The upcoming ISU Junior World Figure Skating Championships are going to be interesting to watch. Why, you may ask? Now more than ever, the Junior Worlds could hold the clue for Canadians fans about who to watch out for in the future.
After seeing national bronze medallist Kaetlyn Osmond take the short program ahead of both Cynthia Phaneuf and Amelie Lacoste in January at Canadians, I was impressed by her gumption.
This was her first trip to senior nationals and at 16-years-old, she showed tremendous poise. She bears the burden of being Canada's lone representative for the ladies event, but if Moncton is any indication, Osmond seems up to the task.
Do I think she will take a medal in Minsk? Frankly, no. The competition is too deep.
Do I think she can compete and start to develop her international reputation? You bet. Osmond will have to compete in the preliminary round and make top 12 in order to be one of the 30 skaters to compete in the short program.
The frontrunners in the women's field include reigning world champion from Russia Adelina Sotnikova and teammate and Junior Grand Prix Final champion Julia Lipnitskaia. I'm also looking forward to seeing how the newly crowned U.S. junior champion Gracie Gold will stack up.
For the last couple of seasons, I have had my eye on a couple of young Canadian men: Liam Firus and Nam Nguyen who finished 6th and 7th respectively at Nationals in January. They represent very diverse styles with Firus smooth as silk and Nguyen the ultimate performer. Their goal is to end up high enough in the standings to qualify two or three more men for next year's Junior Worlds.
It is going to be an interesting competition with lots at stake. The men's field is headlined by defending junior world silver medalist from Japan, Keiji Tanaka.
American Jason Brown who won the recent Junior Grand Prix Final is looking to capitalize on this momentum and add Junior World champion to his growing list of titles.
Han Yan from China and American Joshua Farris formed the rest of the Junior Grand Prix podium and are in Minsk to challenge for the top spot.
Look for Kazakhstan's Denis Ten to continue to improve in competition especially after a strong 6th place showing at the recent Four Continents championship.
Canadian pair Katherine Bobak and Ian Beharry is Canada's best bet for a podium finish at Junior Worlds in Belarus after a silver medal at the Junior Grand Prix Final in December 2011.
There is little doubt in my mind that the Chinese pair sensation Wenjing Sui and Cong Han will take their third consecutive Junior World title. Their season's high score is about 50 points ahead of their next closest Canadian competitors, demonstrating their strength in this field.
In ice dance, I think the chances of a Russian sweep of the podium, like we saw at the Junior Grand Prix Final, are good. Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin, Anna Yankovskaia and Sergei Mozgov plus Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin, who finished first through third respectively in Quebec City are poised to do the same thing in Minsk.
Canadians Nicole Orford and Thomas Williams will be looking to improve on last year's respectable 8th place finish in the Junior World rankings.Pj's Picks:
Men: Jason Brown USA
Ladies: Adelina Sotnikova RUS
Pairs: Wenjing Sui and Cong Han CHN
Dance: Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin RUS
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