US Nationals: Junior Recap

Men:

Max Aaron was able to come from behind after the short program to win the junior mens title by almost 6 points.  He was able to land a triple axel in combination in his free skate but fell on his second triple axel.  He’ll be competing senior next season and the more mileage he can get on the triple axel the better, as many new seniors struggle with this element or only do double axels.  He’ll be heading to Junior Worlds later this month.

Alexander Zahradnicek took the silver medal after winning the short program.  He had one triple-triple combination in his free skate with two other solo triples and two triples in combination.  He only performed double axels in his programs.  Overall he looked very solid but he has aged out of the junior ranks and will need to step up some of his content to really make the jump to the senior level especially with such a deep, young field.

Alexander Aiken took the bronze with a 3rd place finish in both segments.  He had one triple-triple combination, one additional triple in combination and three solo triples along with double axels in his free skate.  This was his first national medal since 2005.  He is too old to compete as a junior internationally, and I think he’ll move up to seniors nationally next season.  He had a few jump errors and I’d like to see him get more consistent and add a triple axel to his arsenal.

Emmanuel Savary could have a bright future as he is quickly rising through the ranks and has just turned 13 years old.  He finished 5th in his first season as a junior and I predict he’ll stay at this level next season.  He has triple-triple combinations and Level 4 spins.  With some more experience and a triple axel he could have a good shot at the junior title next season, but he’ll have to fend off 2 time novice champ Nathan Chen.

Ladies:

Courtney Hicks blew away the field to win gold by almost 20 points and post the highest score ever for a junior lady under the Code of Points (beating the record set last season by Agnes Zawadzki).  Her signature spin, the Tw-Hicks wowed the crowd and she landed triple-triple combinations in both of her programs (which none of the medal winners in senior ladies executed).  She had three solo triples in her free skate and three triples in combination.  She has been compared to Sasha Cohen but she seems to be able to stay on her feet.  She has earned a spot on the Junior Worlds team and this will be her first international competition.  It will be interesting to see if she follows Zawadzki onto the Senior Grand Prix next season or elects to complete a year on the Junior Grand Prix.

Lauren Dinh pulled up to finish 2nd in the free skate and second overall with three triples in combination and three solo triples in her free skate.  She had a solid performance and was enjoyable to watch, but lacks some maturity in her performance skills.  She has not competed internationally and I’d like to see her complete a season on the Junior Grand Prix and stay as a junior next year before moving up to the senior ranks.

Katarina Kulgeyko fell to 3rd in the free skate and 3rd overall after popping her opening jump and receiving no credit.  She showed great maturity to come back from that mistake and complete the rest of her skate with no errors.  She didn’t have very high GOEs and I’d like to see her really land her jumps and gain more confidence in landing them so she can get more points.  She does have a double axel-triple toe combination which many of the senior ladies execute.  She’ll be 15 in May and I’d like to see her get a little international experience after her success nationally (three medals in three years in three different levels).

Mary Beth Marley and Ashley Cain were doing double duty with pairs and singles and finished 5th and 6th respectively.

Pairs

Cain and Reagan won both segments to win the gold medal in juniors only one year after taking the novice title.  For such a young team I was impressed with their poise and maturity on the ice and they have a very nice look together.  They had two throw triples in their free skate but only have a double twist.  She is 15 years old and he turned 21 in November.  They competed in the Junior Grand Prix Final and are headed to Junior Worlds.  Unfortunately, this is their final season of junior eligibility so they’ll need to work on the triple twist to be able to keep up at the senior level.

Poapst and Kneirim pulled up after a 6th place short program to win the silver medal.  They have a triple twist but only one throw triple.  They are in their first season together but their options for international development are slim as Chris is too old to compete at the junior level.

Andrews and LeDuc won the bronze medal after a 2nd place short program and 5th place free skate.  They have one throw triple and a double twist.  They’ll need to really up their technical content to compete as seniors.  This is their first season together and they’ll be heading to Junior Worlds later this month.  They only had one Junior Grand Prix assignment this season and I’d like to see what they could do with two assignments.

Dance:
Lichtman and Copely were the favorites going into the event after their trip to the Junior Grand Prix Final and were able to deliver and win the gold medal.  They have several of the Zoueva/Shpilband trademarks including great twizzles, interesting lifts and amazing choreography.  They’ll be going to the Junior World Championships this year, but will be competing as seniors next season.  They are older than Chock/Zuerlein and the Shibutanis and with Samuelson and Bates also returning it will be interesting to see where this team factors in to the national picture.

Bonacorsi and Mager won the silver medal and a trip to Junior Worlds.  With the senior ranks becoming increasingly croweded, I’d like to see them stay on the Junior Grand Prix next season.  They won one medal this season and I think they’d have a good shot at two medals and a trip to the Junior Grand Prix Final.  They have a very nice quality about them and they train at IceWorks with some of the top dance teams in Europe.

Cannuscio and McManus won the bronze medal with their entertaining high energy programs and are also going to Junior Worlds.  I think their programs are very fun and Anastasia has a ton of personality on the ice but as they transition to the senior ranks, I’d like to see them inject a little maturity into their programs while also keeping the qualities that make them unique and will help them stand out in a crowded field.

Yang and Baker were one of the younger  teams in this field and the surprise leader after the short program.  A costly mistake on the twizzles in the free skate dropped them to 6th overall.  I think they have a good future ahead of them as they have very nice flow and a very pleasant persona on the ice, but their music choice could be better.

McNamara and Carpenter are only going to be 12 and 16 this month.  Some of this immaturity began to show in their free skate as they lacked some of the flow and edge work of some of the older teams, but for their age they are very advanced and have made a lot of progress in only a years time.  They’ll have some time before they can compete internationally to really work out these kinks but by the time they’re ready for the Junior Grand Prix they should be a solid team.