Taking on the junior ranks for the first time at The Judges' Table, here are our Junior Worlds 2016 judges:
Amanda is on Twitter.
Dasha is on Twitter.
D L runs "So You Want to Watch Figure Skating" and can be found on Twitter.
Emmy is on Twitter.
Francy runs Figure Skating Evolution, which you can find on Twitter.
LET'S GET JUDGING. When you're finished reading, leave a comment to let us know what you thought about Junior Worlds, how you think the real judges did, and how you think our judges did. If you disagree, leave a comment and sign up to judge an event and share your thoughts!
Judging Junior Worlds
Amanda: Not as much as I would have liked to. I did watch all of the free dance and the ladies free skate, as well as the final 2 groups of the men's free skate.
Dasha: Most of the ladies and pairs, top men and ice dancers.
DL: A little more than half of the singles competitions and 30-50% of pairs and ice dance.
Emmy: About 80%.
Francy: Second half of all disciplines, except for ladies - only highlights.
Who had the best performance of the event?
Amanda: Marin Honda's free skate. She has such great speed and flow across the ice and is so polished. I can't believe she's only 14; she has more presence than many skaters much older than her. I was happy that she was able to skate two clean programs to win the title.
Amanda: Daniel Samohin did okay at Europeans, but if he skated there like he did in the free skate here, he may have had a shot at the podium. The fact that he was able to come back from 9th place in the short program to win the event was very impressive. Granted, most of the final group imploded, but he skated very well regardless.
Amanda: No one really stands out as particularly underscored. Sorry!
Amanda: Maria Sotskova getting the highest PCS in the ladies' free skate is a bit of a head scratcher. She should not be getting higher skating skills scores than Marin Honda or Wakaba Higuchi for sure.
Amanda: I didn't get to see a lot of the skaters who finished in the bottom half, but I did enjoy Mackenzie Bent/Dmitre Razgulajevs, who finished 9th in the dance event, and were the highest placing Canadian team
Amanda: Polina Tsurskaya and Alisa Fedichkina both getting injured and having to withdraw from the event was kind of a shocker. Luckily for Team Russia, Maria Sotskova did well enough on her own to keep three spots for next year.
Dasha: Pfff the whole event was full of surprises: the Russians' withdrawals, the Czechs winning pairs, the Parsons winning the SD, but above all the men's events results.
DL: Tomoki Hiwatashi winning a bronze medal and Marin Honda winning the ladies' event. If you had asked me a few months ago which US man would medal at Junior Worlds, I definitely wouldn't have picked Tomoki. But he skated very well at his first Junior Worlds and capitalized on nearly everyone else making mistakes. I'm also shocked (but in a good way) by Marin's gold medal! She's my favorite junior lady, but not known for her consistency. I'm really glad she skated clean in both programs to win the title.
Emmy: How much the Russian skaters struggled. Obviously losing two competitors in ladies didn't help, but it was really surprising to see how sloppy and inconsistent the dance teams were in particular, and just how dramatically both of the men managed to implode. On the flip side, the good surprise was two gold medallists from countries that aren't the usual skating powerhouses!
Francy: It was the first time that I watched the juniors that closely: I was really surprised by the quality of the competition! But also by the technical level of the ladies, the depth of US ice dance, & the unpredictability of the men's event.
The Fun Stuff!
Who had the best costume at this event?
Amanda: I loved Rachel Parsons' entire look in the free dance. Her dress and makeup were gorgeous. I'm always a fan of a sassy ponytail.
DL: I loved Marin Honda's free skate dress, simple but elegant. Also Angelina Kuchvalska's FS costume (I'm weak for glitter) and Daniel Samohin's FS costume - nice cut, and who could forget the fancy ascot? Unfortunately she had to withdraw before the FS so we didn't get to see her, but shoutout to Alisa Fedichkina's cat ears in her "Cats" free skate.
Amanda: Dmitri Aliev's FS costume, with the priest collar and the rosary beads. You can skate to Notre Dame de Paris and not be so literal.
Amanda: Melinda and Andrew Meng skated their free dance to Nocturne into Bohemian Rhapsody, by Lucia Micarelli, which is a piece that I've loved ever since Hubbell and Donahue skated to it a few years ago. They had a rough time in the free dance, but I enjoyed the program anyway because of the music.
Emmy: Yuna Shiraiwa. Remember kids, Sondheim not Lloyd Webber! Ha Nul Kim's Kung Fu Panda FS was a lot of fun too.I can't decide if Gubanova/Sinitsov get plus or minus points for partially orchestrated Earth Song, but it's juniors and I'll try to be nice, so lets just call it a brave choice.
Amanda: I really like Nicolas Nadeau, and he had a great performance in the free skate, but I am not a fan of the Mary Poppins music. He's very charming, and I hope he has better material next season.
DL: I'm baffled by Angelina Kuchvalska's FS music, which cut from El Tango de Roxanne to Romeo and Juliet and back to Roxanne again.
Emmy: McNamara/Carpenter for pure unoriginality. A Carmen FD as the follow up to last year's POTO? Really?
Amanda: The fact that the Parsons were able to skate a convincing tango program without any weirdness speaks very well to their connection on the ice and their performance quality. I wouldn't say that Lauriault/Le Gac have terrible chemistry, but since they are apparently married in real life now, I expect them to have a stronger connection on ice, and I didn't get that from their free dance.
