JGP ZAGREB RECAP: THE PODIUM VIEW FROM THE CAPITAL CITY OF CROATIA
by Anne Calder
Zagreb, Croatia hosted the fifth 2017 Junior Grand Prix event September 27-30. Since 1999, the Croatia Cup has been part of the Series nine times. Fifteen ice dance teams were in the original starting roster. One team withdrew after the short dance. Teams from six countries made their 2017 JGP debut: Canada, China, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the United States.
The podium included Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN) – gold; Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Erenenko (RUS) – silver, and Ksenia Konkina & Grigory Yakushev (RUS) – bronze.
Short Dance: In first and second place, Lajoie & Lagha (62.89) and Konkina & Yakushev (60.16) were the only teams to earn level 4 for both Cha Cha pattern dances. The Canadians’ higher technical mark was the 2.5 margin in placement. Shevchenko & Eremenko’s component score beat both top teams, but their element GOE dropped them into third (59.97) by a slim margin. All three top teams had personal best scores.
Natacha Lagouge & Corentin Rahier (FRA) were fourth (53.43); Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville (USA) were fifth (52.16); Ellie Fisher & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette (CAN) were sixth (49.06).
Free Dance: Lajoie & Lagha scored a personal best 87.41 with a powerful and fast-moving dance to “Dream” by Imagine Dragons and “Nemesis” by Benjamin Clementine. The spin, lifts and twizzles earned level 4. The program closed with high 1.70 and 1.60 GOE marks for their choreographic lift and twizzles. The 2017 Canadian National Champions won their first JGP gold medal with a personal best 150.30 total score.
Shevchenko & Eremenko were second with a season best performance to “Heart Cry” by Drehz and “La Boulange” by Yan Tiersen. All nine judges gave the Russians +3 marks for the opening twizzle set. Their component score was again the highest in the segment. The 2017 JGP Riga Cup Champions’ total 145.05 was a personal best score.
Konkina & Yakushev were third in the free dance with a dynamic dance to “El Choclo”. The Argentine tango music provided a fast-paced vehicle to move their level 4 spin, lifts, and twizzles across the ice. The program scored 83.61; the total was a personal best 143.77 and won the bronze medal.
Americans Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville moved into fourth place with a captivating tango. The program scored a personal best 75.38 with level 4 lifts, twizzles, and spin. The total was 127.54.
The new Canadian team, Ellie Fisher & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette, made their JGP debut to music from the dramatic Italian film, La Strada. The 72.92 free dance segment earned level 4 lifts, twizzles and spin. The total score was 122.00.
France’s Natacha Lagouge & Corentin Rahier withdrew from the competition after finishing fourth in the short dance. A bad fall prior to their short dance performance, later required Lagouge’s right arm be placed in a cast.
“Unfortunately the damage is there… double fracture to her hand, so we will have to change our plans for the next few weeks until she has fully recovered,” Neil Brown said.
Although they didn’t finish the competition in Zagreb, Lagouge & Rahier’s Coco Chanel-themed free dance from the 2017 Salzburg Junior Grand Prix is available for viewing on the ISU’s Junior Grand Prix Youtube channel.
JUNIOR GRAND PRIX FINAL ICE DANCE QUALIFIERS:
- Belarus: Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) 30 points
- Croatia: Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN) 28 points
- Croatia: Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Erenenko (RUS) 28 points
Featured JGP Riga Cup Video: Ellie Fisher & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette, free dance (via ISU Youtube Channel)
2017 MASTERS DE PATINAGE
The French Federation of Ice Sports held the 2017 Masters of Skating in Villard-de-Lans September 28-30. Junior and senior teams competed separately in the short and free dance.
The most anticipated program was the Olympic season free dance debut for the two-time World champions and 2017 World silver medalists, Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron.
The audience was rewarded with an elegant performance to Beethoven’s, Moonlight Sonata as the couple floated seamlessly across the ice, pausing only to accent each element with the crescendos of the music. The short dance (80.54), free dance (123.00), and total (203.54) high scores reflected the beautiful performance, and perhaps France’s enthusiasm for their top dance team.
