Junior Grand Prix Wraps in Dresden


Cha, Gubanova, Mishina & Mirzoev, and the Parsonses all claim their second title of the circuit, helping settle the lineups for the Finale.

The Junior Grand Prix series this year concluded in Germany with the Pokal der Blauen Schwerter in Dresden. A German JGP event in Chemnitz was among the events of the first JGP series in 1997, and it’s been a common event since. This is the eleventh time Germany has hosted the Junior Grand Prix. It was held in Dresden for the first time in 2009, and this is the fourth time for this city.


DRESDEN, GERMANY – OCTOBER 07: (L-R) Conrad Orzel of Canada, Jun Hwan Cha of Korea and Mitsuki Sumoto of Japan pose for a photo during the Junior Mens Medal Ceremony on day two of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating on October 7, 2016 in Dresden, Germany. (Photo by Joosep Martinson – ISU/ISU via Getty Images)

For his second gold, Korean Jun Hwan Cha proved untouchable in both his programs. This was true even when both his solo triple axel jumps were underrotated, and he singled out the quadruple salchow attempt in the free. So his only big ticket item was the awkwardly landed triple axel jump combination in the free. He instead scored big with the rest of what he had, most of which was absolutely beautiful, especially in his free program. His presentation scores there dwarfed everyone else’s. He won by nearly twenty-five points and qualified for the JGP Finale in style.

He was the only skater here to do so. Initially two more skaters in the field could have. But then Alexey Erokhov, the bronze medalist from Yokohama, withdrew with a torn ligament, leaving only American Andrew Torgashev. Torgashev was in position to qualify, with a silver and a second place going into the free. His short showed him to have everything but the triple axel, and he arguably outperformed even Cha in that particular segment. But his free was a disaster, with four falls, including on both his quadruple toe loop attempts, and one successful combination. He slipped to fourth and out of it.

Ukrainian Yaroslav Paniot suffered a similar fate. After the short, he held a narrow lead over for third over Mitsuki Sumoto of Japan and Conrad Orzel. He managed this mostly because he combined good presentation with a rotated triple axel, though he nearly fell on that. But Paniot would fall out of contention for the medals in the free. Like Torgashev, he went for two quad toes. He had the same results as the American for the first. The second wasn’t much better. These were his only major errors, and he managed one triple axel with a hand down, but the rest of the program just wasn’t enough to keep him from dropping to fifth.

Orzel was in fifth after the short, .13 behind Sumoto, mostly due to his presentation scores. He in fact skated clean with a triple axel, though neither it nor his loop were at all pretty. Sumoto did only a double axel, and his jumps as well as his skating looked far better.  Orzel more or less landed two triple axels and a quad toe in his free, even if neither axel was flawless. He landed all of his other jumps too, and some of them more prettily. This left him with by far the highest amount of technical content of anyone. Sumoto stuck to double axels, and did almost everything beautifully. It might have been enough for silver had his spins been as flawless as his jumps. But instead he failed to do one of them properly, and so slipped behind Orzel by a little more than half a point.

JGP Finale Lineup

  1. Alexander Samarin (RUS), 1st in Russia and Estonia
  2. Jun Hwan Cha (KOR), 1st in Japan and Germany
  3. Alexei Krasnozhon (USA), 2nd in the Czech Republic, 1st in Slovenia
  4. Roman Savosin (RUS), 1st in France, 2nd in the Czech Republic
  5. Ilia Skirda (RUS), 2nd in France and Slovenia
  6. Dmitri Aliev (RUS), 1st in the Czech Republic, 4th in Slovenia


DRESDEN, GERMANY – OCTOBER 08: (L-R) Yuna Shiraiwa of Japan, Anastasiia Gubanova of Russia and Eunsoo Lim of Korea pose during the Junior Ladies Medal Ceremony on day three of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating on October 8, 2016 in Dresden, Germany. (Photo by Joosep Martinson – ISU/ISU via Getty Images)

