One down already?
In the case of the ISU Junior Grand Prix… yes! Here’s a summary of the best and/or U.S. finishes in JGP Latvia:
GOLD: Ryuju Hino, JPN
SILVER: He Zhang, CHN
BRONZE: Timothy Dolensky, USA
Hino (age 15) won on the strength of his jumps (including a triple axel and a triple axel/triple toe), but the one who got more of my attention was Zhang, also 15… no triple axel yet, but a lot of strength and flow and very watchable! Similar words can be said for Dolensky— might be due to his age (he’s 19), but in a season where many of the U.S. junior men are hoping to break out the way Ricky Dornbush did last year, I say his performance here couldn’t have hurt that effort. U.S.’s Emmanuel Savary finished further back, in 14th.
GOLD: Polina Shelepen, RUS
SILVER: Zijun Li, CHN
BRONZE: Polina Agofonova, RUS
In similar fashion, the gold here went to she with the triple/triples—no triple axels, but in this case the other combos served 16 year-old Shelepen well. The other Polina (age 15) had a spottier outing in the FS but possesses some lovely spins, including one that emulates (if not duplicates?) Caroline Zhang’s “pearl” spin. Yasmin Siraj (age 15) and Ashley Cain (age 16), both of the U.S., finished 5th and 6th, respectively.
GOLD: Sui/Han, CHN
SILVER: Yu/Jin, CHN
BRONZE: Purdy/Marinaro, CAN
Although Sui/Han turned a lot of heads last year (and surely will again this year) as the Chinese Team of the Future, this wasn’t their best effort… several mistakes in the free skate and yet they still won handily. Which, sadly, doesn’t speak all that well for the rest of the competitors… including Oltmanns/Santillan, Denney/Frazier, and Duarte/Grafton, all of the U.S. (finishing 7th, 8th, and 9th respectively).
GOLD: Nosulia/Kholoniuk, UKR
SILVER: Kosigina/Moroshkin, RUS
BRONZE: Aldridge/Eaton, USA
I must point out that Nosulia/Kholoniuk had me at “Bust Your Windows,” a great R&B song by Jazmine Sullivan (and also found on one of the Glee soundtracks) that they used for their short dance. And Aldridge/Eaton pulled up to medal contention with a free dance that brought back the Riverdance trend of about 10-12 years ago… one of two U.S. medals earned this time out. Gamelin/Gamelin, also of the US, came in 17th (!) in the SD and 7th (!!) in the FD to finish out in 9th overall.
How did I see all this, you might ask? Why, via the brand-new ISU channel on YouTube. Say what?? Yes, it’s true. We’ll talk about that a little more next time.