While the gold medalists were forty points ahead of the pack, the second and third place teams of Marie Jade Laurialt & Romain LeGac (160.41) and Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron (158.38) were separated by only a slim 2.00 margin.
JGP GDANSK PREVIEW
The Junior Grand Prix series rolls on this week as 19 teams head to Gdansk, Poland. Boasting one of the largest ice dance rosters with 19 teams, the Baltic Cup is the sixth event on this year’s JGP series. Prior to 2017, the event has been part of the Junior Grand Prix circuit eight times. In addition, Poland has also hosted the JGP Final in 1999 and 2007. Prior winners Baltic Cup champions include the American teams of Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (2013) and Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (2015).
The medal hunt: Russia’s Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin won bronze at this event in 2015 and already have collected a silver medal at the Minsk Arena Cup in September. Skoptcova & Aleshin are an experienced team with a collection of silver and bronze medals from Junior Grand Prix events in the previous two seasons. With 2017 marking their third on the JGP circuit and final year of junior eligibility, they are poised to collect their first gold in Gdansk. The battle for silver and bronze is likely to come from two teams who have already earned a bronze medal at a prior JGP event this season.
A win in Poland for siblings Caroline Green & Gordon Green would clinch a spot in the JGP Final for the young Americans, who are competing in their first JGP season. A silver would give them an outside shot, but they would likely be alternates. A mistake in the short dance cost the team valuable points at Riga Cup, which may hurt them when it comes to a tie breaker for the JGP Final. They are joined by training mates Emma Gunter & Caleb Wein who are competing in their second JGP event after a seventh place finish at Riga Cup.
Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Nikita Nazarov of Russia are also competing in their first season on the JGP and the team finished third in Brisbane. Like the Greens, a win would grant them a spot in the Final, but a silver would likely lead to a tiebreaker situation.
Ukraine’s Darya Popova & Volodymyr Byelikov can also be viewed as medal threats in Poland. They are in just their second year as a team, but have already improved upon their finishes on the JGP series last season after finishing sixth at Minsk Arena Cup.
The short dance takes place on Friday, October 6 (3:30 AM EDT), with the free dance on Saturday, October 7 (11:00 AM EDT). You can follow the results live via the JGP Baltic Cup starting orders & results page or watch the JGP live on the ISU’s YouTube Channel.
FINLANDIA TROPHY PREVIEW
Like the Baltic Cup, Finlandia Trophy has a roster that includes 19 teams. Finlandia Trophy has been held annually since 1995 with the exception of 2005 when it was cancelled. It has been part of the ISU Challenger Series since 2014 and has included an ice dance competition in all but four years (excluding 2005).
The medal hunt: France’s Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron are favorites for gold in Finland. The two-time World Champions debuted at Masters de France last week and their free dance has already created a buzz. Since the final Olympic spots were allotted last week, the season will start gaining further momentum starting now.
Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin of Russia have won this event twice previously and are favorites for a podium spot this week. Little is known about the team’s programs this season. However, they’ve recently posted photos on Instagram from training sessions working with 1988 Olympic champions, Natalia Bestemianova & Andrei Bukin, who is Ivan’s father. Though the team has won several Grand Prix event medals and senior B events, they haven’t quite gotten their footing since moving to the senior level in 2013. Russia has just two spots for the 2018 Olympics, so breaking through at the start of this season is critical. They are joined by Betina Popova & Sergey Mozgov, who garnered attention with their strong free dance performance at Ondrej Nepela Trophy two weeks ago.
Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen earned an Olympic spot for Denmark, but will not be competing in PyeongChang because Laurence is not a Danish citizen. The team is competing in their third 2017 Challenger Series event and has two of the most creative programs this season.
Spain’s Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin are entering their second season together, but have already medaled at several international events. The team has worked with Antonio Najarro on the choreography for both of their programs this year and Finlandia Trophy marks their season’s debut.
The United States sends two teams to Finlandia, including 2016 World Junior Champions, Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter and Julia Biechler & Damian Dodge.
Until next time,