The ISU Junior Grand Prix Series kicks off in Bratislava this week and travels to six other destinations across the globe between now and the middle of October. There will be over 300 skaters from more than 50 countries battling it out to secure one of the coveted six slots in each of the four disciplines for the Junior Grand Prix Final which again will take place this December in Barcelona, Spain.
While all four champions from the World Junior Championships in Tallinn, Estonia earlier this year have opted to compete as on the Senior Grand Prix, a number of medallists have chosen to remain at junior level as well as some other skaters who did not make it on to the rostrum. In the men’s category Sota Yamamoto from Japan, 2015 World Junior bronze medallist, will be one to look out for with Nathan Chen of the United States, 4th in 2015 and 3rd in 2014, another name to keep an eye on during the series. The ladies’ event looks set to once more be a Russia-Japan duel with the World Junior silver and bronze medallists Serafima Sakhanovich and Wakaba Higuchi headlining. Another Russian Maria Sotskova who was 6th at 2015 World Juniors and the Junior Grand Prix Final champion back in 2014 is also likely to feature. Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter from the United States are the only returning ice dance medallists from 2015 World Juniors. None of the pairs who medalled at 2015 World Juniors will be back on the junior circuit this autumn.
As with every year of the Junior Grand Prix Series, there will be breakout stars and surprising new faces. From Japan, Yuna Aoki and Marin Honda have already created enormous media interest back in their homeland despite their young years. The Russian ladies’ team is also expected to be as formidable again as it has been for the past number of seasons. Part of the excitement of the series is getting a glimpse of the great champions of the future.
Entries for the Junior Grand Prix Series are based on a quota derived from the placement of each countries’ skaters at the previous season’s World Junior Championships. Nations who did not field any competitors in categories at the championships are automatically assigned a spot in two of the events of the series. Pairs will only compete at four of the seven events.
Following on from last season, the ISU will once again will be streaming each of the Junior Grand Prixs live on its Youtube channel.
The seven events are as follows:
Bratislava, Slovakia (19-23 August)
Riga, Latvia (26-30 August)
Colorado Springs, USA (2-6 September)
Linz, Austria (9-13 September)
Torun, Poland (23-27 September)
Logroño (La Rioja), Spain (30 September – 4 October)
Zagreb, Croatia (7-11 October)