The seven events of the Junior Grand Prix Series this season were held in France, Romania, Austria, Japan, Great Britain, Germany and the Czech Republic.
The top eight in each discipline qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final in Beijing, China.
This season 13 skaters and/or couples out of the 32 who qualified for the final came from Russia, 10 from the USA, three from Canada and China, two from Japan and one from the Ukraine. No other country was represented.
Two Russian ladies were the high scorers of the series.
Moscow’s Adelina Sotnikova, 14, thrilled audiences with her performances in Austria and Great Britain. Her programs included triple-triple combinations (Lutz, loop and toe loop), and she showed excellent musical interpretation. Sotnikova earned a higher score in Austria than any of the ladies at the first four senior Grand Prix events.
St. Petersburg native Elizaveta Tuktamisheva won in Romania and excelled at her second event in Germany with triple-triple combinations and a fresh style.
A third Russian qualifier, Moscow’s talented Polina Shelepen, placed first in France and third in the Czech Republic.
Japan’s Risa Shoji was golden on home turf and at her second event in the Czech Republic.
Four ladies from the U.S. qual-ified. Christina Gao appears to be the most promising. Gao, who is coached by Brian Orser in Toronto, trained with Yu-Na Kim for a year and has developed a similar style.
Boston’s Yasmin Siraj, California’s Kristiene Gong and Kiri Baga of Bloomington, Minn., also qualified.
Another Californian, Vanessa Lam, won the Czech competition, but as it was her only assignment she did not qualify for the final.
Though history has shown that many ladies who are successful at the junior level lose their jumps after puberty, it is an entirely different story for the men. They develop muscles during that transition and often jump higher than before.
The best jumper in the series was Russian-born Andrei Rogozine, who represents Canada. Rogozine won both of his events (France and Japan) thanks to solid triple Axels and a very dynamic style.
Han Yan of Harbin, China, won in Austria and the Czech Republic and qualified without a triple Axel, but scored major points with a variety of other clean jumps and solid spins.
Four Americans will compete at the final: Colorado Springs natives Joshua Farris (second in Romania and first in Great Britain) and Max Aaron (third in France and second in Japan); Keegan Messing of Anchorage, Alaska (first in Romania and fourth in the Czech Republic), and Richard Dornbush of Riverside, Ca., who was first in Germany and fourth in Austria. This will mark Dornbush’s third trip to the junior final.
Russia’s Zhan Bush (third in Austria and second in Great Britain) and Gordei Gorshkov, who placed fourth in Japan and second in Germany, also qualified for the final. The first substitute was Artur Dmitriev Jr., the son of the great Olympic pairs champion Artur Dmitriev.
Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov from St. Petersburg collected the most points of all pairs in the series: 159.79 in Austria and 151.64 in Great Britain. Their style is elegant and fluid, and their elements are solid.
But it is the World Junior champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han from China who have the most fascinating style and interpretation. They ranked second in Austria and first in Germany in the junior ranks and second in China and third in the U.S. at the senior level.
There are two other promising Asian pairs teams, one of which is Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran, who live in Montreal, Canada, but represent Japan. They ranked second at both of their competitions in Great Britain and Germany.
The other is the Chinese pairs team of Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin, who were third in Austria and first in the Czech Republic.
These four teams are in a class of their own. Three of them also competed at senior Grand Prix events this season.
Two Canadian teams, Natasha Purich and Raymond Schultz of Edmonton and Taylor Steele and Ontario’s Robert Schultz, qualified as did America’s Ashley Cain and Joshua Reagan.
Russia dominated the ice dance discipline — six of the eight couples who qualified for the final represent that nation.
Moscow’s Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin, third at 2010 Junior Worlds, are the strongest team. They won their events in Romania and Great Britain with a big advantage. Their score of 155.04 points in Great Britain would have been enough to win Skate Canada.
Ekaterina Pushkash and Jonathan Guerreiro, who train with Natalia Linichuk in Aston, Pa., claimed the second-highest number of points during the series.
Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin, also from Moscow, claimed gold in France and Japan. Bukin is the 17-year-old son of Andrei Bukin, the 1988 Olympic champion with partner Natalia Bestemianova.
Evgenia Kosigina and Nikolai Moroshkin from Alexei Gorshkov’s school in Odintsovo have only been skating together since June 2010. Their progress from the first competition in France to their second in Germany, which they won, was dramatic.
The final two Russian couples who qualified for the final were Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin (silver in Austria and Great Britain) and Marina Antipova and Artem Kudashev, who were second in Germany and fourth in the Czech Republic.
Anastasia Galyeta and Alexei Shumski were the only team from the Ukraine to qualify – they won silver in Romania and bronze in the Czech Republic.
The only U.S. couple who qualified for the final was Charlotte Lichtman and Dean Copely, who train under Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband. They claimed gold in Austria and bronze in Germany.
Originally published in February 2011