With just one week to go before Skate America, the juniors are set to wrap up the Junior Grand Prix series with event #7 in Yerevan, Armenia. With four of the six JGP Final slots locked up, the last two will be determined this week.  Armenian Cup is the lone international event this week, which gives us an opportunity to step back before the Grand Prix series starts in Everett, Washington in 9 days.

Solo ice dancer Emily Chang shared her thoughts on the implementation of International Judging System (IJS) in solo dance this past season.  Emily competed at the U.S. Solo Dance Series Final in September where she won the bronze medal in the pre-gold pattern dances and finished fourth in the junior combined event.  

IDC photographer Irina Tsimfer was on-site at Finlandia Trophy in Espoo, Finland and photos from the rhythm and free dances as well as practice and awards.  

Enjoy your week!

~ Team IDC


by Anne Calder 

The sixth Junior Grand Prix event – The Ljubljana Cup – was held last weekend in Slovenia. After two teams scratched, the roster was down to 15 couples from 12 countries, with Canada, Russia, and the USA each sending two teams.

Two more teams qualified for the Final – Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik of the United States and Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko of Russia The last two will be announced next week after the Armenia Junior Grand Prix.

The top three teams after the rhythm dance finished on the podium. The Americans, Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik were first, followed by the Russians, Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko, second, and Polina Ivanenko & Daniil Karpov, third.

Rhythm Dance

Nguyen & Kolesnik and Shevchenko & Eremenko both earned the same base values for their lifts, twizzles, and step sequences. It was the American’s higher GOEs and their seven of eight key pattern points compared to the Russians hitting only five of theirs that put the USA team first. The Russians did win the component score by .55 points.

Nguyen & Kolesnik’s 65.41 total segment score was a 2018 personal best. At the same time Shevchenko & Eremenko’s segment score of 63.79, was lower than their Cup of Austria score.

Ivanenko & Karpov earned level 4 for their twizzles and curve lift, but struggled with their step sequence (level 1) and completed only three of eight pattern key points. The segment scored 59.78.

Free Dance

On Saturday morning, when the free dances began, the Americans led by two-points.. The big question was whether Nguyen and Kolesnik could stand up to the pressure and maintain the lead. They needed a gold medal to guarantee the Final; silver and a high score was second best.

The two Russian teams skated before them and both performances earned personal best scores.

Ivanenko & Karpov scored 91.91 to the Peter Gunn soundtrack, while earning level 4 for the combination spin, lifts and both of their twizzles. Their level 2 step sequences lost them points.

Shevchenko & Eremenko skated next and delivered a 97.88 personal best performance to “Intro” by Onuka, “Witchdoctor” by Camo & Krooked, and “Lijo” by Alina Orlova. They also earned level 4 for the lifts, twizzles and combination spin. Their GOEs were +2, +3, and +4, but their base value was lower.

Shevchenko & Eremenko knew a second gold medal would guarantee them a trip to Vancouver and the Russian teams had already won four of the five events. They watched closely as the Americans were introduced.

Nguyen & Kolesnik skated to center ice and waited for the first chords of “Demons” and “Experience” to strike. Then the magic began as they seamlessly wove in and out of their elements creating an ethereal image like an artist painting on an empty canvas.

They, too, received +2, +3, and +4 GOEs, but their base values were higher.   They also scored a level 4 circular step sequence that was rewarded with 10.44 points. The segment scored 100.22. Their 165.63 total gave them the gold medal. The Russians followed with silver and bronze.

Darya Popova & Volodymyr Byelikov of Ukraine remained in fourth place with an 84.66 segment score to Chopin Nocturne performed by David Garrett and 141.77 total points.

Ellie Fisher & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette (CAN) were fifth with an 84.52 score to selections from Les Miserable. The total 141.60 was only .17 behind the Ukrainians. The Canadians competed in two 2017 JGP events. Ljubljana Cup was their 2018 debut.

Alina Efimova & Alexander Petrov (USA) scored 78.72 points for a sixth place free dance to “Who Wants to Live Forever” by the Tenors. The Americans’ JGP debut total was 131.41 and topped their July 2018 Lake Placid International score by almost 14 points.

Again this year, Ice-dance.com will be highlighting programs for each event. This week’s selections include the the rhythm dance of Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik (USA) and the free dances of and Alina Efimova & Alexander Petrov (USA), Villo Marton & Danyil Semko (HUN) and Emily Rose Brown & James Hernandez (GBR).  All performances from the entire JGP series are available on the ISU JGP Youtube Channel.


  • Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik (USA) have earned the only step sequence level 4 (CiSt4) in the first six JGP events
  • Three teams have scored over 100 in their free dance:
    • (100.95) – Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN) @ Canadian JGP
    • (100.54) – Arina Ushakova & Mazim Nakrasov (RUS) @ Lithuania JGP
    • (100.22) – Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik (USA) @ Slovenia JGP


The six competitors with the highest points will participate in the JGP Final. Tiebreakers include scores and placements. After the first five JGP events, the top ten points and scores are:

1. 30 points 320.62  Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Nikita Nazarov (RUS)
2. 28 points 327.47 Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik (USA)
3. 28 points 320.37 Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko (RUS)
4. 28 points 320.31 Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN)
5. 24 points 301.08 Polina Ivanenko & Daniil Karpov (RUS)

9. 15 points 168.17   Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov (RUS) *
11. 13 points 154.17  Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya (GEO) *
12. 13 points 152.21  Elizaveta Shanaeva & Devid Naryzhnyy (RUS) *

Team has qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final (bold)
* Team will skate one more JGP event – Armenia



by Anne Calder 

The Finlandia Trophy was held in Espoo from October 4-7. The city is part of the greater Helsinki area on the Gulf of Finland that has been hosting the event since 1995. It became part of the original Challenger Series in 2014. Eleven teams competed representing eight countries.

Russians Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin won their third Finlandia Trophy – 2014, 2016, and 2018 – with the highest Challenger score of the season – 200.78. Olivia Smart & Adrian Diaz representing Spain topped their previous Autumn Classic score by nine points with a 180.07 score and a second 2018 Challenger silver medal. Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac of France slipped into third place in their season international debut with a 176.46 total.

The Rhythm Dance was interrupted a few times to remove confetti that fell from the ceiling onto the ice surface. Skaters also noted a bird sighting.

Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin skated third. The duo opened the segment with sit twizzles that did not have enough ice coverage, and the element was called a level 1. The judges gave them +4 and +5. A level 3 Midline Step Sequence followed that scored 10.67 points.

At that point, a whistle blew, the music stopped and sweepers rushed on the ice to pick up paper debris. After several minutes and a few false starts, the dance resumed.

The Russians finished with level 3 patterns and a curve lift that scored almost all +4 GOEs. The performance scored 79.16 – the highest Challenger RD score to date.

Olivia Smart & Adrian Diaz representing Spain skated sixth and hit half their key points, but also had a timing issue, so earned only level 1 and 2 for their patterns. The twizzles and lift were level 4. The segment scored a personal best 72.61.

Skating ninth, Canadians Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus earned level 4 for their solid opening twizzles just before their Tango Romantica was interrupted with more confetti. Their straight-line lift received a level 4, followed by a Midline Step Sequence that gave them almost 10 points.

The total segment scored a personal best 70.79 for third place.

The free dance moved along with no more interruptions.

Stepanova & Bukin danced the Blues to “Am I the One” by Beth Hart and choreographed by Peter Tchernyshev. It scored a 2018 Challenger high 121.62. The spin, twizzles and lifts earned level 4; the footwork received level 3. The component score was 54.60 – almost 80% were 9 or above.

Smart & Diaz scored a free dance personal best 107.46 to a medley of Beatle songs that included “A Day in the Life”, “Something”, and “Let it Be”. The spin, lifts and twizzles were level 4.

Lauriault & LeGac were third in the free dance and snagged the bronze medal away from their training mates, Soucisse & Firus who finished fourth. The French team earned level 4 for their spin, lifts and twizzles and scored 107.17 for the Bruno Mars medley.

Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov were fourth in the free dance and finished fifth over all. The young Russians made their senior debut with a 103.61 dance to “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons. They missed the entire 2017-2018 season due to Smirnov’s injury and surgery.

Soucisse & Firus were fifth in the free dance to two Michael Jackson songs covered by Weeknd and scored 101.48. They finished fourth over all with 172.27 and missed a second bronze medal.



The seventh and final ISU Junior Grand Prix event takes place this week in Armenia.  Yerevan, the capital city as well as the cultural and industrial center of the Armenia, will host 15 teams.  In addition to medals, the last two spots for the JGP Final will be determined.  So far, Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Nikita Nazarov and Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko of Russia, Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik from the United States, Canada’s Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha have locked up four of the six positions. 

The medal hunt:  A medal of any color will solidify Russia’s Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov as competitors at the JGP Final and the duo are likely to add a second win to their 2018-19 resume.  Both Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya of Georgia and Elizaveta Shanaeva & Devid Naryzhnyy of Russia finished second at their respective events.  The battle for silver is likely to be close and will decide who takes the last spot in December’s JGP Final.  If it’s Kazakova & Reviya, they would be the first team from Georgia to reach the Final.

Canada’s Ellie Fisher & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette are competing in back-to-back events after finishing fifth at last week’s Ljubljana Cup.  

Teams take the ice for the rhythm dance on Friday at 3 PM (local time) and the free dance is on Saturday at noon.  There is an eight hour time difference between Yerevan and Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), which converts to 7 AM (EDT) on Friday for the rhythm dance and 4 AM (EDT) on Saturday for the free dance.  All performances will be broadcast live via the ISU Junior Grand Prix channel on Youtube.