by Anne Calder | Photos by Robin Ritoss
The Junior Grand Prix Final was held in Barcelona, Spain December 10 – 12. The event featured the top six ice dance teams from the ISU Junior Grand Prix Series. The skaters represented the USA, Russia, and France.
The teams finished in the same order of qualification.
Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA – pictured, right) placed first. The 2015 World Junior silver medalists blended two selections from Edvard Grieg’s, Peer Gynt Suite – one seductive and the other a frenetic melody that kept repeating itself as it grew faster and more intense. The program earned 65.90 points.
McNamara explained their choice of the nontraditional music for the Starlight Waltz pattern.
“We wanted something that stood out and was not the old one, two, three, one, two, three,” McNamara said. “It’s powerful music and gives us energy.”
Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons (USA) were second behind their training mates with 64.91 points. Their stellar performance to Sergei Prokoviev’s ballet Cinderella, earned level 4 for three elements.
“We both just went out and had a good time. We skated our hearts out, and it felt really good,” Rachel said.
Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd (RUS) danced a Chopin Waltz and Russian Battle March to receive a 64.01 and third place. The twizzles, lift and both dance patterns earned level 4.
“We had a long break after our GP events, so we worked a lot with experts to polish our programs and to make them the cleanest and most confident possible,” Drozd noted.
Betina Popova & Yuri Vlasenko (RUS) ranked fourth with 61.85 points. They skated to the soundtrack of the Russian television series, The Master and Margarita.
“This is our last season in juniors, and we want to present ourselves the best way possible to be considered a strong team next year,” Popova noted.
Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac (FRA) were fifth and scored 57.97 with a waltz and polka to selections by Dutch violinist Andre Rieu.
“I made a mistake on the third twizzle, but other than that, it was a good performance,” Le Gac said.
Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin (RUS) were sixth with a foxtrot and waltz that earned 56.51.
“We were a bit nervous, but we overcame that,” Aleshin said. “We wanted to work on the component score and have more emotions throughout.”
The second and third place teams flipped in the final standings.
Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA) completed their 2015 Grand Prix gold medal set with a first place skate to Carmen. The total score (159.26) was three points off their season best at Copernicus Stars, but Carpenter pointed out that it was difficult to compare the Final to the other series events.
“We did what we needed to do and put out a strong skate, maybe not our best skate ever, but we achieved our goal, so we are happy,” McNamara said.
At the press conference, the team was asked about their choice of music.
“We had our eye on it (Carmen) for a while, but we knew it was a very strong piece, and it would need a lot of maturity, so we wanted to save it until we could really use all of it and skate to all of it,” McNamara explained.
“When we chose Spanish music, we didn’t consider where the GPF would be held, but we are very happy we got to show the program in Barcelona,” Carpenter added.
Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd (RUS – pictured, left) moved up to second with a strong skate to “Lo ti amore” and “Paganini”. The total score was150.86.
“We skated well, but we could have done better,” Loboda said. “One of the step sequences was a level 2. We put in emotions; we enjoyed performing today.”
Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons (USA) had a few unfortunate mistakes in their Medialuna Tango Project program and slipped to third place with a 144.41 score.
“I caught my dress on my toe pick at the beginning, so I was trying to free it and not skate on it, and that threw us at the beginning,” Rachel said. “Then we rallied, but then there were a few little wobbles which probably could have been prevented. We know we can skate this program better than that.”
She then commented on skating to tango music.
“People say brothers and sisters can’t do this kind of music, but we wanted to show that we can make a strong connection,” Rachel added.
Betina Popova & Yuri Vlasenko (RUS) were fourth with 143.96 points. The three-time GPF competitors skated to “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé.
“We did all elements clean and skated with emotions,” Popova said. “Unfortunately the footwork got only a level 2, too bad we’re not able to get more. We feel that we make progress in our skating, but not in our placements.”
Vlasenko told the press the fall on a lift in the warm-up didn’t affect them.
Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac (FRA) scored a total 141.44 and earned a fifth place finish. The Montreal-based team skated their free dance to a medley of Beatles music, which Lauriault prefers.
“We want that when people listen our music they really feel it and feel the story,” Lauriault said. “The short program is more about the technique, but the free dance is more us. Personally, it’s my favorite.”
Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin (RUS) earned 134.61 points and placed sixth. The young team danced to “Iko Iko” by Club des Belugas.
“All together, I think we have done well here,” Skoptcova said. “There were some moments that I think we did a lot better than in the Grand Prix events. We are still young and we will keep developing and adding to what we do, especially technically.”
All of the teams agreed that the level of competition in Barcelona was very high.