With six events completed, the 2012 Junior Grand Prix Series will conclude this weekend in Chemnitz, Germany. Germany’s JGP event, Pokal der Blauen Schwerter, has been held five previous times in the past ten years. The last two events, in 2009 and 2010, were held in Dresden. Chemnitz last hosted this event in 2007.
Russia’s Alexander Stepanova & Ivan Bukin posted the best score of the series thus far at the fourth event in Turkey, a total of 147.73. They are the reigning junior world silver medalists, and it will likely take a disaster for them to finish anywhere but first at this competition. Even if disaster did occur, they would need to fall to sixth place or lower to miss the JGP Final. Stepanova & Bukin certainly scored well in Turkey, but they do have a couple of opportunities to
improve in the short dance. If they can sort out their levels in that program, they could have first junior short dance over 60 points this year.
Their Russian teammates Daria Morozova & Mikhail Zhirnov are the only team that still has a slim chance to qualify for the Final, although the odds are not with them. The “easiest” scenario that would get them to the Final would be a gold medal. They could also qualify if they a) win the
silver medal, b) earn 142.29 points, and c) have Stepanova & Bukin finish no higher than sixth. In a more realistic realm, Morozova & Zhirnov have a chance to stand on their first JGP podium if they improve upon their fourth-place, 111.49-point outing at the second event at the JGP USA. In Lake Placid, they skated well in the short dance and were in podium position, but faltered in the free.
Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker will represent the United States in Germany. Their international début several weeks ago in Turkey was not without errors, but they did well,
scoring 127.99 and finishing fifth. They were sitting in third place after the short dance, but a stumble on footwork in their free dance prevented them from staying on the podium on a very competitive day. The Americans have only been skating together for a few months, but have already made big strides and should be fighting for a medal this weekend.
Canadians Noa Bruser & Timothy Lum had the opposite experience in Lake Placid. After a seventh-place short dance, Bruser & Lum recorded a fourth-place free dance and nearly overtook Morozova & Zhirnov, scoring 110.67 to finish fifth. Many of the teams who struggled in the short dance at Lake Placid went on to fare much better in their second assignments, and this is Bruser & Lum’s chance. They are generally quite strong in the free dance, so if they can set themselves up well from the beginning this time, they are also in the running to earn their first JGP medal.
Mariève Cyr & Benjamin Brisebois Gaudreau will join Team Canada in Germany for their first international assignment. They finished eighth at the Canadian Championships last year on the junior level, and they recently won the Souvenir Georges-Éthier.
The short dance is scheduled for Friday morning, and the free dance will be contested on Saturday morning.