Junior Worlds 2017 broke records – Vincent Zhou’s quad lutz and Australia’s first ISU championship gold medal come to mind – while still crowning a few expected champions, including Alina Zagitova and Parsons/Parsons. Junior Worlds opened with a 45-person, 35-country, 7-hour long men’s short program event in which a huge number of skaters went clean, inspiring confidence about the future of figure skating through 2022 and 2026. Less inspiring was the 16-team, 13-country pairs event, which echoes concerns whispered among fans of the senior ranks that pairs skating could be in trouble. Somewhat encouragingly, the top three teams were very competitive with each other.
Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to track down several videos I was hoping to find for this post. If you find a video that’s missing, please send it this way!
Thanks to these five judges for sitting at The Judges’ Table to close out the junior figure skating season:
Bea (@tweenershots) | You Only Lutz Once
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. I co-founded and blog in You Only Lutz Once. I also co-founded Tropical Frost, a fan site dedicated to Michael Christian Martinez (PHI). Outside streaming, I’ve watched Four Continents in Taipei last season. (I was probably on TV too many times because of the many banners we had, especially that “The CHANpion is Back” banner. This season, I got to watch Asian Open Trophy and got to meet and cheer for many of my favorite skaters.
What’s your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years? Tatsuki Machida’s 2014 Worlds free skate
J.j. (@RealDetective) | Tumblr
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. One time Meryl Davis told me happy birthday and another time a security guard told me he took a picture of me and Zach Donohue but he unknowingly never actually pressed the button and I didn’t want to ask Zach for another picture. It was all very sad. Except for the Meryl part. Which made being old worth it.
What’s your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years? Davis/White 2014 US Nationals Free Dance and let me tell you why, you see one judge (specifically Mary Karen Henderson OF THEIR VERY OWN HOME STATE OF MICHIGAN) thought that they were worthy of only +2 GOE on two elements and had the gall, THE GALL, to give them a 9.75 in one (1) PCS category WHICH IS A FULL STEP LESS THAN WHAT IS SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE. Sure, these scores are thrown out and Meryl Elizabeth Davis and Chuck White scored the maximum amount of points possible BUT THE PRINCIPLE. The principle. (Don’t @ me.)
Mara B. (@missmaraskate)
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan, if any. I started out as purely an ice dance fan, after watching D/W on DWTS. Gradually, I was introduced to the other disciplines, and I’ve found myself enjoying all of them. I’ve never been to a live event…hopefully that will change eventually (hi Skate America 2017!).
Ryan P. (@jetsfan_85)
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. I used to compete from ages 15-17 and casually skated for years later. Just got back into it this year (31y.o now). I watch every GP competition of the year as well as Canadian and American Nationals etc.
What’s your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years? Bourne/Kraatz River Dance 1998 Worlds…they should have won gold.
TJ C. (@Tsk8c)
Tell us a little about your experiences with figure skating or as a fan. I am a current competitor in ice dancing (and a first-time national qualifier!). I’m a huge fan of the sport, but it’s not like I have a problem or anything (hehehe…).
What’s your favorite grossly underscored skate of the last five years? Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje’s FD at the 2014 GP Final.
Be honest: how much of this event did you *actually* watch?
Bea: I said I’d watch the whole thing since yay, it was in my timezone, but work happened. I only managed to catch up with the men.
J.j.: LOL. The medalists and some live groups of ice dance and men. Caught up on other skates of interest outside of the medalists. I don’t know what a junior pair is.
Mara: Some early groups live, top 10 pairs/ice dance, and not as much of the men/ladies as I would have liked because FujiTV blocked everything on YouTube.
Ryan: Most of what mattered and what I could actually find online. So much was taken down due to copyright issues.
TJ: The top few groups from each discipline and also bits and pieces of the lower groups.
Who had the best performance of the event?
