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Young Stars Rise to the Challenge on Junior Grand Prix Circuit

The International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating series kicked off its 12th season in late August. Close to 500 skaters from 50 countries registered to compete at the eight events of the series.

With only two chances to qualify for the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final the competition was fierce. The eight highest scorers in each discipline will head to the final in December.

The United States seemed to be on a nonstop winning streak, earning a total of 18 medals in the first five events. The only glitch in the series to date happened at the sixth event in Gomel, Belarus, where no American graced the podium.

The American teenagers turned it around at the next event, Skate Safari in Cape Town, South Africa where they swept the top step of the podium in all three disciplines contested. The U.S. competitors scored five medals at this event bringing their total to 23.

Seven out of the eight events have been contested. Here is a recap of the action to date.

THE MEN

Michal Brezina from the Czech Republic was untouchable at his two events (Courchevel, France and Merano, Italy). He defeated American Armin Mahbanoozadeh by a 10-point margin at the French event and soundly won his second event by a 27-point margin over runner-up Curran Oi from the U.S.

At his second event in Madrid, Spain, Mahbanoozadeh defeated Russia’s Artur Gachinski and currently ranks third on the leader board.

The United States cashed in on another gold medal at the Mexico Cup where Richard Dornbush claimed gold by a 24-point margin over reigning Canadian junior champion Elladj Balde.

At their second head-to-head at Skate Safari, Dornbush was again golden but by a much slimmer margin. Ivan Bariev of Russia skated into second and Balde had to settle for bronze. Dornbush is currently in first place in the overall rankings.

Alexander Johnson continued the U.S. golden run in Ostrava, Czech Republic, narrowly defeating Russia’s Bariev.

Denis Ten, 15, from Kazakhstan handily won the event in Gomel over Chao Yang from China. Oi placed a distant fifth.

THE LADIES

American ladies Kristine Musademba and Becky Bereswill went one-two in both events they contested. Musademba easily claimed gold over Bereswill in France but Bereswill stepped up the pace in Spain losing the title to her teammate by .37 of a point.

Melissa Bulanhagui kept the U.S. rhythm going, winning her first event in Italy over Japan’s Rumi Suizu. However, technical issues left the American in ninth place at her second event in Gomel. Haruka Imai of Japan won the competition over Oksana Gozeva of Russia.

Mexico City proved to be another golden competition for the United States with Amanda Dobbs and Alexe Gilles skating into first and second place, respectively.

Skate Safari was a golden competition for Gilles while her teammate, Dobbs, earned the bronze. Canada’s Diane Szmiett skated into second.

Yukiko Fujisawa from Japan claimed the golden crown in Ostrava. Angela Maxwell from the United States skated into second place.

THE PAIRS

Russian pairs teams have proven to be a dominant force this season, claiming gold at every event they contested.

Ksenia Krasilnikova and Konstantin Bezmaternikh claimed gold in Mexico over teammates Ekaterina Sheremetieva and Mikhail Kuznetsov.

In Ostrava, Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze led a Russian sweep of the podium with Sabina Imaikina and Andrei Novoselov taking the silver.

Iliushechkina and Maisuradze continued the trend winning the Gomel competition over fellow Russians Ksenia Ozerova and Alexander Enbert.

ICE DANCE

The American ice dance team of Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won the French leg over Canada’s Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill.

At the Italian stop, Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein from the United States out-danced Russia’s Ekaterina Riazanova and Jonathan Guerreiro, claiming victory by a seven-point margin.

Riazanova and Guerreiro got their revenge in Madrid and danced to gold defeating the Shibutani’s who had to settle for silver.

In Mexico, America’s Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell kept the ball rolling, scoring a decisive win over Ralph and Hill. The duo was dominant in South Africa, skating to gold with a nine-point margin separating them and the silver medalists, teammates Piper Gilles and Zachary Donohue.

However, Ostrava was a golden competition for Gilles and Donohue who defeated Marina Antipova and Artem Kudashev from Russia.

Top honors in ice dance in Belarus went to Alisa Agafonova and Dmitri Dun from the Ukraine. Ekaterina Pushkash and Dmitri Kiselev from Russia took the silver.

The final event of the series, the John Curry Memorial Competition, will be held in Sheffield, U.K. Oct. 15-18.


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