Junior World Championships: Pairs Preview

This is a unique event as all of the medalists from last year are back this season.

Leading the pack are Sui and Han who rocked the senior circuit this season, medaling at both of their Grand Prix assignments and qualifying for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  They have a throw quad that they’ve been landing more consistently in their free skate throughout the season.  This team is also caught up in the falsification of age scandal which might take away their focus here.  If they skate like they have been all season, they should repeat as champions here.

Takahashi and Tran took the silver medal at this event last season and also had a good senior debut, medaling in both of their Grand Prix assignments.  They are the only pairs team in Japan and they are really taking advantage of their eligibility, competing in two JGP, two GP, JGPF, Four Continents, Junior Worlds and Worlds this season.  I thought they showed this strain at 4Cs and were sloppier than normal.  They’re also training two programs at the same time and are likely not getting enough reps in on either one.

Stolbova and Klimov are the only junior team to have defeated both Sui/Han and Takahashi/Tran this season.  They were nine points from gold at the JGPF, but have had the over two months since to focus solely on their programs.  I think they have a really good shot to pull up here, and with the deep pairs field in Russia, they’ll have to really pull out all the stops if they want a place on the senior teams next season.

Yu and Jin from China have not been able to excel to the same level as their teammates and are also caught up in the age scandal.  They had good scores on the JGP and took home a medal from the JGPF but they’re far behind the top three teams and will need some mistakes at the top to make it onto the podium here.

Cain and Reagan are leading the U.S. teams here and a top 5 finish is well within their sights.  They showed a maturity to their programs at nationals that was not matched in the field and put out two clean programs.  If they can repeat that here, they should have a strong finish to their first international season.

Silaeva and Minchuk qualified for the JGPF and placed 11th at this event last season but are not on the Russian team here.  Steele and Schultz also qualified for the JGPF but did not make the Canadian team.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Sui/Han
Silver: Stolbova/Klimov
Bronze: Takahashi/Tran

The teams:

Martini/Kiefer, AUT: They placed 15th at Europeans with personal best scores across the board.  They placed 20th at Junior Worlds last season.

Palyakova/Fomichev, BLR:

Jones/Gaskell, CAN: They placed 6th at Cup of Austria and 4th at Pokal der Blauen to qualify for the JGPF where they placed 6th.  They placed 7th at the World Junior Championships last season.

Purich/Schultz, CAN: They won bronze at J. Curry Memorial and Czech Skate to qualify for the JGPF where they placed 7th.

Sui/Han, CHN: Sui and Han are the reigning World Junior Champions. They won the silver medal at Cup of China with personal best scores across the board and bronze at Skate America with a personal best free skate to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  They won bronze at JGP Austria and gold at JGP Czech Republic to qualify for the JGPF but withdrew to focus on the senior event.

Yu/Jin, CHN: They won bronze at JGP Cup of Austria and gold at Czech Skate to qualify for the JGPF where they won bronze.

Kadlecova/Bidar, CZE:  They placed 7th at Europeans with personal best scores across the board.  They finished 7th at both their Junior Grand Prix assignments and placed 6th at Trophee Eric Bompard with a personal best short program.  They finished 14th at the World Junior Championships last season.

Clement/Hunt, GBR: They placed 13th at JGP Great Britain.  They finished 19th at Junior Worlds last season.

Khnychenkova/Magyar, HUN: They finished 15th at their Junior Grand Prix assignment.  They placed 7th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  They finished 15th at the World Junior Championships last season.
Gillespie/Dematte, ITA: They placed 12th at Europeans.  They finished 8th and 11th at their two JGP assignments this season.

Takahashi/Tran, JPN: They are the reigning Junior World silver medalists.  They placed 7th at Four Continents. They won silver at J. Curry Memorial and Pokal der Blauen to qualify for the JGPF where they won gold.  They won bronze at NHK Trophy and silver at Rostelecom Cup.

Epstein/Epstein, NED: They won the Junior event at Ice Challenge and NRW Trophy.

Klatka/Chruscinski, POL: They placed 12th at JGP Austria and 11th at JGP Germany.

Astakhova/Bochkov, RUS: They finished 9th at JGP Austria.

Stolbova/Klimov, RUS: They are the reigning Junior World bronze medalists.  They won JGP Cup of Austria and J. Curry Memorial to qualify for the JGPF where they won silver. They placed 5th at Skate America.

Vasilieva/Shevchuk, RUS: They finished 9th at JGP Great Britain.

Morand/Leemann, SUI:

Labrentieva/Rudik, UKR: They placed 13th at JGP Austria.

Andrews/LeDuc, USA: They are the reigning national junior silver medalists.

Cain/Reagan, USA: They finished 6th at J. Curry Memorial and won silver at Czech Skate to qualify for the JGPF where they finished 5th.