Like Cha, Russian Anastasia Gubanova ran away with it. Her lead in the short program wasn’t much, thanks to a stumble in her triple lutz-triple toe and a late finish. But her free skate was spectacular. There she combined that with a triple lutz-triple toe-double toe, a flawless technical execution, and a level of artistry that wasn’t far off spellbinding. Her winning margin was close to twenty points. Like Cha, she was the only one competing here to qualify for the JGP Finale. There had been five skaters, going in, who theoretically could have, but Korean Eunsoo Lim and the both Japanese skaters would’ve had to win.  Gubanova’s countrywoman Stanislava Konstantinova could’ve qualified with silver, but she would’ve needed a total a dozen points higher than the one she got in Russia.

Ultimately, Konstantinova didn’t even medal. Her troubles started in the short program, where she landed her triple lutz-triple toe, only to completely lose her loop. Artistry not far off Gubanova’s left her narrowly in third, four and a half points behind Lim, who had skated very well, with the same triple-triple combination. She again landed the triple lutz-triple in an excellent first half of her free, which allowed its creativity to shine better than it had in Russia. But then she fell on an axel and an underrotated flip as the fatigue got to her a little. Lim, in contrast, struggled in the first half of her program, singling out the toe after her lutz and falling on her loop. But she pulled herself together for the second half, and did just enough there to stay a point ahead of Konstantinova, for what would ultimately be bronze.

Konstaninova and Lim were both beaten in the free skate by Japanese skater Yuna Aoki, although she beat the Russian by only seven hundredths of a point. She started by rotating a triple lutz-triple loop, though she also fell on it. For the most part after that she skated clean, though she failed to do one of her combinations, and finished behind the music. She’d taken fifth after a short where she’d had her own single toe after a triple lutz, and ended up staying there. Silver instead when to her countrywoman Yuna Shiriawa. In the short she fell on her lutz and so had no combination at all, taking her down to sixth. But in the free, she not only landed that triple lutz-triple toe, she also did everything else clean to get herself past Konstantinova, who had so controversially beaten her back in Russia.

JGP Finale Lineup

  1. Anastasia Gubanova (RUS), 1st in the Czech Republic & Germany
  2. Polina Tsurskaya (RUS), 1st in Russia and Estonia
  3. Rika Kihara (JPN), 2nd in the Czech Republic, 1st in Slovenia
  4. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN), 2nd in France, 1st in Japan
  5. Alina Zagiova (RUS), 1st in France, 3rd in Slovenia
  6. Marin Honda (JPN), 2nd in Japan and Slovenia


DRESDEN, GERMANY – OCTOBER 08: (L-R) Anna Duskova and Martin Bidar of Czech Republic, Anastasia Mishina and Vladislav Mirzoev of Russia, Alina Ustimkina and Nikita Volodin of Russia pose during the Junior Pairs Medal Ceremony on day three of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating on October 8, 2016 in Dresden, Germany. (Photo by Joosep Martinson – ISU/ISU via Getty Images)

The pairs podium was contested between three Russian teams and one Czech one. With either gold or silver at their previous events, none had any trouble qualifying for the JGP Finale. It was a disappointing competition, however, for Junior World Champions Anna Duskova & Martin Bidar. In the short, she stepped out of both their jump elements, and they were left in third. They were only a point behind Alina Ustimkina & Nikita Volodin. They had skated clean, but not without visible effort, and their throw triple toe was much easier than the Czech’s throw triple lutz. But firmly ahead were Anastasia Mishina & Vladislav Mirzoev. They made up for underrotated side by side axels with a throw flip and the levels of their nonjump elements to claim the highest technical tariff, and were the only ones to beat Duskova & Bidar in presentation marks.