Bea: No doubt, Vincent Zhou! (And this is probably my biases talking, but oh well.) This is the best free skate I’ve seen from him, and I’m so happy he landed all his jumps. That victory was indisputable, and I’m so proud of him. [Video below starts at Zhou’s free skate]
J.j.: Marin Honda’s free skate was wow. Barely anything out of place, her movement an extension of the music, superior skating, and pleasing to the eye, wow.
Mara: I’d have to say Vincent Zhou in the free skate. He was completely clean across the board and, correct me if I’m wrong, became the first junior to land a quad lutz in competition. I know his PCS could use some work, but the judges didn’t really gift him extra points, as his PCS were only 6th in the field. I really enjoyed his performance, though, and it seemed that the audience did as well.
Ryan: This event definitely had some fantastic performances, but the one that stands out for me the most would be Marin Honda’s FS. I know she didn’t win, but it was very well-balanced and she owned it. I think it was the more complete program between her and the Russian [Alina Zagitova]. Don’t get me wrong, Alina was amazing without a doubt, but I just feel Marin’s program was a bit more spaced out.
TJ: Vincent Zhou’s free skate was definitely the program to remember from this event. All of his jumps look so solid and confident, even the quad lutz. Also, his love for skating shows in his performance. This will definitely put him in the conversation going into the Olympics.
Who improved the most from the last time you watched them skate?
Bea: I’m glad Daniel Samohin redeemed himself in his free skate. His past competitions this season have been disaster after disaster, so good for him to be able to end his season on a better note. [Video below starts at Samohin’s free skate]
J.j.: Anthony Ponomarenko and Christina Carriera’s free dance killed it. He’s always been good and I was so happy with how they’ve been doing this season but this one was on another level for me. She isn’t usually my favorite, but I was so impressed by her performance this time, as well.
Mara: Seeing as the last time I saw Amina Atakhanova and Ilia Spiridinov skate was at the JGP Final, where they had landing errors on every jump and throw, fell on a lift, and didn’t get their other lift up, it was nice to see them skate much better than that, at least in the free skate.
Ryan: Honestly I cant really answer this too accurately as I am not that familiar with junior skaters and this has been the only competition I have watched. HOWEVER, I will say that the consistency for that Australian pairs team really seemed to come into this competition. They had two really strong skates. So I will say the FS of Windsor/ Aleksandrovskaya.
TJ: Polina Tsurskaya did make a lot of technical mistakes but her artistic growth is undeniable. Her connection to the music is much more genuine this year. I’ve really enjoyed watching her.
Which performance was the most underscored?
Bea: Jun Hwan Cha was underscored in both of his programs. Those PCS could have been higher.
J.j.: I mean this with complete sincerity when I say that it’s offensive to all my human and my supersensory abilities that Drama Vincent Zhou received lower PCS than Alexander Samarin. No. No no no!!! NOOOOO. Noooooo. The Drama Spread Eagle in Vincent’s short program alone should have put him over the edge. I’m so upset. I need to lie down.
Mara: I really want to say McNamara/Carpenter here because their FD, other than the twizzles, really wasn’t that bad. But I’m not sure it’s that they were underscored as much as it is that the judges definitely had the “we’re going to score the last group way higher than any other group” mentality.
Ryan: Please correct me if I am wrong but…does that score sheet make sense to you regarding Marjorie LaJoie / Zachary Lagha of Canada? I LOVED their FD. I don’t understand why they dropped a few spots in the standings and I more importantly don’t understand the GOE marks for their elements. Example: they had 6 +2 GOE and 2 +1 GOE and a +3 GOE on their COSP4 and only received 1.11…should they not have received 1.9? Its on all their elements like that. Again please correct me if I’m wrong. So anyways…they are my answer.
Editor’s Note(/interruption, really): this is a good educational opportunity for everyone, including myself. Thanks to Patrick who found this table showing the points assigned for each level and GOE of each element in dance. First, note that the IJS removes the highest and lowest GOE from its scoring calculations, so a 1 and the 3 are taken out. LaJoie / Lagha got 1.2 points for every GOE of 2, and .6 for every GOE of 1. This averages to 1.11. A CoSp is worth 60 percent of its GOE. A circular step sequence (CISt) is worth 110% if the GOE is positive and 100% if the GOE is negative. Therefore, it’s not just base values that matter – it’s the proportion of the GOE that you earn changes by element! Just one more thing for skaters, coaches, and choreographers to keep in mind while building programs.
