2016 Junior Grand Prix Final: Preview and schedule

It's here! The second biggest junior competition of the season! The Junior Grand Prix Final will take place this week in Marseille, France. It is, of course, at the exactly same venue and week as the senior Grand Prix Final. And as has been the case for the past few years, the competition here in all four disciplines will be intense. Here's a quick look at who to watch in the junior event, which starts off the three days of Finals this Thursday.

2016 Junior Grand Prix Final Schedule

  • Thursday, December 8, 2016
    • Jr short dance: 5:05 a.m. PT / 8:05 a.m. ET / 2:05 p.m. Marseille / 10:05 p.m. Tokyo
    • Jr men's SP: 6:20 a.m. PT / 9:20 a.m. ET / 3:20 p.m. Marseille / 11:20 p.m. Tokyo
    • Jr pairs SP: 7:25 a.m. PT / 10:25 a.m. ET / 4:25 p.m. Marseille / 12:25 a.m. Tokyo (12/9)
    • Jr ladies SP: 8:40 a.m. PT / 11:40 a.m. ET / 5:40 p .m. Marseille / 1:40 a.m. Tokyo (12/9)
  • Friday, December 9, 2016
    • Jr free dance: 6:45 a.m. PT / 9:45 a.m. ET / 3:45 p.m. Marseille / 11:45 p.m. Tokyo
    • Jr ladies FS: 8:05 a.m. PT / 11:05 a.m. ET / 5:05 p.m. Marseille / 1:05 a.m. Tokyo (12/10)
  • Saturday December 10, 2016
    • Jr men's FS: 5:00 a.m. PT / 8:00 a.m. ET / 2:00 p.m. Marseille / 10:00 p.m. Tokyo
    • Jr pairs FS: 6:20 a.m. PT / 9:20 a.m. ET / 3:20 p.m. Marseille / 12:20 a.m. Tokyo (12/11)


GOLD Jun Hwan Cha KOR
SILVER Dmitri Aliev RUS
BRONZE Alexander Samarin RUS
4. Alexei Krasnozhon USA
5. Ilia Skirda RUS
6. Roman Savosin RUS

In its 19 years of existence, the men's event at the JGP Final has been dominated by the U.S. (8 titles), China, Japan, and Russia (3 titles each), and France (2 titles). But this year, it may very well be a South Korean who breaks with tradition and walks away with the title. Jun Hwan Cha, who was seventh at Junior Worlds last year, has had a breakthrough season so far after winning both of his JGP events in convincing fashion. The quad salchow may pave the path to the top of the podium for him.

Standing in his way are two Russian men who both have the technical goods and components to win this whole thing. On paper, defending silver medalist Dmitri Aliev should be the favorite to win the whole thing, but he's had issues with his consistency and could very well finish anywhere from first to last. Teammate Alexander Samarin, fourth at Junior Worlds last season, has put down some very solid performances this season. Both are armed with the quad toe. Also with a chance for a medal is American Alexei Krasnozhon, who has a quad loop in his repertoire and could be the spoiler.


GOLD Anastasiia Gubanova RUS
SILVER Alina Zagitova RUS
BRONZE Kaori Sakamoto JPN
4. Marin Honda JPN
5. Elizaveta Nugumanova RUS
6. Rika Kihira JPN

For the third year in a row, it's all Russia and Japan in the ladies' competition. It's no surprise considering the crazy deep fields in both countries in this discipline. And this year, we've also got a triple axel in the mix from Rika Kihira. With defending champion Polina Tsurskaya just withdrawing from the event, the title even more wide open, with any of the six skaters with the potential to win. 

But have a quick glance at the top junior scores this season and you'll see that Kihira, Anastasiia Gubanova, and Alina Zagitova have basically the same three highest total scores. And where Gubanova and Zagitova have a bit of an edge on components, Kihira counters that with her technical advantage in the free skate. That said, Kihira just came off a complete disaster at Japanese Juniors a few weeks ago, where she fell apart in the free skate and finished 11th. Also disappointing but less severely so was World junior champion Marin Honda's performance there, where she took bronze after dropping from second in the free skate.

And so that brings up newly-crowned Japanese junior champion Kaori Sakamoto, who is the Japanese skater here with the most momentum. But really, this competition could go in many different directions with the talent we see here.


GOLD Anastasia Mishina/Vladislav Mirzoev RUS
SILVER Anna Duskova/Martin Bidar CZE
BRONZE Amina Atakhanova/Ilia Spiridonov RUS
4. Alina Ustimkina/NIkita Volodin RUS
5. Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya/Harley Windsor AUS
6. Aleksandra Boikova/Dmitrii Kozlovskii RUS

The pairs event looks to be a battle between the two top pairs from Junior Worlds earlier this year. World junior silver medalists Anastasia Mishina/Vladislav Mirzoev looks to have the edge so far this season over the World junior champs, Anna Duskova/Martin Bidar. It'll be about which team skates the cleanest here. An outsider for the podium but a story to follow is the Australian pair, Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya/Harley Windsor, who became the first Australian pair to make the Junior Grand Prix Final after being called up as the first substitutes with a withdrawal last week.


GOLD Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons USA
SILVER Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter USA
BRONZE Alla Loboda/Pavel Drozd RUS
4. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko USA
5. Angelique Abachkina/Louis Thauron FRA
6. Anastasia Shpilevaya/Grigory Smirnov RUS

Speaking of Junior Worlds, it's looking to be a repeat podium (in some order) from Junior Worlds in ice dance. After just losing out to Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter for the Junior World title, Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons have looked just a tad more well-received this season internationally. But Russia's Alla Loboda/Pavel Drozd have the highest junior dance score this season, so really, this competition is really going to be decided by element levels and cleanness. But if any of the three make mistakes, look for dark horse Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko to sweep in there for a medal. They have made loads of improvements this season and look to have spoiler potential this week.