by Laura Flagg | Photo by Daphne Backman
This week, 14 ice dance teams from 10 different countries head to Colorado Springs, Colorado to compete in the third Junior Grand Prix event of the season.
As the reigning U.S. junior champions and World junior silver medalists, Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter are the heavy favorites. However, despite their successes a season ago, they did not qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final, as they did in 2013. A strong performance in Colorado would be a great first step in qualifying for the final in Barcelona. They are skating to music from Carmen for their free dance. They train in Rockville, Maryland with Alexei Kiliakov, Elena Novak, and Dmitri Ilin.
Chloe Lewis & Logan Bye, who also represent the United States, train in Novi, Michigan, and will be looking for their first JGP medal after placing fifth in Courchevel last year. Lewis & Bye have had a solid summer season, winning the Youth Olympic Games qualifier in Lake Placid as well as finishing first in their free dance group at Chesapeake Open. Coach Igor Shpilband choreographed their new free dance to tango music, including selections by Astor Piazolla.
Ho Jung Lee & Richard Kang In Kam of South Korea are coming off an impressive fourth place finish in Bratislava to begin the season, where they set personal bests in both segments. While a berth in the JGP Final is very unlikely, winning their first international medal in Colorado is a very real possibility.
Two young Russian teams will be making their JGP debuts in Colorado. Ksenia Konkina & Georgy Reviya, who are coached by Alexei Gorshkov and Liudmila Gorshkova, won the bronze medal at the recent Lake Placid Ice Dance International event. They will be skating their free dance to “Moonlight” by Viper. Sofia Polishchuk & Alexander Vakhnov competed as juniors last season, but did not receive a JGP assignment. Polishchuck & Vakhnov are coached by Svetlana Liapina.
Canada is represented by Mackenzie Bent & Dmitre Razgulajevs and Payten Howland & Simon Pierre Malette-Paquette. Bent & Razgulajevs will be competing in their first international event after pairing up this past spring. Bent placed fifth at the 2015 Junior World Championships before parting ways with Garrett Mackeen. They train in Scarboro, Ontario with Carol Lane, and their free dance music is to the soundtrack from Ben Hur. Howland & Simon Pierre Malette-Paquette are in the second year of their partnership and finished 10th at Canadian Nationals last season. They are coached by Igor Shpilband and their free dance music is from “The Mask of Zorro”.
Eliana Gropman & Ian Somerville round out Team USA and will be making their international debut. While they did not qualify for U.S. Nationals last season, they were second in Novice in 2014. They train along side McNamara and Carpenter in Maryland with Kiliakov, Ilin, and Ramil Sarkulov. Gropman & Somerville finished second at the Youth Olympic Games qualifier in Lake Placid. For their free dance, they will be skating to “Ice Queen” by Dinletir and “Rebirth 2” by Solace.
Also training in Maryland, Gweneth Sletten & Elliot Verburg represent Great Britain and will be competing in their first-ever JGP event. The team recently won the IJS event in Sheffield. They will be skating to music from Funny Girl for their free dance.
Sarah Marine Rouffanche & Geoffrey Brissaud, who have been competing together since 2008, will be representing France. Last season, they finished sixth and eighth in their two JGP events and 15th at the World Junior Championships. They are coached by Muriel Zazoui & Olivier Schoenfelder in Lyon, France.
The short dance takes place on Friday, September 4th; the free dance is on the following day.