I figured this out by multiplying a bunch of skaters’ scores until they made sense. I haven’t been able to find an official ISU communication on it. If you think I made a mistake, or if you have an ISU memo that says that this is correct or incorrect, please let me know!
TJ: I would have placed Kevin Aymoz higher in the free skate. He performed much better than some of the other skaters in the final warmup group
Which performance was the most overscored?
Bea: I found it impressive that Alexander Petrov was consistent, but I don’t think the PCS should be that high.
J.j.: Nobody’s going to say Zagitova, obviously. But I’m personally beefing with Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha. I know nothing about them except I watched their free dance and hated it. LOL sorry. It wasn’t even a particularly high score, but it was just so displeasing of a program for me that I can’t shake the memory.
Mara: Probably Alina Zagitova. I do actually like her, and she was clean and has the highest technical content of the field, so I’d still probably have her in first, but maybe not by as much.
Ryan: Honestly Alla Loboda and Pavel Drozd’s free dance. I felt they were all hands and no content. They reminded me of a less polished version of Marina Anissana and Gwendal Pezerat. Flailing everywhere lol. I also found them to be struggling a bit in the transitions. They weren’t as smooth as I would of liked to see. I think they should have maybe been handed the bronze because IMO Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko of USA were better.
TJ: Alina Zagitova’s free skate. To be honest, her program only started to get interesting at the halfway point. In my opinion, she did not deserve to have components that were so close to Marin’s. (But can we all just take a moment to realize that Marin got the highest PCS for both programs? Baby steps, people. Baby steps.)
Out of those skaters and teams who finished in the bottom half of their events, who had the best performance?
Bea: Sihyeong Lee took me to church in an all-denim getup, and that’s all anyone needs to know.
J.j.: I vowed not to watch 44+ juniors in each discipline all at once. But outside of the top 10, Starr Andrews’ Pink Panther short program was a delight. She was feelin’ it, as was I. It was especially exciting to watch her as a short notice substitute and in her major international debut.
Mara: I remember really enjoying James Min from Australia. He performed the heck out of his program, but doesn’t have a 3A and had an error on his 3-3, so he didn’t even make the free skate.
Ryan: I didnt watch enough bottom skaters to see. I will go out on a limb and say Daniel Samohin from Israel since he was 16th in the SP and 2nd in the FS. I was unable to watch many of the men because there aren’t any videos.
TJ: I couldn’t take my eyes off of Wing Yi Valerie So and Marcus Yau. I know juvenile teams who could beat them but still AAH SO CUTE! They just love to skate so much! If I ever have a bad day I’ll probably just watch this and all of my problems will be fixed.
Which non-medalist from this event is going to have the most success next season?
Bea: Jun Hwan Cha is most likely going to be propped up as Korea’s top man, especially with Pyeongchang just around the corner. Kevin Aymoz is starting to make waves in French figure skating, especially when he’s consistent. I think Nicolas Nadeau will establish himself as a contender in Canadian Nationals once more, especially if he lands the quad loop again.
J.j.: Dang, I wasn’t counting on Anthony and Christina medaling, even though I was hoping. They were supposed to be my answer!!! Eunsoo Lim will get to have a kiki finally, and hopefully a lot of medals though.
Mara: I hope that Daniel Samohin will be able to put this season’s craziness (and inconsistency?) behind him and do well enough next season to get to the Olympics.
Ryan: The Canadian pair team of Evelyn Walsh / Trennt Michaud . I think they are going to do Canada really well and IMO they could be top 5 in the senior nationals next year with a few improved elements like their 3 twist.
TJ: I believe Cha Jun Hwan will be someone to watch out for next season. Can’t wait to see what he brings next year (hopefully new quads!
Which medalist from this event is going to have the least success next season?
