The top six qualifying teams from both the junior and senior Grand Prix series head to Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada from December 6-9 for the 2018 Grand Prix Final. At both the junior and senior levels, teams from Russia occupy half of the rosters.
Reigning World silver medalists Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue of the United States headline the field and are the only team that has previously qualified for the Grand Prix Final (GPF). Hubbell & Donohue qualified for the GPF in the top spot after winning back-to-back outings at Skate America and Skate Canada, the first two events of this year’s Grand Prix series. The Americans posted the highest rhythm dance score of the season (80.49) and have had six weeks since Skate Canada to continue to refine their programs in preparation for Vancouver.
Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin are the second team to qualify by winning two events, with victories at Grand Prix of Helsinki and Rostelecom Cup. Stepanova & Bukin posted the highest free dance score of the season (124.94) and have shown growth in each outing this season. While this is their first GPF, it is their fifth season as a senior team.
Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov of Russia qualified in the third place after collecting two silver medals on the Grand Prix series. They made a statement this season with strong performances that included winning the free dance at Skate Canada over Hubbell & Donohue by a slim margin.
Qualifying in fourth position, Italy’s Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri medaled for the first time on the Grand Pris series, claiming silver at Skate America and Grand Prix of Helsinki. Both of their programs are a step up from previous seasons and have been well received by judges and fans.
Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker of the United States were golden at NHK Trophy and coupled with their fourth place finish at Internationaux de France earned them their first Grand Prix Final berth. Hawayek & Baker relocated to Montreal after last season and are once again training mates of Hubbell & Donohue.
Rounding out the roster are Russia’s third entry, Tiffani Zagorski & Jonathan Guerreiro, who finished third at Skate America and second at NHK Trophy to punch their GPF ticket. Zagorski & Guerreiro made mistakes in their free dance at NHK Trophy, which cost them the top spot. The program, which was choreographed by Christopher Dean, is full of nuanced movements and should receive strong scores without the errors.
The top six junior teams qualified based on their placements at seven Junior Grand Prix events, which were held between August-October. Half of this year’s teams were also competitors at the 2017 JGP Final.
Russia’s Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov were fifth at last year’s Final and are the 2018 World junior bronze medalists. They are one of two teams who reached the Final by winning both of their events and they head to Vancouver as the top ranked team after the JGP series. Ushakova & Nekrasov competed at Amber Cup and Armenian Cup.
Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Nikita Nazarov qualified in second position after taking the top spot at both JGP Bratislava and Czech Skate. This is their final year of junior eligibility.
Team USA’s Avonley Nguyen & Vadym Kolesnik reached the Final after finishing second at JGP Amber Cup and taking gold at Ljubljana Cup.
Sofia Shevchenko & Igor Eremenko are competing in their second JGP Final after their gold medal finish at Cup of Austria and placing second at Ljubljana Cup. They just missed the podium at last year’s Final in Nagoya, Japan.
Canada’s Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha finished sixth at the 2017 Final and are in their final year of junior eligibility. The team won gold at the JGP in Vancouver and finished second at Cup of Austria.
Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya made history for their country by being the first ice dance team from Georgia to reach the Junior (or Senior) Grand Prix Final. Two silver medals from Czech Skate and Armenian Cup solidified the team in the final qualifying spot.
Schedule (all times local)
Thursday, December 6
2:05 PM Junior Rhythm Dance
Friday, December 7
3:45 PM Junior Free Dance
7:05 PM Senior Rhythm Dance
Saturday, December 8
7:00 PM Senior Free Dance