US Nationals: Junior Ladies Preview

The Junior Ladies event always promises to have some of the toughest competition at nationals and this year is no exception.  

Barbie Long won the pewter medal at this level at nationals last season and is looking for her 4th consecutive nationals podium.  She is the only lady in this field to compete on the Junior Grand Prix this season and she won the silver medal in Slovenia.  She has some difficult content planned including a triple lutz + triple toe in both programs and a double axel + triple toe in her free skate.  She also has a double axel + double toe + double loop planned in her free skate.  She struggled with some of her levels at sectionals receiving Level 3s on some of her spins and steps in both programs.  She is a very solid skater and is the one to beat at this event.

Polina Edmunds is only 14 years old, but this is her third year competing at the junior level at nationals.  She gained a lot of notice after her performances at nationals last season and was strong in all of her summer events but did not receive a Junior Grand Prix assignment.  She has some of the most difficult content planned at nationals including a triple lutz + triple toe in both programs and a triple flip + triple toe in her free skate.  She also has a triple loop + double toe + double loop in her free skate and all Level 4 elements.  She only received a Level 2 step sequence in her short program at sectionals so she still has room to improve.

Mariah Bell finished just off the podium at nationals last season.  She was assigned to the Gardena Trophy last spring but did not receive an international assignment this fall.  She is much stronger in the short program as she is consistently clean in that segment.  While she has all the triples, her technical content is less than some of the other top ladies in the field.  She’s only attempting a triple flip + double toe and a double axel sequence in her free skate.  She also received all Level 3s in her free skate at sectionals.  She’ll need a solid short program performance to stay in contention for the podium and bring up the levels in her free skate to get all the technical points possible.

Karen Chen is the reigning Novice Champion and is looking to make a splash in her junior debut.  She is also looking for her 4th consecutive nationals medal and her third consecutive national title.  She has her programs structured to maximize points with a triple lutz + triple toe and a triple flip planned in the bonus section of her short program.  She also has a triple lutz + triple toe and a double axel + triple toe in her free skate but had several underrotation calls at sectionals.  She also had a Level 2 layback spin in her free skate at sectionals so she has room to improve her scores.

Madison Vinci won the pewter medal as a novice last season and is looking to continue her podium run as a novice.  She is a consistently clean skater and has some nice technical elements like a triple salchow + double loop + double loop in her free skate.  However, she doesn’t have a triple flip which will hurt her in the short program as the flip is the required jump and all the top ladies will have a triple flip.  She also had some Level 3s in her programs at sectionals, so she has room to improve on the technical side.

Amber Glenn is the reigning Novice Silver medalist.  She had a 13 point bump from regionals to sectionals and is a real contender for the podium.  She has a triple lutz + double toe + double loop as well as a double axel + triple toe planned in her free skate.

Also in contention is Maria Yang who improved 14 points between regionals and sectionals to claim the Eastern Sectionals gold medal.  She has a triple lutz + double loop + double loop but did not attempt a triple + triple combination at sectionals.

There are three spots open for the Junior Ladies at Junior Worlds.  Historically, a junior competitor would need to win the event to be considered for a spot, and even then it is not a guarantee.  Leah Keiser, Hannah Miller and Angela Wang all competed at the Junior Grand Prix Final and will be competing in Omaha as seniors.  Vanessa Lam, Ashley Cain, Samantha Cesario and Courtney Hicks all competed on the Junior Grand Prix as well this season and will be competing at the senior level.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Polina Edmunds
Silver: Barbie Long
Bronze: Mariah Bell
Pewter: Karen Chen

Bios of the competitors:
Mariah Bell: She is 16 years old and represents the Rocky Mountain Figure Skating Club.  She is the 2011 Novice Ladies bronze medalist.  She finished 8th in Intermediate Ladies in 2010 and 5th in Junior Ladies in 2012.  She won gold at Southwestern Regionals and silver at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 3rd best short program, 4th best free skate and 4th best total scores.

Karen Chen: She is 13 years old and represents the Peninsula Skating Club.  She won pewter in Juvenile Girls in 2010, is the 2011 Intermediate Ladies Champion and the reigning Novice Ladies Champion.  She won silver at Central Pacific Regionals and silver at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 2nd best short program, 3rd best free skate and 2nd best total score.

Polina Edmunds: She is 14 years old and represents the Peninsula Skating Club.  She finished 6th in Novice Ladies in 2010, 7th in Junior Ladies in 2011 and 6th in Junior Ladies in 2012.  She won gold at Central Pacific Regionals and gold at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the top short program, free skate and total scores.

Amanda Gelb: She is 15 years old and represents the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club.  She is the reigning Novice Ladies bronze medalist.  She won gold at Southwest Pacific Regionals and pewter at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 9th best short program score.

Amber Glenn: She is 13 years old and represents the Dallas Figure Skating Club.  She is the reigning Novice Ladies silver medalist.  She finished 10th in Intermediate Ladies in 2011 and 12th in Juvenile Girls in 2009.  She won silver at Southwestern Regionals and bronze at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 4th best short program, 6th best free skate and 5th best total scores.

Brianna Laxson: She is 13 years old and represents the Washington Figure Skating Club.  She is the 2011 Intermediate Ladies pewter medalist.She finished 20th in Juvenile Girls in 2010 and 6th in Novice Ladies in 2012.  She won pewter at South Atlantic Regionals and pewter at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.     

Barbie Long: She is 16 years old and represents the Illinois Valley Figure Skating Club.  She won silver at JGP Slovenia.  She finished 6th in Juvenile Girls in 2009, is the 2010 Intermediate Ladies bronze medalist, the 2011 Novice Ladies silver medalist and the 2012 Junior Ladies pewter medalist.  She won gold at Upper Great Lakes Regionals and gold at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 5th best short program, 2nd best free skate and 3rd best total scores.

Dyllan McIntee: She is 14 years old and represents the Skating Club of Phoenix.  She is the 2010 Juvenile Girls Champion.  She finished 11th in Intermediate Ladies in 2011 and 9th in Novice Ladies in 2012.  She won pewter at Southwest Pacific Regionals and bronze at Pacific Coast Sectionals to qualify for nationals.

Olivia Serafini: She is 16 years old and represents the Skating Club of New York.  She finished 5th in Novice Ladies in 2012.  She won gold at North Atlantic Regionals and bronze at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 10th best free skate and 10th best total scores.

Katia Shpilband: She represents the Ann Arbor Figure Skating Club.  She is the 2009 Juvenile Girls pewter medalist and the 2010 Intermediate Ladies Champion.  She won gold at Eastern Great Lakes Regionals and pewter at Midwestern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 9th best total score.

Madison Vinci: She is 16 years old and represents the Washington Figure Skating Club.  She is the 2011 bronze medalist in Intermediate Ladies and the 2012 Novice Ladies pewter medalist.  She won gold at South Atlantic Regionals and silver at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 10th best short program, 7th best free skate and 7th best total scores of the season.  

Maria Yang: She represents the Washington Figure Skating Club.  She finished 8th in Juvenile Girls in 2010.  She won bronze at South Atlantic Regionals and gold at Eastern Sectionals to qualify for nationals.  She has the 6th best short program, 5th best free skate and 6th best total scores.