The post-Olympics World Junior Championships are always a fun one to watch. After all, some of the biggest names in skating made the first splashes at this event four years before their big Olympic successes. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir, Yuna Kim, and Yuzuru Hanyu all won Junior Worlds four years before they won their Olympic titles. Who will be the stars coming out of this event?
Junior Worlds predictions
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Ladies Top 5 predictions
GOLD Alena Kostornaia RUS
SILVER Alexandra Trusova RUS
BRONZE Rika Kihira JPN
4. Stanislava Konstantinova RUS
5. Young You KOR
The battle for gold may very well be between Alena Kostornaia and Alexandra Trusova, two ridiculously talented skaters with very different strengths. Kostornaia is one of the most complete skaters on the junior ranks this season and Trusova has some of the most difficult content of any woman in the world right now. Watch for the quad salchow from Trusova in the free skate, but I expect Kostornaia's stronger programs to win out in a reversal of the Junior Grand Prix Final results in December.
So who spoils the potential Russian sweep? Rika Kihira and her triple axel may have something to say about that. If she can hit two clean programs and not let her mind play games on her, she is very much on the podium. Stanislava Konstantinova has greatly improved her overall skating this season, and will definitely be in the mix for a medal. And could this be a big debut for Young You? Still 13, she's already won two Korean titles. And though her JGP wasn't spectacular, she's been skating better and better as the season has progressed.
Men Top 5 predictions
GOLD Alexei Krasnozhon USA
SILVER Camden Pulkinen USA
BRONZE Alexey Erokhov RUS
4. Matteo Rizzo ITA
5. Mitsuki Sumoto JPN
It may be two in a row for the American men at Junior Worlds. Vincent Zhou, who was recently sixth at the Olympics, won last season. And Alexei Krasnozhon, undefeated on the junior circuit this season, comes in as the favorite. Teammate Camden Pulkinen could very well add to the U.S. medal haul here - the two of them went 1-2 at the Junior Grand Prix Final, and have a chance to do the same here.
Russia's Alexey Erokhov is a very solid all-around skater and has the best chance of anyone to challenge Krasnozhon for gold. Fresh of his Olympic debut, Matteo Rizzo comes into his fifth (!?!) Junior Worlds a different man. He's never broken the top 10 here but has a solid chance to challenge for the podium this year. Japan's Mitsuki Sumoto also has podium potential; he took bronze at the Junior Grand Prix Final but doesn't have the technical firepower of the other top men.
Dance Top 5 predictions
GOLD Anastasia Skoptcova/Kirill Aleshin RUS
SILVER Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko USA
BRONZE Marjorie Lajoie/Zachary Lagha CAN
4. Sofia Shevchenko/Igor Eremenko RUS
5. Arina Ushakova/Maxim Nekrasov RUS
Seems to be a pattern here - the ice dance event this week looks to also be a two-way race for gold. Anastasia Skoptcova/Kirill Aleshin beat out Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko at the Junior Grand Prix Final, and these two teams will fight it out again for the Junior World title this week. Carreira/Ponomarenko are the reigning bronze medalists and Skoptcova/Aleshin were fifth here last season. They have both made big strides in their skating this season. The bronze medal is very much open, and three teams that were also at the Junior Grand Prix Final will revisit that battle for bronze this week.
Pairs Top 5 predictions
GOLD Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin RUS
SILVER Yumeng Gao/Zhong Xie CHN
BRONZE Evelyn Walsh/Trennt Michaud CAN
4. Anastasia Mishina/Alexandr Galiamov RUS
5. Audrey Lu/Misha Mitrofanov USA
Of all the disciplines, pairs is the one that is potentially most unpredictable. Only two of the six pairs that competed at Junior Grand Prix Final are here - Alexandrovskaya/Windsor have moved on to the senior ranks and three of the four Russian pairs there didn't even make it onto the podium at the Russian Junior Championships. Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin look to be the favorites for gold here, but keep an eye out for new pair Anastasia Mishina/Alexandr Galiamov. Mishina was the silver medalist two years ago with former partner Vladislav Mirzoev.