The 2020 World Junior Championships take place in Tallinn, Estonia, March 2-8. With the high level of skating this season on all platforms — the Junior Grand Prix circuit, the Junior Grand Prix Final and the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) — we expect there will be some serious showdowns at this competition. A number of the top skaters scheduled to compete in Tallinn will be age-eligible to move into the senior ranks next year, and the possibility of earning a Grand Prix assignment will be an added motivation to fight for a place on the podium.
Japan′s Yuma Kagiyama, the 2020 YOG men’s champion and the 2020 Four Continents bronze medalist, will be aiming to add another gold to his collection. There will be a quad of men challenging the rising Japanese star for that top podium step: Andrei Mozalev of Russia, the runner-up at the Junior Final and at YOG — both times losing to a Japanese man (Shun Sato at the Final and Kagiyama at YOG); Petr Gumennik and Stephen Gogolev of Canada. Daniil Samsonov, third at the Junior Final and the 2020 Russian junior champion, withdrew on Feb. 28. His doctor told a Russian news outlet that Samsonov, 14, is going through a growth spurt and is experiencing pain in his joints.
Gogolev had a rough start to the season following a growth spurt and an injury and failed to qualify for the 2019 Junior Final. However, a runaway victory at the 2020 Bavarian Open in early February showed he is back in top form. The 15-year-old, who will be aiming for a podium finish in his final year in the junior ranks, will be joined by teammate Joseph Phan.
In what will mark a historic moment in Tallinn, three men who will participate in this competition are not only the offspring of former champions, but are also coached by one or more parent. Kagiyama is coached by his father Masakazu Kagiyama, the 1989 World Junior bronze medalist and a three-time Japanese champion.
The other two represent the U.S.: Ilia Malinin, the son of Russian-born Tatiana Malinina — the 1999 Grand Prix Final and Four Continents champion and Roman Skorniakov, who both represented Uzbekistan during their careers — and Maxim Naumov, whose Russian-born parents Evgenia Shishkova and Vadim Naumov claimed the 1994 World pairs crown. Skating is also in the blood of Andrew Torgashev, the third U.S. man. He is the son of Ilona Melnichenko, the 1987 World Junior ice dance champion (with Gennady Kaskov) and Artem Torgashev, a two-time World junior pairs medalist (with Ekaterina Murugova). Both parents represented the Soviet Union during their respective careers.
The stars of the ladies field are Kamila Valieva, the reigning Junior Grand Prix Final and Russian junior champion, and Alysa Liu, the 2020 U.S. senior champion. These two young stars are in a class of their own technically, but Valieva has the artistic edge.
In pairs, the top two Russian teams are odds-on favorites to claim gold and silver at this competition, but the battle for bronze is wide open.
Ice dance will be a different story with Georgia′s Maria Kazakova and Georgy Reviya and Avonley Nguyen and Vadym Kolesnik of the U.S. — first and second, respectively, at the Junior Final, separated by a fraction of a point — the top two teams heading into this competition.
The 2020 World Junior Championships will be live-streamed worldwide on the ISU Skating Channel (link below) except in countries with TV/online rights holders.