Winning the world juniors is no guarantee of success on the senior circuit, but it can't hurt. The skaters who took the titles at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Milan, Italy, may have opened the door to becoming household names. Time will tell.
As I watched the Americans sweep the men's podium, I wondered who of the three men would be making his mark in the senior ranks.
World junior champion Joshua Farris seems to have already started his climb by finishing in fourth place at the recent U.S. nationals. Farris has what it takes to compete, from solid jumps to a solid presentation style on the ice.
His biggest threat in Milan was Jason Brown, who won the free skate, but settled for the silver overall. Brown is the skater who really caught my eye. He has a graceful style and powerful jumps. Some fans tweeted during the event that his style was reminiscent of Canadian artistic genius Toller Cranston. By finally being able to add a triple Axel to his arsenal, Brown now becomes a skater to be taken seriously.
Honourable mention has to go to first-time world juniors competitor Shotaro Omori, the American who took the bronze, and China's Boyang Jin, who finished fourth.
Jin really impressed me. I think if he can keep it together, China might have the competitive men's skater it has been looking for. He is a great jumper, has speed and I believe that his style will continue to evolve.
A real horse race
The women's event was a real horse race and I can't go any further without a shout-out to the two Canadian competitors, national senior silver medallist Gabrielle Daleman and national bronze medallist Alaine Chartrand, who finished in sixth and eighth place at the world juniors, respectively. Skate Canada tweeted that the last time Canada had two women in the Top 10 at the world juniors was in 2002.
I have been mentioning for some time that the Russian women's program, as far as the juniors are concerned, is proving to be very successful. This competition was no exception. The Russians swept the women's podium. For the fourth time in five years, Russia crowned a world junior champion in Elena Radionova.
Julia Lipnitskaia, who was the silver medallist, was my pick to defend her title and I still like her skating best. As I watched her free program, what I responded to was a joie de vivre and a real connection to her program. It's fresh and unique.
Rounding out the women's podium was Anna Pogorilaya who, at the tender age of 14, is already ranked fifth among Russia's senior skaters.
Bit of a nailbiter
I have to say that the pairs event was a bit of a nailbiter with the top three teams separated by only 1.26 points.
Canada's Margaret Purdy and Michael Marinaro took the silver in their third attempt at world juniors. They were strong and confident and are very much on track for the move to the senior ranks, thanks to coaches Alison Purkiss and Scott Rachuk.
The gold medallists, Haden Denney and Brandon Frazier of the United States, show great promise. They are fast and made good on the choreography that Canadian Julie Marcotte created for them.
The bronze medal went to Lina Fedorova and Maxim Miroshkin from Russia, who won the free program. Trying to climb out of the hole they created by finishing in seventh in the short program proved to be too much for them, although they came within .13 of Purdy and Marinaro in the attempt.
Ice dance in genes
The standouts for me in the ice dance event were Russia's Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin, who took the title. For those of you old enough to remember 1988 Olympic champions Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin, Ivan is Andrei's son. Let's just say the son does not fall far from his father's ice dance tree. Ivan is very talented and, in my mind, the stronger skater in his team.
Canada's two dance teams were strong in the short program, but faltered in the free. Mackenzie Bent and Garrett MacKeen finished in fifth, while national junior champions Madeleine Edwards and Zhao Kai Pang finished 12th. Both teams will chalk their respective results up to experience. They're great representatives for Canada and will, no doubt, return to compete for Canada another day. I always try to look for the silver lining and, in the case of the talent with these two teams, it's not that difficult.
France's Gabrielle Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron rounded out the ice dance podium. I'm not sure this team is on the right track, although finishing with the silver in Milan as well as at the junior Grand Prix Final might mean I'm out to lunch. I would like to see this team tidy up a little. I know there was a time in ice dance, not that long ago, that it was a bit of a free for all. I think the discipline has returned to a more polished style, which I would love to see imposed on this talented team.
I was impressed with Americans Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton, who are already two-time and reigning national junior champions. In their debut at world juniors last year, they earned the bronze, which they followed up with bronze again this year.
Follow Pj Kwong on Twitter @skatingpj
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