Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another Gold, Another Silver For USA in the Junior Grand Prix

SPECIAL NOTE: If you read this link from Variety Magazine you'll learn a little bit of a man named Joe Aceti, who passed away on October 5 at age 76. You may not be familiar with the name, but if you're a skating fan you've probably seen his work through the years. He was one of my interview sources for Skating on Air, so I had the privilege of spending a couple hours on the phone with him 2 years ago. I'll share more about him in a future post.

The Junior GP’ers of the skating world are hitting the homestretch of their 7-week tour rather quickly, with Skate America starting up just 6 days after JGP ends (save for the JGP Final, which of course doesn’t happen until December). Last week took them to Innsbruck; here are the highlights as I saw them…


GOLD: Han Yan, CHN
SILVER: Gordei Gorshkov, RUS
BRONZE: Keiji Tanaka, JPN

Americans Timothy Dolensky (finishing 4th)and Philip Warren (6th) were no match for Yan, Gorshkov, and Tanaka—the latter of which was free skating to the Untouchables soundtrack, if I’m not mistaken.


GOLD: Vanessa Lam, USA
BRONZE: Polina Agafonova, RUS

Lam pulled up from a 4th place SP to eke out a win over Li when Agafonova (yes, one of the THREE “Polinas”) could only free skate well enough to put her in the bronze medal range. I liked Li’s pacing better—Lam seems to rush through a lot of her choreography, though ironically she finished several seconds ahead of her music—but I suspect Lam had a few more difficult elements, since as I recall both ladies skated clean. American Katarina Kulgeyko did well in the FS as well, pulling her up to a 5th place finish.


GOLD: Sui/Han, CHN
BRONZE: Petaikina/Kurduykov, RUS

Sui/Han are senior-level jumpers and junior-level everything else, so especially in a JGP event, the jumping takes ‘em far. Yu/Jin chose Requiem for a Dream (ugh) but otherwise seem like very promising skaters. Further down in the standings were Duarte/Grafton (in 6th), Denney/Frazier (in 7th), and Oltmanns/Zantillan (in 11th), all from the USA.


GOLD: Sinitsina/Zhiganshin, RUS
SILVER: Aldridge/Eaton, USA
BRONZE: Nosulia/Kholoniuk, UKR

If these medalists’ names sound familiar to you, it’s because this the second time to the podium for some/all of them: Sinitsina/Zhiganshin and their Davis/White-esque Phantom of the Opera free dance won gold in Gdansk, Irish step-dancing Aldridge/Eaton won bronze won bronze in Latvia, and Nosulia/Kholoniuk won gold at that same event.

As for the Ondrej Nepela Memorial, held in Bratislava at the same time as JGP Austria, the quality of skating ranged widely from discipline to discipline. For the men, Japan’s Daisuke Murakami (aka “the other Dice-K”) edged out veteran Kevin Van der Perren for the win, with Samuel Contesti coming from a 6th place SP to a 1st place FS and overall bronze (and good news… Contesti’s new FS bears closer resemblance to the kind of program he had in 2009 (his “breakout year”) than the panpipe-a-licious routine he’s used ever since. Jonathan Cassar (of the U.S.) finished 4th; Grant Hochstein (also of the U.S) unfortunately blew a 2nd place finish in the SP with a 7th-place FS; he finished in 5th.

In pairs, Volosozhar/Trankov were the main attraction for sure, racking up a win with nearly 27 points over silver medalists Berton/Hotarek… who were just ahead of Iliusheckina/Maisuradze, with a catchy FS to A Chorus Line this season… and way back in 4th were Castelli/Shnapir, the Americans who continue to try for a throw 3axel in competition (but haven’t succeeded yet to my knowledge… it’s very close though!)

The other two disciplines attracted lesser-knowns only; Zhiganshina/Gazsi (GER) proved to be the best in ice dance, while France’s Mae Berenice Meite won gold for the ladies. The best known lady, Britain’s Jenna McCorkell, finished 5th… U.S. ice dancers Cannuscio/McManus came in 5th as well.

And in case you’re wondering who the heck Ondrej Nepela is, here’s his
1971 World Championship-winning free skate to help you with that.

Up this week… JGP Milan and Finlandia Trophy!

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