2017 Junior Worlds preview (ladies/pairs): A new star will be born

The 2017 World Junior Championships are fast approaching. And as always, we are looking at another star in the making in the ladies event. The Russian and Japanese ladies will be vying for the podium spots and leaving very little room for any other country to get up there. Here's a look.

2017 Junior Worlds predictions
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LADIES: Zagitova on the rise

GOLD Alina Zagitova RUS
SILVER Marin Honda JPN
BRONZE Stanislava Konstantinova RUS
4. Kaori Sakamoto JPN
5. Polina Tsurskaya RUS
6. Yuna Shiraiwa JPN
7. Bradie Tennell USA
8. Eunsoo Lim KOR
9. So Hyun An KOR
10. Starr Andrews USA

Russian silver medalist Alina Zagitova has had an incredible first international season, winning almost everything in sight. But she showed some signs of vulnerability at the European Youth Olympic Festival with a few mistakes, and so she may not be as invincible as she looked at the Russian Championships. And in that case, defending champion Marin Honda is very much ready to step in to reclaim her title. Honda does not boast the technical difficulty that Zagitova does, but her components are the best in the field.

Russian junior silver medalist Stanislava Konstantinova took gold in her international senior debut late last year, and looks very much like a podium contender here at Junior Worlds. Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Kaori Sakamoto has had a strong season, but she withdrew from her last competition with the flu a few weeks back, so it remains to be seen how well she has recovered from her illness.

The dark horse may very well be Polina Tsurskaya, who was undefeated last year until injury took her out of last year's Junior Worlds. She also had surgery this season and is still on the recovery path. But her huge, effortless jumps are not to be overlooked.

PAIRS: Russian sweep on the way?

GOLD Aleksandra Boikova/Dmitrii Kozlovskii RUS
SILVER Amina Atakhanova/Ilia Spiridonov RUS
BRONZE Alina Ustimkina/Nikita Volodin RUS
4. Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya/Harley Windsor AUS
5. Chelsea Liu/Brian Johnson USA

Without defending champions Anna Duskova/Martin Bidar, the landscape is just right for a Russian sweep. Aleksandra Boikova/Dmitrii Kozlovskii look to have the edge after winning bronze at the Junior Grand Prix Final and gold at the Russian Junior Championships. But really, any of the three Russian pairs could take it.