12JGPF-DFD-6164-YM-RR 595by Katie Tetzloff | Photo by Robin Ritoss

The third event in this season’s Junior Grand Prix series will be held in Košice, Slovakia, from September 11 to 15. The dance event will feature 20 teams representing 15 countries.

After a successful start to the season, Mackenzie Bent & Garrett Mackeen of Canada will attempt to quality for the JGP Final this week.. Two weeks ago at Volvo Cup in Latvia, Bent & Mackeen won the short dance and placed third in the free dance, winning the gold medal by a narrow margin. Sticking to last year’s short dance theme, they have chosen songs from the television series “Smash” for their Quickstep/Foxtrot medley. Their free dance includes selections from The Carpenters and closes with “Hand Jive.”

Canada is also sending Lauren Collins & Danny Seymour to Slovakia. Collins & Seymour are the 2012 Canadian Novice National Champions, and this will be their international debut. They placed 10th at the junior level at the 2013 Canadian Championships and they earned this assignment based on solid results at summer competitions.

Anna Yanovskaya & Sergey Mozgov will be competing on behalf of Russia. This is their third season competing internationally and after skating in the shadows of their teammates, they seem poised to contend for the position of Russia’s top junior team this year.  Making the podium at every JGP event that they have attended, Yanovskaya & Mozgov also placed fourth at the 2012 Junior World Championships and the 2013 Junior Grand Prix Final.

For the first time this season, Russia will use its second dance entry, sending Kristina Baklanova & Andrei Bagin to compete alongside Yanovskaya & Mozgov. Baklanova & Bagin were eighth at JGP Bosphorus and placed sixth at the Russian Junior Championships last season. They will take on several classics in their short dance, including “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and “Sing Sing Sing.” Their free dance is set to “And the Waltz Goes On” by Sir Anthony Hopkins, which was popularized by Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir last season.

 

Representing the United States in Košice are Holly Moore & Daniel Klaber and Rachel Parsons & Michael Parsons. Moore & Klaber competed in their first JGP last season at Courchevel, placing eighth, and they are currently the national pewter medalists at the junior level. Their short dance is from “Chicago” and their free dance is a Perez Prado medley.

Parsons & Parsons are one of the more experienced teams at this week’s event, as this will be their third year on the JGP circuit. During the 2011-2012 season, the siblings placed fourth at the US Championships, qualifying them for Junior Worlds. Last year they placed sixth and third at the JGPs in Austria and Croatia, respectively. They were not, however, able to compete at the 2013 U.S. Championships due to an injury. Nevertheless, they are back on the scene this year, skating to “Funny Girl” for the short dance and lyrical selections from “Twilight” for the free dance.

Another team to watch is Korea’s Rebeka Kim & Kirill Minov. They qualified for the free dance in a tough field at the World Junior Championships last year. Depending on qualification and citizenship for Minov, they could compete in the team event at the Olympic Winter Games. Kim & Minov train in Moscow with Irina Zhuk and Alexander Svinin.

Bent & Mackeen, Parsons & Parsons, and Yanovskaya & Mozgov are the top podium contenders and should fight for the gold. The dance event begins on Saturday, September 14, and finishes with the free dance the following day.