Editor’s note: I messed up the form so only a few judges got a chance to answer this fun/depressing question. Sorry to judges and readers!
J.j.: I’m making a lot of sacrifices to get a Dmitri Aliev and Maxim Kovtun Olympic team, so I’m sorry to Alexander Samarin who will be fed to the trolls that guard the bridge to keep Plushenko at bay and prevent him from returning to the Olympic scene last minute. It has to be done.
Mara: Maybe Yumeng Gao and Zhong Xie if they try to move up to senior, simply because there are so many other good Chinese pair teams, and they seem to have had a planned 2T-2T combination in their free skate. Either that or they both popped it, which also doesn’t bode well for them, as Zhong Xie also doubled the planned 3S.
What surprised you most about this event?
Bea: I haven’t watched junior pairs, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one surprised with Ekaterina Alexandranovskaya / Harley Windsor’s victory. Good for them, though!
J.j.: I’m for some reason actually pretty sad about Bradie Tennell placing behind Stanislava Konstantinova, with whom I’m apparently developing a personal beef through Judges Table events.
Mara: Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor winning the pairs event! Australia’s first ISU Championship gold medal!
Ryan: How many real quality ice dance teams are coming up in juniors. There is a ton of talent in that category. Also the women. There are a ton in the top 10 who could have very successful careers
TJ: Two American dance teams medaled, and neither of them were Lorraine and Quinn. Still, both teams deserved the placements that they got.
The experts always get to make “bold predictions.” Make an additional prediction about something that will happen NEXT season.
Bea: We’re all gonna die in Helsinki.
J.j.: Everyone, in a last ditch effort to try to beat Nathan and Evgenia at the olympics, changes their program music to K-pop. Jinseo Kim, a true visionary, reigns supreme because you can’t beat the OG. It’s a moral victory because Nathan will still win though.
Mara: A US pair will be on the world junior podium next season.
Ryan: This has nothing to do with juniors but I think a Canadian woman will be on the podium again at worlds for the first time since Joannie Rochette.
TJ: Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons will qualify for the Olympics. #poorzach
Bonus question! Pick one the non-medalists at junior worlds to replace one of their teammates at senior worlds. This can be in any of the four disciplines. Feel free to ignore age requirements.
Bea: #SendVincenttoWorlds2k17. If Nathan and Vincent are consistent in Helsinki, that would be SOMETHING.
J.j.: Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson as the lone senior US pair at Worlds. Thank you very much.
Mara: I’d probably have Marin Honda replace one of the other Japanese ladies now that Satoko has withdrawn. Unfortunately, the age requirements do actually exist.
Ryan: I’d take out Jason Brown and put in Vincent Zhao. Jason just doesn’t have the technical elements to hold him in there. And to boot Jason lost to Vincent at the 2017 US Nationals.
TJ: Mirai is already a junior world medalist so i can’t choose her. Anyway, I’d go with Angelique Abachkina and Louis Thauron instead of Lorenza Alessandrini and Pierre Souquet because their folk free dance is such a throwback to what ice dancing used to be and I love it.
Anything else to add about this event?
Bea: I shouldn’t be surprised anymore to see kids attempting quads but. SERIOUSLY. CHILDREN. CALM DOWN. Also, Jun Hwan Cha wins for best exhibition program.
J.j.: I didn’t include video links because a lot of them were gone from youtube so I used Icenetwork to watch! Sorry!!! 😦 [There are a LOT of videos missing from this event -if anyone comes across ones that are missing or any better quality ones please let me know!]
Mara: I really wish Chelsea and Brian had been able to skate their FS clean. I love that program and how iconic of them to perform their Beauty and the Beast free skate on the same day the new movie came out. And they better have put her through concussion protocol because that fall was really scary.
Ryan: Great attendance for the women’s free skate! Too bad the rest of the competition wasn’t as full.
TJ: I’m even more terrified for the Olympics than I already was so that’s nice.
What did you think about this year’s Junior Worlds? How did our judges do? Leave us a comment to let us know, then sign up to judge a future event!