Predictions for Next Season
Amanda: I could see Vincent Zhou having a good season; he was just off the podium here and could do well next year with more consistent quads and improved PCS.
Dasha: I'll have to go with Dimitri Aliev. He has everything to be great, but he has got to find his consistency.
DL: I'm keeping my eye on Vincent Zhou. He was barely off the podium here after a few mistakes in his free skate, but he still skated very well overall. He only just started practicing the 3A, 4S and 4T this season and if he can get more consistency on them, he could be a real force to be reckoned with next season. I'm also really impressed with Jun Hwan Cha's performances here! So much potential - I'm excited to see how he develops, and I think he could be one of the top men on the junior circuit next season.
Emmy: Kevin Aymoz will beautifully fill the artistic headcase void left by Florent Amodio. And if Deniss can make his jumps a touch more solid, he'll be top 5 at Euros in no time. Overall, I think that the singles skaters are going to have an easier time breaking through into seniors than any of the pairs or dance teams. And junior ladies will continue to be amazing, with Fedichkina, Turskaya, Shiraiwa (& Honda) all having to stay junior next year & all hopefully continuing to build on what they've done this year.
Francy: Tursynbaeva and Kuchvalska will definitely be interesting to follow in the ladies. Vasiljevs in men, and Aliev if he becomes more consistent. Both French ice dance teams will progress well.
Which medalist from this event is going to have the least success next season?
Amanda: If McNamara/Carpenter move up to seniors next year, it will be hard for them to break through to the top tier in U.S. ice dance. We have so many strong teams that it may take them a while to see results, but I expect them to be close to the top after 2018.
Dasha: This is hard, but I think all of the ice dancers? I've seen very few dance teams that were successful in junior gaining success in seniors right away; usually it takes a couple of seasons for them to break through in the senior circuit.
DL: It will be interesting to see how well the ice dance medalists do in seniors next season. USA and Russia both have a lot of ice dancers and I wonder how much of an impression the new juniors-turned-seniors will make.
Emmy: Borisova/Sopot have to turn senior as he is aging out, but they are going to get completely lost at that level if they don't manage to do something about their SBS jumps. Even if they manage to turn the first 2T in their combo to a triple, it won't be enough to get them anywhere within Russia, let alone internationally. I also don't see Sotskova doing all that well. She has the technical goods, but her basic carriage and extension needs work, as does her interpretation. Unfortunately, the current Russian ladies field doesn't really give skaters the chance to work on their weaknesses & develop slowly.
Francy: Hiwatashi will face strong competition within the US. Same for Sotskova in Russia. The US dance teams will have to wait past 2018 to find their place in the crowded field.
Make an additional prediction about something that will happen NEXT season.
Amanda: This is not really bold, but I think the Parsons will stay junior next season and McNamara/Carpenter will move up to senior. Other than that, I got nothing. Juniors are so hard to predict!
Dasha: I feel that Wakaba Higuchi is going to have a great senior debut. She has loads of talent. This wasn't her best season, probably due to her growing, but I think (and hope) that she will do really well next season.
DL: Marin Honda will accidentally win the JGPF, but not Junior Nationals. Wakaba Higuchi and Nathan Chen will medal on the Grand Prix, one of them will make the GPF, and both will make the senior world team. Shoma Uno still won't have an exhibition.
Emmy: Kazakhstan will magic up enough junior ladies to fill all the JGP spots Elizabet earned for them this year.
Francy: Nadeau will take the 3rd spot on the Sr World team for Canada. Samohin will have better results than Bychenko in Seniors. Russia will take home more medals than this year (at least two in the ladies and one in men).
Amanda: I wish I had been able to watch the men's free skate live; I was following along on Twitter and couldn't believe how crazy the results were!
Dasha: It was a great event, full of surprises and great performances. I want to use this space to give a shout-out to Elizabet Tursynbaeva for making a fantastic comeback after stopping because of her nosebleed. She went back right in character and killed the program.
DL: Extra congratulations to Duskova/Bidar and Daniel Samohin for making history by winning the first Junior World titles for their respective countries! But it's such a shame that so many top skaters (Nathan Chen, Sota Yamamoto, Polina Tsurskaya, Alisa Fedichkina, Atakhanova/Spiridonov - who cursed the Russians???) were injured and couldn't compete. Hoping they heal soon and better luck next season! Also, I didn't get a chance earlier to talk about Deniss Vasiljevs even though he's one of my favorites, but I'll take a moment now to gush about him because he's really a wonderful skater, well-rounded and a great performer. I hope he can become more consistent and get a quad soon.
Emmy: I will pay good money to anyone who can hook me up with a copy of the music the rink DJ played during the warm ups.
Francy: I’d like to remark on the unpredictability and thus excitement of the men event! And how technically impressive the junior ladies are. Overall, it was the first time that I followed closely a whole junior event (besides the JGPF because I was there), and I will definitely pay more attention to the juniors in the future, and suggest everyone else do so. When in the next years you’ll ask "how did this skater come out of nowhere?," that "nowhere" was probably junior worlds.
What did you think about Junior Worlds? How did our judges do? Leave us a comment to let us know, then sign up to judge a future event!