Nam Nguyen The new world junior men’s champ. He was gutted at his 16th place finish at a Junior Grand Prix event in Poland earlier this season, but hey, he was in the process of growing about half a foot. But six months later, he turned it around. He wanted to win. It’s his reaction that got to me most: his little throw of the first the split second after he took his final pose; the throwing back of his head in disbelief in the kiss and cry, and then the tears. There is still lots of work to be done, but it will fuel his confidence for (senior) worlds, where he hopes for a top 15 finish.
Deniss Vailijevs, Latvia. Only 14. Delightful. Musical.
Roman Sadovsky, Canada. Only 14, too, and he skates as if he is older than that. Charming. I will always put down what I’m doing to go watch him.
Elena Radionova, Russia. Stood out from the crowd. Won by 12 points. Is 15 now. Has good skating skills, just needs to grow in strength and power. Great footwork. Best thing about her: her open countenance. Julia Lipnitskaia is introverted, has an old soul. Radionova is a people person, lives life with joy, looks outward. It’s impossible to dislike her.
Jean-Luc Baker, United States. Dances with Kaitlin Hawayek. Son of a British ice dancer and it shows; he is a DANCER. Has edges, and works with the right people. Anjelika Krylova at the boards with them. He’ll never be tall, but love those feet and knees and expression.
Anna Yanovskaya and Sergey Mozgov, Russia. Silver medalists in dance. Striking, long-limbed team. Just as it seemed that rather petite skaters were the new norm in dancing for all of those tight twizzles, and spins and turns, here comes a look from the past: tall and lean and with an attitude that you must watch them. Russia’s best team wasn’t here, by the way. Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (son of Olympic champ Andrei Bukin) are 2013 world junior champs, have talent, but missed this event with illness. They’ve already skated one senior Grand Prix.
Madeline Edwards and Zhao Kai Pang, Canada. Dancers with a future. Wonderful edges and expression. Can’t wait to see how they will develop. The new junior world bronze medalists.
Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin, China. The world junior pair champs. Jin even looks a little bit like his famous coach, Hongbo Zhao. Very expressive, technically apt team and aware of their music. Love them. Lots of senior-level tricks.
Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov. Russia. He’s a tall redhead and together they do enormous triple twists. She is elegant.
Maria Vigalova, Russia. She skates pairs with Egor Zakroev, and while he is 20, she is 14. But she may be the better of the two. In fact, she dominates him. She’s wonderful, a gem. Her spiral positions are awesome, helped by her great flexibility. They’ll have trouble with junior eligibility in the future, because of the spread in their ages. Hope we see her again.