U.S. Nationals Junior Ladies Preview

Four of these ladies are returning to the junior ranks at nationals, including reigning bronze medalist Katarina Kulgeyko.  The novice gold, silver and bronze medalists from last season have moved up for their first season as juniors.  Only four of these ladies have competed internationally this season, but two of them won medals.

Gracie Gold tore up the competition scene this year, impressing USFSA enough in her summer events to earn a spot on the Junior Grand Prix even though she failed to qualify for nationals last season.  She won gold in her debut and still holds the second highest mark for a junior lady internationally this season.  She has big, consistent jumps including difficult triple + triple combinations.  She has even worked on triple axels and triple + triple + triple combinations in practice.  She’s also showed that she has conquered her nerves and hasn’t lost an event this season.  The Midwestern section is extremely talented, with all the novice medalists last season coming from that section, and Gold still routed the field by 23 points.  If she can continue this pace she could be the best hope for the US to medal at Junior Worlds against the Russian ladies.

Hannah Miller is the reigning novice champion and also debuted on the Junior Grand Prix, winning a bronze medal.  She almost missed out on a trip to nationals after her short program left her behind the top contenders at sectionals.  She rebounded with her free skate to earn the final spot.  On the JGP, she set one of the highest short program scores of the season but her free skate didn’t match up.  If she can put together two clean programs, she could be in contention, but she doesn’t have the same technical difficulty as Gold.

Barbie Long is the reigning novice silver medalist.  Although she didn’t receive a JGP spot, she did several summer competitions and consistently showed good results.  She showed improvement between regionals and sectionals as well, showing she is on the right track.  Her short program is not her strong suit, but if she can put up good marks there, her free skate is where she can really earn the points.

Mariah Bell is the reigning novice bronze medalist.  She is a solid short program skater and you can count on her to go clean in that segment and end up near the top of the leaderboard.  However, she makes mistakes in her free skate that drop her standing.  If she can minimize the number of errors she has a great shot at the podium.

Ashley Cain is pulling double duty again this season, competing in both senior pairs and junior ladies.  She had a respectable outing on the Junior Grand Prix, placing 5th and 6th in her two events.  She also debuted on the Grand Prix in pairs at Cup of Russia.  Competing in both events seems to work for her and her coaches have devised a regimen in which she minimizes the number of repetitions in practice and focuses on consistency.

Despite being the reigning junior ladies bronze medalist, Katarina Kulgeyko may find it hard to make the medal stand this year.  She has struggled with injuries all season, even withdrawing from her first JGP event.  Her mark at regionals was significantly below her international result and while her sectionals scores were higher they still didn’t match where she scored earlier in the season.  If she’s healthy she can be a contender, but this is a tough field and any little error can cost her the podium.


My podium predictions:
Gold: Gracie Gold
Silver: Barbie Long
Bronze: Hannah Miller
Pewter: Mariah Bell


Bios of the competitors:
Jenelle Herman: She represents the Skating Club of Boston.  She won gold at New England Regionals and pewter at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 9th best free skate and 10th best total score.

Jessica Hu: She represents the Skating Club of North Carolina.  She won gold at South Atlantic Regionals and bronze at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 6th best short program, 7th best free skate and 6th best total score.

Haley Mulera: She represents the Washington Figure Skating Club.  She is the 2008 Juvenile Girls silver medalist and finished 7th in Intermediate Ladies in 2009.  She won bronze at South Atlantic Regionals and placed 6th at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Allison Timlen: She represents the Columbia Figure Skating Club.  She is the 2009 Intermediate Ladies bronze medalist, placed 11th in Novice Ladies in 2010 and 10th in Junior Ladies in 2011.  She won silver at South Atlantic Regionals and silver at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Mariah Bell: She is 15 years old and represents the Rocky Mountain Figure Skating Club.  She finished 8th in Intermediate Ladies in 2010 and is the reigning Novice Ladies bronze medalist.  She won gold at the Southwestern Regional and bronze at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 2nd best short program, 4th best free skate and 3rd best total score.

Gracie Gold: She is 16 years old and represents the Wagon Wheel Figure Skating Club.  She won gold at JGP Estonia.  She is the 2010 Novice Ladies pewter medalist.  She won gold at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the best short program, free skate and total scores.  She also has the 2nd best junior international score this season.

Barbie Long: She is 15 years old and represents the Springfield Figure Skating Club.  She finished 6th in Juvenile Girls in 2009, is the 2010 Intermediate Ladies bronze medalist, and is the reigning Novice Ladies silver medalist.  She won gold at the Upper Great Lakes Regional and silver at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 7th best short program, 3rd best free skate and 2nd best total score.

Hannah Miller: She is 15 years old and represents the Lansing Skating Club.  She won bronze at JGP Italy.  She finished 8th in Juvenile Girls in 2009, 5th in Intermediate Ladies in 2010 and is the reigning Novice Ladies Champion.  She won pewter at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 2nd best free skate and 4th best total score.  Internationally, she has the 10th best junior short program score for the season.

Camille Davis: She represents the Salt Lake Figure Skating Club. She won bronze at Central Pacific Regionals and pewter at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Polina Edmunds: She represents the Peninsula Skating Club.  She finished 6th in Novice Ladies in 2010 and 7th in Junior Ladies in 2011.  She won silver at Central Pacific Regionals and bronze at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 10th best free skate score.

Katarina Kulgeyko: She is 15 years old and represents the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.  She placed 5th at JGP Austria.  She finished 7th in Intermediate Ladies in 2008, is the 2009 Intermediate Ladies Champion, the 2010 Novice Ladies bronze medalist and is the reigning Junior Ladies bronze medalist.  She won gold at Southwest Pacific Regionals and Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 3rd best short program and 8th best total score.

Gwendolyn Prescott: She represents the Peninsula Skating Club.  She is the 2009 Juvenile Girls Champion and the 2010 Intermediate Ladies silver medalist.  She won gold at Central Pacific Regionals and silver at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 10th best short program score.

Ashley Cain:  She is 16 years old and represents the Stars Figure Skating Club of Texas.  She placed 6th at JGP Latvia and 5th at JGP Romania.  She is the 2010 Novice Ladies silver medalist and finished 6th in Junior Ladies in 2011.  She also competes in pairs and is the reigning National Junior Pairs Champion.  She received a bye to nationals as she was competing on the Grand Prix in pairs.