by Anne Calder 

Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarkenko (USA) won their second 2017 JGP gold medal; Anastatia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin (RUS) narrowly took silver, and Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov (RUS) won bronze.

Short Dance: Carreira & Ponomarenko earned a personal best 63.77 for their level 4 patterns, straight-line lifts, and twizzles. Skoptcova & Aleshin were second with 61.71. The two-point lower difference was the base value on their level 3 patterns and twizzles. Ushakova & Nekraskov’s lower step sequence GOE placed them third with a personal best 59.62 score. Canadians Ashlynne Stairs & Lee Royer also had a personal best with their fourth place 55.58. The new American team of Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik had a breakout fifth place finish in their international debut with a 50.37 score.

Free Dance: Carreira & Ponomarenko used the W.E. soundtrack as a vehicle to drive their emotional journey of obsession and disappointment. The level 4 twizzles, combination spin, and spectacular opening stationary lift earned an 86.28 segment score. The total 150.05 was five points higher than their 2017 gold medal score at Salzburg. *

Ushavova & Nekrasov received a personal best 83.32 for their second place performance to Fergie’s “Be Italian” from the romantic musical drama, Nine. Their level 4 twizzles, lifts, and spin contributed to a technical score that was .13 higher than the winners, but their PCS was three points lower. Their personal best 142.94 total was not enough to overtake their country-mates’ short dance score. They earned the bronze medal.

Skoptcova & Aleshin were third in the free dance with an 81.93 score for a tango selection by Gotan Project. The lifts and spin were level 4, but the level 3 twizzle and level 2 serpentine step sequence base values lowered their technical score. The total 143.64 gave them a slim +.70 ahead of the other Russian team and the silver medal.

The gap between the podium winners and the fourth place team of Ashlynne Stairs & Lee Royer (CAN) was over 20 points. In fifth were Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik (USA), followed by Darya Popova & Volodymyr Byelikov (UKR).

* Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko are the first team in ice dance to qualify for the JGPF.

An excerpt of ISU commentator, Ted Barton’s, interview with Carreira & Ponomarenko:

Barton: You have punched your ticket to the Junior Grand Prix Final in Nagoya. What do you do between now and then?

Carreira: We will be working on our Cha Cha because I feel that’s our weakest point.

Ponomarenko: We’ll take our constructive criticism, improve on it, and patch up the holes in the program so we’ll be ready for the JGPF.

Featured JGP Riga Cup Video:  Yuzhu Guo & Penkun Zhao (CHN) free dance (via ISU Youtube Channel)



While Team IDC was in Montreal for the Autumn Classic International (recap will be posted separately), a second ISU Challenger series event was taking place across the ocean in Bratislava, Slovakia – the Ondrej Nepela Trophy. 


Held annually since 1993, the Ondrej Nepela Trophy has included ice dancing in all but two years (2003, 2006).

Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev walked away with the gold medal in Bratislava.  In their Challenger series debut, Rachel & Michael Parsons of the United States claimed silver, while Betina Popova & Sergey Mozgov of Russia collected bronze. 

Short dance:  Bobrova & Soloviev, the 2013 European Champions, set the high score in the short dance with 71.08. The team received level four on only two of their elements, but were aided by a component score that was five points higher than the next team. They join Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi of Germany and Nora Hoffmann & Maxim Zavozin of Hungary as the only teams to win this event twice.

Finishing second in the short dance, siblings Rachel & Michael Parsons received 10.14 points for their step sequence in route to posting the highest technical score. They were 3.60 points off the leaders.

Popova & Mozgov finished a distant third with 60.98 points. This was only the second international event for the team who paired up last season.  

Germany’s Shari Koch & Christian Nuchtern created a buzz with their fourth place short dance to music by Paloma Berganza and Chayenne. 

Free dance:  Skating to “Oblivion” by Astor Piazzolla and “Beethoven’s Five Secrets” by One Republic, the Russians solidified their place atop the podium.  Five of their elements were graded level 4 and all received all positive GOEs. They ended the event with 181.92 points.

Parsons & Parsons finished third in the free dance, but were able to hold on to second place with 163.14. They skated to a medley of music that included “La Partida” by Victor Jara and “Sikuridadas” and “Quiaquenpita” by Inti-Illimani.

Although Bobrova & Soloviev claimed gold, it was Popova & Mozgov (161.92) who exceeded expectations. Skating to Carmen Suite by Bizet, the team scored 100.94 points and was second in the free dance. 

Korea’s Yura Min & Alexander Gamelin finished a distant fourth (141.78).




by Laura Flagg

The fifth Junior Grand Prix (JGP) event takes place this week Zagreb, Croatia.  Fifteen ice dance teams are planning to compete, several of which are hoping to secure a spot in the JGP Final (JGPF) in December.

The medal hunt: Both Russian teams are favorites to medal.  Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko, who train with Irina Zhuk and Alexander Svinin, won their first event in Latvia by upsetting training mates Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov. Shevchenko & Eremenko need to place at least third to qualify for the JGPF.  Ksenia Konkina & Georgi Yakushev placed second at their prior JGP event in Austria and would need a victory here to mathematically secure a spot at the JGPF, although another second place finish could be enough to qualify.  They are coached by Alexei Gorshkov and Maxim Bolotin.

Their main competition comes from the Canadian team of Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha, who placed second at their JGP Brisbane this season, which was their first JGP medal.  Like Konkina & Yakushev, only a win will guarantee them a spot at the Final.  They train in Montreal.

Ellie Fisher Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette

Ellie Fisher Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette (CAN)

Natacha Lagouge & Corentin Rahier will be representing France in Croatia.  They earned a bronze medal at JGP Salzburg and are coached by Olivier Schoenfelder, Muriel Zazoui, and Neil Brown.

Two American teams will also be competing. Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville are at their second JGP event of the season after crushing their personal bests in Australia and placing fourth.  They train with Alexei Kiliakov, Elena Novak, and Dmytri Ilin. Two-time U.S. National novice medalists, Sophia Elder & Christopher Elder, will be making their JGP debut.  They are coached by Kelley Morris Adair and Donald Adair in Louisville, Kentucky.

Ria Schwendinger & Valentin Wunderlich, who are the top German junior ice dance team, are competing in their first JGP event of the season.  They placed 7th and 8th and their events last season, and followed that up with a very strong showing at the Junior World Championships, finishing 10th.  They are coached by Rostislav Sinicyn, Natalia Karamysheva, and Martin Skotnicky.

Rounding out the field are two new teams, including the Ukranian team of Olga Giglava & Yegor Yegorov, who placed 7th in Austria and Canadians Ellie Fisher & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette will be making their international debuts after a solid showing in summer competitions. 

The short dance takes place on Friday, September 29 (5:30 AM EDT), with the free dance on Saturday, September 30 (6:00 AM EDT). You can follow the results live via the JGP Croatia Cup starting orders & results page or or watch the JGP live on the ISU’s YouTube Channel.

Until next time,

Team IDC