by Jacquelyn Thayer


The Junior Grand Prix will make its seventh and final stop at the JGP Tallinn Cup in Tallinn, Estonia, a city that last hosted a JGP event in 2007. The crowded field of 22 teams includes three medalists from this season, all of whom will be vying for gold and the last berth or two at the JGP Final.

Russia’s Evgenia Kosigina & Nikolai Moroshkin, who took silver at the first JGP event in Latvia, may enter with an edge on their competitors. While their Latvia score of 119.24 is slightly below that of their top rivals at this event, the duo have earned the highest program component scores of any team entered here. Their elegant short dance and theatrical free dance to selections from Mendelssohn’s Die Erste Walpurgisnacht fared well with the international panel. Neither program was performed flawlessly in Latvia, meriting one-point deductions for an extended lift and a fall in short dance and free dance, respectively. Provided they present two clean programs here — and especially if they can achieve higher levels in the short dance — Kosigina & Moroshkin will be difficult to beat. An unknown factor is the extended break between their events. Additional training time can be a great advantage, but more recent competitive experience may be key. A gold or silver medal will secure their trip to the Final, and a bronze will enter them into the 24-point tiebreaker.

Some of Kosigina & Moroshkin’s competition will come from fellow Russians Anna Yanovskaia & Sergei Mozgov. For Kosigina, the competition comes from her former partner — Kosigina & Mozgov skated together until 2010. The new team of Yanovskaia & Mozgov took a surprise bronze medal in their first international event, Baltic Cup in Gdansk, scoring a total of 121.72. While ranking fourth in that event’s free dance, their dramatic Spanish-themed program earned the second-highest PCS in the competition, suggesting that a stronger technical performance may move the team higher on the podium. With 11 points in the standings from their bronze, Yanovskaia & Mozgov need a gold medal (worth 15 points) to qualify for the Final outright. If they win silver (13 points), they still have a shot at making it in on a tiebreak, but they will need a score of 133.32 or higher.

Canada’s Mackenzie Bent & Garrett MacKeen earned their second JGP assignment with a bronze medal at Brasov Cup, where their total score of 120.69 included a second-place finish in the short dance. Bent & MacKeen’s strength is in the technical mark; they actually had the highest technical element score in each event in Brasov. If the judges here favor their buoyant South Pacific free dance, they have a chance at reaching a higher step on the podium. Like Yanovskaia & Mozgov, Bent & MacKeen need gold to guarantee a spot in the JGP Final. If they take silver, a score of 134.34 would give them the last spot.

jgpestonia11-papadakis-cizeronFinishing just behind Bent & MacKeen in Brasov was the American team of Kaitlin Hawayek & Michael Bramante. In their second season together, Hawayek & Bramante have made an impressive debut on the JGP Series, earning a total of 115.12 at their first event. While the competition here is tough, the couple has already proven to be capable of rapid progress and strong finishes. They lost a few points on levels in their free dance in Brasov, so if they have had addressed those issues, they have a shot at landing on the podium in Tallinn.

Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron of France (pictured), fourth-place finishers in Gdansk, narrowly missed the podium in their first outing, hurt mainly by level issues. Their total of 120.82 and high PCS indicate that they may be true contenders here if they can get their technical mark up. Their swinging Elvis-scored free dance presents a substantial contrast to the programs of their main rivals, and may help set them apart here. Papadakis & Cizeron (as well as Hawayek & Bramante) have an outside shot at qualifying for the Final, mathematically speaking, but it would take a win. The French junior champions probably have the best interpretation in the field, but inconsistencies have hurt them in the past. If they can relax and skate cleanly in both programs, a gold medal is certainly possible.

The host nation of Estonia will have three teams at Tallinn Cup, which are led by two-time national champions Irina Shtork & Taavi Rand. Shtork & Rand are the only team in the field who competed at Tallinn’s last JGP event in 2007. In Brasov, the two were beset by falls in both short dance and free dance, resulting in a lower than expected total of 107.23 and landing them in seventh. They certainly have an opportunity to improve upon that performance at home. Viktoria-Laura Lohmus & Andrei Davodov and Hanna-Maria Tammo & Geido Kapp will join them on Team Estonia.

Practices begin Wednesday, October 12. The short dance is set for Friday, October 14 at 10:30 a.m., and the free dance for the morning of Saturday, October 15.