Mishina & Mirzoev had a mildly shaky free skate, but pulled the throw flip off again, as well as side by side salchows, and nearly pulled off what would’ve been the only clean three-jump of the competition, before he underrotated and stumbled on the second double toe. They were also the only team in the top four to not have major sync issues with their side by side spins. That was more than enough to win when Duskova & Bidar lost their own combination when he fell on its opening salchow. This was the biggest mistake any of the top four made, but the Czech team were also the least shaky on all their other elements, including side by side triple toes and their own throw flip. That helped move them up to silver.

Also helping them win silver were the far shakier skates of the other two Russian pairs. Ustimkina & Volodin especially suffered. Going for the same triple toe-double toe-double toe combination as Mishina & Mirzoev, they underrotated the triple in it. They landed their easiest jump elements, but their throw loop was wild with a hand down. Their closing lift was uglier. They were in fact fourth in the free skate, a point behind Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitrii Kozlovskii. But Boikova & Kozlovskii had been fourth after a short where their elements had already had difficults, their throw flip especially. In the free they landed side by side salchows, but their throws weren’t pretty, and they were lucky not fall on either their twist or their two lifts. Ustimkina & Volodin held on to bronze by three points.

JGP Finale Lineup

  1. Anastasia Mishina & Vladislav Mirzoev (RUS), 1st in Russia and Germany
  2. Anna Duskova & Martin Bidar (CZE), 1st in the Czech Republic, 2nd in Germany
  3. Alina Ustimkova & Nikita Volodin (RUS), 2nd in Estonia, 3rd in Germany
  4. Amina Atakhanova & Ilia Spiridonov (RUS), 2nd in the Czech Republic, 4th in Estonia
  5. Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitrii Kozlovskii (RUS), 2nd in Russia, 4th in Germany
  6. Ekaterina Borisova & Dmitri Sopot (RUS), 3rd in Russia and Estonia


DRESDEN, GERMANY – OCTOBER 07: (L-R) Anastasia Shpilevaya and Grigory Smirnov of Russia, Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons of the United States, Arina Ushakova and Maxim Nekrasov of Russia pose for a photo during the Junior Ice Dance Medal Ceremony on day two of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating on October 7, 2016 in Dresden, Germany. (Photo by Joosep Martinson – ISU/ISU via Getty Images)

As expected, Americans Rachel & Michael Parsons won gold, Russians Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov won silver, and therefore both teams qualified for the JGP Finale. The Parsonses did especially well for themselves. They didn’t get the all level 4s in the short dance the way they had in Japan, but through the competition, they got level 3 steps and level 4 everything else. This was a huge improvement for their free dance, even when they didn’t get as high marks for execution and presentation on that, despite still doing a good rendition of both programs. Shpilevaya & Smirnov were not quite on that level. They had moments of oddity in their short dance twizzles and especially their free dance spin and a rotational lift that went on too long. But they carried it through with good expression, if not always with good speed, and won silver comfortably enough.

Bronze was a close battle. After the short dance, Canadians Majorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha had a .19 advantage over Russians Arina Ushakova & Maxim Nekrasov. This was entirely on their slightly higher tariff; both teams performed well, if a bit slowly. The Canadians actually got level 3 steps, level 4 everything else, and a big three-point advantage in the free dance tariff. Their performance was good too, sharp and energetic.  But Ushakova & Nekrasov attacked their free dance like a pair possessed, knocking everything out in its first half. Even when they lagged a bit in the second half, they finished strong enough to claw back a point in the technical score, and take nearly three points more in presentation. It was enough to reverse their positions; the Russians claimed bronze by half a point.

JGP Finale Lineup

  1. Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd (RUS), 1st in Russia and Estonia
  2. Rachel & Michael Parsons (USA), 1st in Japan and Germany
  3. Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA), 1st in the Czech Republic and Slovenia
  4. Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron (FRA), 1st in France, 3rd in Japan
  5. Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (USA), 2nd in France and Russia
  6. Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov (RUS), 2nd in Japan and Germany

Next: Maria Sharapova’s Suspension Reduced on Appeal

Full results are available here. Full series standings are available here. The Junior Grand Prix Finale is held alongside the senior one, which this year will take place in Marseille 8-11 December.