junior silver medalists chose Joe Cocker’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On”, and “Swing Baby” by Ji Young Park for their Blues and Swing rhythms. Their not-touching midline step sequence was executed completely in character and received a 1.76 GOE mark.

Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN) opened with their Blues patterns to “Shopping for Clothes” by the Coasters. The Montreal-based team used “Land of 1000 Dances” by Wilson Pickett for their Swing. In their second JGP season, they bettered their previous personal best score by almost five points (57.02).

Polina Ivanenko & Danill Karpov (RUS) made their JGP debut and scored 51.12 points. They opened with level 2 blues patterns and a straight-line lift to “Blues Get Off My Shoulder” by Robert Cray. Once the notes of Little Richard’s “Ready, Steady, Go” began, the youngsters moved into rock and roll mode and incorporated the energetic music into their twizzles and step sequence – American Bandstand on ice!

Free Dance

Rachel and Michael Parsons (USA) used the illusion of soft falling rain created by piano, strings, and marimbas as a background for their gold medal dance to Sophia Sin’s “Singing in the Rain”. The siblings painted a seamless picture with their effortless speed and flow across the ice. An unfortunate mishap on the opening twizzle lowered its base value, but the remaining technical elements earned high GOE marks from the judges. The 49.62 component program score was the highest earned in the three 2016 JGP events. The 2016 US silver medalists next compete at the Estonia JGP Tallinn Cup, September 28-October 2.

Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov (RUS) performed a fast-moving upbeat Italian folk dance to “Tarantella Napolitana” that brought the audience to its feet. They used light, quick steps throughout while maintaining their characters in an energy filled program that earned a personal best 90.62. The silver medal 151.50 total was five points above their previous best score. The 2016 Youth Olympic Games champions next compete at the JGP Ljubljana Cup, in Slovenia September 21-24.

Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron (FRA) earned a third place 88.08 score for their Russian Gypsy dance to “Shadritsa”. The program opened with a securely balanced one-foot curve lift followed by close, in-sync twizzles with good ice coverage. The St. Gervais JGP gold medalists maintained their character portrayal throughout and totaled 148.76.

Canadian 2016 junior silver medalists Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha scored a personal best 80.12 for their Rachmaninov fourth place program. A mishap in the opening circular step sequence unfortunately drew a negative GOE. However, they moved on quickly and earned level 4 for the twizzles, straight-line lift, and combination spin. Their total 137.14 was also a personal best score. They next compete at the last 2016 JGP event, “Pokal der Blauen Schwerter”
in Dresden, Germany October 5-8.

The second Russian team, Polina Ivanenko & Daniil Karpov performed a 73.40-point dance to Phantom of the Opera. The step sequences proved challenging for the youngsters, but they did earn level 4 for their twizzles, spin and curve lift. Their technical element base value total was the highest of the competition. The Ivan Lobanov coached team totaled 124.52.

A Conversation with the Winners

In the post competition interview with ISU commentator Ted Barton, Rachel and Michael Parsons shared some thoughts on their 2016 goals.

“We’ve been trying to up our performance – put on more of a show and tell more of a story through our skating,” Rachel said.

“We’re working on the emotional aspect,” Michael added.  “We feel we have the technical ability. Now we want to bring on the senior aspect of performing and telling a story.  We want to make it more seamless – make it look easier – better on the ice.”